Enchanted by Youth: Why Older Men Love Younger Women

AP Photo/ Charles Sykes

Dr. Adam Sheck examines the ways in which the midlife period for men is often a trap that feeds into the need to feel vital and powerful.

The idea of the midlife crisis is certainly something that we men face at some point in our lives, usually in our forties or fifties.

As we enter and begin to face the second half of our lives, we all have the opportunity to face our mortality and this brings up existential issues. What have I accomplished in my life? What do I have yet to accomplish? What might I never accomplish? What will I leave behind? What kind of person have I been and what kind of person do I want to be? Does my life have meaning?

Some men act out on the way to facing these questions—the stereotypes of men buying the red convertible, having affairs, getting involved with younger women, perhaps all of the above. And some older men might even choose to marry their yoga teacher!

Now I’ve never met Alec Baldwin or his lovely yoga teacher bride and I truly have no judgments about his nuptials. I’m just using this as an example to get the attention of my readers (and maybe a tiny bit of search engine optimisation). Nor am I saying that he is having a midlife crisis, though this type of behavior may reflect that in some men. Mr. Baldwin is intelligent (love his blogging), handsome, talented, successful and obviously has had his choice of many women. Being with this woman seems to be for the best, at least evidenced by his latest fit and healthy look.

Anyway, that is the last I will say about Mr. Alec Baldwin, so let the bait and switch begin…and let’s get back to the topic of midlife crisis and the question of the day:

“Why are older men attracted to young women?”

Often, it’s about what might be called the rejuvenation mystery. 

The rejuvenation mystery is about recapturing lost youth, exuberance, energy and passion. In Roman times and probably earlier there was a belief that if an older person slept next to an infant, that person would somehow absorb youthful energies and rejuvenate.

More popular in our modern era is the idea of the older man/younger woman and now the cougar strategy of the older woman/younger man. Why is this so common? I would suggest that it is about the rejuvenation mystery seeking out its resolution.

Yes, for some, this is simply a preference. Yet for many, it’s an attempt to recapture and reignite those youthful energies, especially as we feel ourselves approaching old age.

The best advice I ever received about this came from my teacher, Brugh Joy (Joy’s Way, An Introduction to the Potentials for Healing). My interpretation of his wisdom is to enjoy dancing and flowing in those rejuvenating energies, yet don’t confuse them for something more than they are or something that they are not.

When I arrived at my midlife crisis in my early forties, I was enchanted by a substantially younger woman. Our time together felt like magic. I felt alive, exuberant and filled with the romantic high of falling in love.

Unfortunately, I was so full of myself that I also began another relationship, one with a yoga teacher friend. I was receiving a great deal from from both relationships, not to mention the excitement of juggling them. My yoga friend knew about the younger woman but the younger woman did not know about the yoga teacher—so there was an extra helping of drama to keep things even more exciting.

was smart enough to realize I was playing with fire and heading for disaster. Yet I was also so inflated and high on the energies that I just didn’t care. I imagine this experience might be similar to the manic episodes some of my bipolar patients have experienced.

Needless to say it ultimately blew up. My heart was broken over the younger woman, my yoga teacher friend was deeply hurt by me and all of this tainted the next relationship I eventually entered. Iexperienced the lesson my teacher, Brugh, had shared with me years earlier. I confused my experience of the rejuvenation mystery with love and the potential for relationship. For this, I paid a huge cost.

If I had been a little more aware, a little more enlightened, I could have perhaps simply enjoyed the company of this ripe younger woman for what it was. We each had something to offer each other and if I could have accepted her gifts without projecting into the future, it might have been different. If I was able to stay centered and not create a romantic fantasy, I wouldn’t have set myself up for such heartache.

Yes, our internal psychodynamics played into it. My need to feel vital and powerful and perhaps her need for a loving, nurturing, successful father figure, kept it all in motion past the expiration date of the lesson. If I was more present and grounded, I would have believed her early on when she asserted that everything ends.

What I wanted was to create with her a world of love, lust and intensity. What I needed was to remember who I was, experience my vitality, creativity, passion and aliveness, be grateful to her for this precious gift, integrate it and move forward in my life. Alas, letting go—especially with that strong surge of intense neurotransmitters and hormones flooding my body was not something I could do.

The lesson I learned has helped me to support many men as they enter this period of their lives. Some have learned from my story and let the energies burn without the need to act them out and inflict pain upon themselves and their loved ones. Some have been more stubborn, as I was, and needed to learn a tougher, although perhaps more lasting, lesson.

We are all less than perfect. On the good days, I aspire to walk the talk. There are also days I am woefully human and fallible. My path and my lessons are what help me to connect compassionately and empathically with the people I work with. I am no better and no worse.

My final answer on the question, “Should you marry your much younger yoga teacher?” If you love that person and want to build a life with together, absolutely! If it’s in order to feel younger and better about yourself, absolutely not.

Originally appeared at Elephant Journal

About Dr. Adam Sheck

Dr. Adam Sheck, the Passion Doctor, helps couples and singles bring back the passion into their lives and into their relationships. He is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Los Angeles, is certified in Imago Relationship Therapy and has practiced JUST enough Tantra to be dangerous. He blogs about relationships at thepassiondoctor.com and about issues facing men in the second half of life at www.menafterfifty.com. You can also find him on Facebook.

About Elephant Journal

Elephant Journal is a reader-created open forum dedicated to bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society. Voted #1 in the US for #green on twitter twice, our focus is on "the mindful life": yoga, organics, sustainability, conscious consumerism, non-new-agey spirituality, the arts, wellness, conscious love, relationships and healthy sexuality.


  1. Speaking for myself,as a middle aged man,Sarah and Olive are so wrong.Young women, generally speaking, are far too immature and needy for me.The better she looks,unless she has exceptional character,the more a pain in the ass she’s likely to be.The ego boost one may get is a potentially expensive ploy that one should provide for oneself.It seems to me though that middle-aged women don’t need men.They are often going through lifes change and can be very unpredicable.Many older women seem to be more interested in getting rid of men than with being with men. So I date younger by default.

    • @og,

      You always seem to hit it on the head. I’d add one caveat: My experience with older women has included even more neediness than my experience with younger women. It’s as though they’ve felt rushed and seen each relationship as “the last chance” or something like that. Of course, every experience has been a blessing, and i really have no preference when it comes to women. I like them all. Beauty is such a subjective thing

  2. wellokaythen says:

    Are there any numbers on this out there?

    I ask because I’m curious how common the “older man-younger woman” couple is in the grand scheme of things. We certainly notice it a lot, but in comparison we take no note at all when a man is with a woman his own age. Even if we were to use Hollywood actors as our sample population, how many of the men are with significantly younger women?

    You see men paired up with a wide variety of people. Sometimes his partner is much more intellectual or much more outgoing or much more graceful or much more _____. So, it stands to reason that you’d find a man with a woman who’s much younger.

    My related question is whether age difference is a much bigger issue than any other kind of big difference between two people. I’m not so sure it is.

    • There are some statistics scattered over the net, and there seems to be consistency in the results… The average age gap has not changed much over the years in most Western countries.

      What has changed though is the variability of this gap. It seems that in the past people were marrying with a small age gap, whereas these days, there seems to be a patterned of divorced men marrying younger with each subsequent wife. Not all men engage in this practice, and there are some (mostly singles) who’ll marry women very close to their age or a few years older.

      I don’t think there’s an easy answer regarding your last question of whether it’s an issue. There is a trend in mail order wives among older divorced men, which is something that’s affecting the numbers. On the other end though, it seems there’s more acceptance of older woman/younger man marriages where gender roles aren’t as stiff as they were a few years ago.

      I couldn’t find American statistics, but the ones from European countries seem to tell the same story.

  3. Are older women not attracted to younger men?
    If they aren’t, why not?

    • Some are, some aren’t. I think youth indicates health, vitality, and playfulness. Also reminds of what we’ve “lost” so to speak. It’s very easy to look at young beautiful people and if the desire is purely physical then sure….but if the desire is for an intellectual equal or someone with equal life experiences it MAY be that someone closer in age will provide that. Not always. And some men actually enjoy older women. Some men prefer older men. Etc. People are funny in their variety.

  4. As far as women having a “shelf life” for child bearing, newsflash: men do too. More and more studies are surfacing showing that children who have “older” fathers (35-40+) are more likely to be born with a disability.

    • Newsflash, men can still have kids, women cannot fullstop. The shelf-life for women is much more hardline.

      • The shelf life for women may be more hardline but that doesn’t mean it should be considered the “norm” for a 55 year old man to father children with a woman young enough to be his granddaughter. Men can create children because they can donate sperm – that’s it. But I feel certain you won’t be watching many 58 year old men running hard and playing tag with their 3 year olds without needing to ice his knees later. Society screams older women should not become mothers. It’s sad it never occurs to those who criticize them that perhaps this happens because their lives simply didn’t go as planned when they were younger. And many men find themselves in this exact same situation. Yet society give a pass to aging men who take up younger women to have children while we crucify aging women who did not reproduce and deem them worthless because they are no longer reproductively viable….sheesh what a world we live in.

  5. A question: Why should a woman in her twenties marry a man, whether he’s the same age as she is or older, if there is a high probablity that he will no longer find her attractive when she reaches the age of thirty?

    • You’re right, she shouldn’t. And of course, marriage is no sweet deal for men either, given the tendency for women to dump older, wealthier men and take them to the cleaners.

      Googly ‘hypergamy’ for more on this.

    • Not all men are the same and love also makes a person beautiful throughout time and much more attractive. Men can still find older women very attractive, some may just have more attraction for younger women.

    • Because while attraction can be hugely influenced by physical looks it’s not the end all be all. In addition people making long term relationship and marriages decisions take a lot of other factors besides looks when making choices.

      If someone is choosing to get married based on beauty/looks alone they shouldn’t be getting married.

  6. This really seems to be over thinking things.

    Younger women are attractive. What I have found attractive hasn’t changed over time just because I’m older. The same type of look I found attractive at 16, 20, 25, and 30 I still find attractive at 36. I don’t expect this to change when I’m 40, 50, or 60. I’m pretty sure most people, men and women would be able to admit they were more attractive at 22 than they were at 35.

    Do you also ask the question why younger women date older men?

    • Thanks Jimbo and copyleft for bringing some sense into this discussion. I think the average guy obsesses over power dynamics nearly as much as feminists and the type of people who write for GMP think we do. I’m in my early thirties, and I regularly date women in their early twenties. When I’m with them, the overriding thought is how much more attractive they are than the average girl thirty-something-year-old girl I meet. Power dynamics have almost nothing to do with it. Honestly, I feel more powerful and vital with my current girlfriend than I ever have with the 20-somethings I dated, and she’s a year older than me. But it’s difficult for me to not imagine how good things might have been between us had I met her when she was five or six years younger.

      Dr. Sheck conveniently forgot to mention that attractive younger women have considerably more options in the dating market than their older counterparts, which seriously diminishes the the actual real-life influence any particular man could have over her. If power dynamics were really the driving force, then why is it that these older, powerful men nearly always go for the most attractive younger women? If it was a power thing, wouldn’t just any younger woman do? After all, it’s quite likely than an unattractive younger woman would be far easier to control and manipulate than a beautiful one.

      Men are enchanted by beauty, not age. It just so happens that youth and beauty (especially in women), tend to go hand-in-hand.

      • As I said in an earlier comment, I agree. Men should just admit to themselves, and others, that younger women are simply more attractive and primarily that’s what they are looking for in younger women — physical attraction. I get tired of all the rationalizing.

        I’m a middle aged woman, and although I am in a good relationship, I am perfectly aware of the fact that being an older woman is similar in a way to being a man with no job. I have a lot fewer options when it comes to dating and relationships. I can expect a lot of rejection based on factors which seem unimportant to me. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is.

        If my current relationship ends, I’m not even sure I’d try dating again. I’m 46 and I know that my best bet would be to date men in their 50’s or even 60’s, since most men in their 40’s are trying to date younger. However, I can’t imagine dating some retired guy and spending the next few years hanging out at the senior center and playing with someone else’s grand kids. Guess I’ll get a cat! 🙂

        • Excellent comment Sarah!

          I feel exactly the same way… I just turned 51, and I gave up on finding a permanent partner a few years back. I am very fortunate that I’m extremely healthy and active for my age, and even though I still enjoy some attention from men of different ages (mostly the ones who have no idea of how old I am), but the reality is that most men my age are looking for women a lot younger than me.

          In my case, I find that the ones who are pushing more for a permanent relationship are significantly older than me, and they’re not shy about it. A couple of months ago, I was having a hard time trying to dodge the advances of a man in his 80s who had difficulties walking with a cane. I guess to him, I looked like a little young thing.

      • DD,
        Attraction is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve never been attracted to what society says is attractive and proportional. Nature versus nurture? For me, it WAS the youth that made it attractive, not the conventional beauty.

        And, as a man who until his mid-40s was typically attracted to older women, I reject your generalization that youth has all of the advantages. Yes, we all want what we find attractive and sometimes that is purely biologically/mating inspired and sometimes it is more early childhood imprinting.

        Rarely is anything either/or.

        Take care,
        Adam Sheck

        • Youth is sexually attractive on it’s own, it’s not necessarily about conventional beauty standards.

          My point is, don’t lie to yourself. you prefer younger women because you find them more sexually attractive.

      • “Men are enchanted by beauty, not age. It just so happens that youth and beauty (especially in women), tend to go hand-in-hand.”

        DD, I couldn’t agree more. Yes, Dr. Sheck, beautify is in the eye of the beholder, but I think most men (and women if they’re honest with themselves) can agree, there is a hell of a lot of beauty in youth. Someday they’ll be able to reverse the aging process and then that 80 year old guy who was hitting on Olive will suddenly be attractive to her. She will suddenly see past his body and appreciate who he is inside that body.

        I’ve bee attracted to beautiful women since puberty. They used to be older than me, then we were the same age, and now they’re younger than me. I don’t know what magical age women hit when they suddenly wake up and decide they’re not attracted to beautiful men anymore, but I have yet to wake up and decide soft skin, shiny hair and bright eyes are no longer attractive.

        That’s not to say I don’t appreciate what’s on the inside. Even as a young man I turned down some drop dead gorgeous women because they just offered nothing other than their beauty. The looks catch our eye, and the personality holds us there.

        When I was a boy, my puritanical mother, tried to make me feel as if this attraction I was feeling for women was somehow dirty, but deep inside I couldn’t buy that argument because if felt so incredibly natural and like it was supposed to be. I still feel that way when I see a young woman. There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to them; it’s perfectly natural. Just like it’s natural for a woman to be attracted to a man with great resources. And if you can make an emotional connection, even better!

  7. Or it could simply be that younger women are more sexually attractive than older ones, regardless of the observer’s age. Why would we expect people to only be attracted to someone their own age?

    Dave Barry once noted: “It’s a myth that your sex drive in your forties and fifties isn’t what it was when you were 18. Nonsense! You’re as strongly attracted to 18-year olds as you ever were! It’s people your OWN age you find disgusting.”

    • I kind of agree, I don’t think you have to over analyze why men like younger women, the author’s article seems to have a lot of rationalizations. Why not just admit that it was about sexual attraction? Youth is sexy. Older people don’t look as good. We can admit that, it happens to all of us. That vital young woman, or man, will be as old and haggard as the rest of us sooner than they think.

      • wellokaythen says:

        Ah, but don’t you see? It’s really the subconscious in charge. Our conscious, rational, commonsense explanations are just superficial covering for the real reasons we do things. Psychologists know better than you do about why you do what you do, and you have to ignore the patently obvious to get at the real truth.

        At least, that appears to be the argument here. (And, yes, I realize my reliance on sarcasm is evidence of some sort of neurosis. Probably something to do with some toilet training issue.)

  8. I dated some older guys when I was in my 20’s. Initially I enjoyed the attention, the mentoring, and the nicer dinners and vacations than I got from men my age. Eventually, the age and cultural differences between our generations became tiring (I was Gen X, they were Baby Boomers). Also, they never saw me as a person, it was my youth they loved, not me. I never thought of them as long term relationships, because what happens when I’m older – do they go for the next young woman they meet? If it’s my youthful attractiveness that kept them around, well that wouldn’t last forever. Also, I thought the age gap would be a huge problem in 20 years.

    • Simliar experiences Sarah. Add on to that that I was more intimidated by men my own age. I was always good with older people, even as a kid. But I struggled a little more with my own peers. Plus, I was looking for a father figure. I didn’t have to worry about impressing the older men I dated. I was the prize. All I had to really do was be. I saw their weaknesses in them dating me. It was kind of a weird catch-22 because i didn’t really respect them for it even though I was stil dating them. Even then I knew deep down that it was not good to be with a man that valued youth. But I was too young at the time to really articulate that. I’ve learned that having relationships with men my own age is much more fulfilling, intricate, connected and respectful. Having relationshpis with men my own age is more challenging in a positive way. I dated older men to hide from learning to associate with men my own age. Rejection from men my own age was more painful. Rejection from older men simply wasn’t because they were older.

      I do think that women would be more wise to think more of biology themselves when dating. Younger people, men and women, are both the best biological partners. But our society likes to uphold the fantasy for older them that they should be having kids even as they get into their 40s or 50s and I personally think that’s foolish. And unhealthy. It will only be that older man’s kids that will have to suffer for it.

      All in all, I wish we lived in a culture that respected women for getting older. But we don’t. So I will try to do my part to make it better for younger generations of women that will have to someday face the same issues regarding how men value women.

      • @Erin…..

        “All in all, I wish we lived in a culture that respected women for getting older. But we don’t.”

        Yes, this is the crux of the problem Erin. Many men seem to think that women have a shelf life. This is ludicrious and absurd. We all change mentally and physically as we age. We need to learn to accept, appreciate, and embrace this instead of trying to be “forever young.”

        I prefer women around my age (50). I find their maturity, confidence, beauty, simple elegance, and intellect so appealing. There was a 22 year old cashier that was always hitting on me. Her name was Lauren. One day I asked her if she had ever heard of Lauren Bacall. She said no. I said you should look her up. She is one of the most beautiful women ever. She said, “eww, she must be really old…”

        So, I cannot relate to most women. But men love to marry young (er) women. I mean what does a 50+ man really have in common with a 22 year old?

        • If you want natural kids (as in your partner births the child), yes, women do have a shelf life. It’s a biological fact, it’s a harsh reality. But that doesn’t matter for everyone, and biological instinct may play a part in not being as attractive to those looking for the “full” experience of having a family naturally once menopause kicks in.

          “So, I cannot relate to most women. But men love to marry young (er) women. I mean what does a 50+ man really have in common with a 22 year old?”

          Probably a lot of it is physical but some 22 year olds are also quite mature, I know of some who are as mature as 30-40 year olds I’ve known. You don’t need to be perfect match in common interests you know…Just loving each other and spending time together matters a lot.

          • Archy, I think the idea that anyone has a “shelf life” in their journey of life, a big degrading. My Mom might have gone through menopause but she isn’t on a “shelf”. She deserve love and companionship and sex as much as any woman who hasn’t gone through menopause.

            You also don’t even comment on men and their changing biological parts as they get older. The world has been largely obessed with women and their age and procreation abilties for a very long time. Even in the medicine world. But new reasearch comes about everyday about how older father’s also contribute to genetic mutations. Just because a man can have children at 50, doesn’t always mean he should. Jsut because men don’t experience menopause, doesn’t mean that older men are great biologically sound mating partners.

            I think men need to begin to worry more about their aging bodies and what that means for the future health of their own chidlren instead of pushing all the responsibility onto women in this avenue.

            And yes, we all know 22 year olds can be mature and 40 year olds can be immature. But I have very rarely come across any 22 year old that come match life experience with any 40 year old, mature or not, and that’s part of the disparity.

            Younger men and women are both very attractive. It isn’t just younger women that are attractive. I think after men hit 30 their sperm count begins to decline themselves.

            • “Archy, I think the idea that anyone has a “shelf life” in their journey of life, a big degrading. My Mom might have gone through menopause but she isn’t on a “shelf”. She deserve love and companionship and sex as much as any woman who hasn’t gone through menopause.”

              Her reproductive life has been shelved away, it’s a harsh reality but she has absolutely 0 effective ability to produce a child and for those people who want a typical have sex with partner, she has baby style of having children that mean’s she won’t be an option. Same deal with a man who’s lost his testicles or they no longer function. I didn’t say she doesn’t deserve love or companionship and sex, I mentioned only that the shelf-life for reproduction exists in women to a very black n white conclusion. There is no real shelf-life for love, companion-ship, sex, except the initial growth years to reach maturity (since it’s illegal 0-15 years old for sex).

              “You also don’t even comment on men and their changing biological parts as they get older.”
              Wait, you’ve complained about me talking about “needing to talk about both genders” before, and now that I am not you’re calling me out for it? This is an article about why OLDER MEN CHOOSE YOUNGER WOMEN, I was talking about potential instincts for SOME people who desire a fertile woman. Older men still have a sex drive and those that want the natural birth will need a younger woman to mate with. Yes there are issues with genetic quality of sperm (which can be mitigated to some extent with nutrition) as men age but men can still have kids after women’s reproductive systems have pretty much shut down. This may influence behaviour via instinct if the name of the game is to reproduce.

              “Younger men and women are both very attractive. It isn’t just younger women that are attractive. I think after men hit 30 their sperm count begins to decline themselves.”
              Well the theory of hypergamy, etc would be the woman gets impregnated by a young stallion and the older man raises it (since older men tend to have more resources). But is there an instinct in women to avoid older men based off sperm? Is there one in men to avoid post-menopausal women if you want kids? What I see is this common trait of younger women being seen as the most attractive, whilst rich men with status are seen as the most attractive, where did that popularity come from? Did it evolve via social constructs or is there an instinct driving such behaviour?

              These days I think most people just date a similar age range, though I have noticed men tend to date 0-5 years their junior more than women do. Very rarely do I see a generational gap in dating though and usually that man is wealthy.

        • Jules said: “We all change mentally and physically as we age. We need to learn to accept, appreciate, and embrace this instead of trying to be “forever young.”

          Spot on Jules. I can’t highlight this part enough. If we learned to accept, appreciate, embrace and dare I even say “look foward to” the journey of life, we might actually not fear getting older to begin with.

          Last night I rented The Last Marigold Hotel from net flix. It was about a bunch of older people that all came to this one Hotel from many different situations. It was really great. It didn’t mock or condesend to the older people at all which our society tends to do. We call older people “adorable” when we see them showing love to one another and it’s a big condesending. We believe their age diminishes them when that’s the wrong way to think if you ask me.

          Thanks for being a man that knows how to appreciate women his own age! My Mom is widowed and in her 50s. She has been out of the dating game for a while and I think at times she feels she is too old to date. But I really want her to find a wonderful man that she can find happiness with. It’s good to know there are men her age, like you, that can aprpeciate women your own age.

      • I agree that aging is an issue in our Western culture, for both men and women. That’s why I started my http://www.menafterfifty.com blog. At the same time, what we are “attracted” to and what makes the best long-term partnership potential are sometimes not identical. When it is, it’s the best, when it’s not, it takes maturity and commitment to make the best decisions.

        Adam Sheck

  9. I wonder how much of it is biological…is it common for men to date younger across every culture?

    • It’s not biological, it’s cultural, and it’s common across cultures.

      • When did it start? Is it across cultures that did not meet? 18-25 is most likely the most fertile time which does lead to some biological instinct I think for attractiveness. I see people try to explain this away but I haven’t ever seen proof of it, care to provide any?

      • I don’t deny a cultural element, but were there not a significant biological component skewing the culture toward the older male/younger female pairing, we’d see much more pairing in the other direction. Men have a much longer reproductive window than women. Simple. If a 25-y-o woman wants biological kids, she can reasonably expect to do so with a 60-y-o man. The same doesn’t hold true when you pair a 60-y-o woman with a 25-y-o man.

        • In most Western countries, where societies are more egalitarian, a 25-year-old women would be hard pressed to have a child with a 60-year-old man. This only happens when there’s an economic component and not a cultural one. i.e. Hugh Hefner had his last child at the age of 64.

          The cultural aspect is more evident in cultures that practice very orthodox religions, the more orthodox and patriarchal, the wider the gap. i.e. the Taliban were keen to marry prepubescent girls with 60-year-old men. I doubt the opinion of these girls rarely mattered.

          For a more academic study of how economics affects the supply of younger women to older men, read this…. http://marinaadshade.com/?p=962

    • Archy,
      There’s always the nature/nurture aspect. How much is biological, how much imprinting? My ex-wife was over ten years older than I and I was attracted to older women through my late 30s. I’ve always been attracted to strong women, which usually meant they were older than I.

      Now that I’m the “older” one, I’m still attracted to what I’m attracted to in qualities of a woman, yet they seem more my age or a little younger. Loved 40 year old women in my 30s and in my 50s, so what does that say?


  10. Wow. What a loaded question. We could turn it around and ask “why younger women love older men.” The answers abound. I will say this: I was married to and fathered a child with a woman exactly my age for seven years. Since our divorce a decade ago, I’ve dated older women, younger women, and women basically the same age as me. The best relationship I’ve had was with a woman 15 years my junior. We connected sexually, intellectually, and emotionally and in many ways she was more committed to my son than his own mother. We didn’t last–timing being the main reason and not unrelated to our age difference–but for most of 1 1/2 years we we happy. Not sure what more to ask for.

  11. elissa,
    While there are no guarantees in life and usually it isn’t about either/or, the more honest we can be about ourselves and our motivations, the more chances we have to be happy and to sustain that happiness in long-term relationships.
    Adam Sheck

  12. “Should you marry your much younger yoga teacher?” If you love that person and want to build a life with together, absolutely! If it’s in order to feel younger and better about yourself, absolutely not.

    It can be a soup of both and I suspect most often is –
    Love is a form of insanity, and it’s unrealistic to expect such a clean break between motivations under such a deep fuzz 

  13. wellokaythen,
    I appreciate your well-thought out response to this piece. I don’t believe that I’ve ever stated that MY thoughts are the only and definitive thoughts on this. My sharing of my personal and professional experience is in order to stimulate discussion. AND there’s a lot going on well below our level of consciousness in our lives, not only in this area but in pretty much every area (my belief, again as a psychologist who believes in and has experienced the unconscious in all of its glory as well as its harshness).
    Take care,
    Adam Sheck

  14. wellokaythen says:

    Entirely plausible as an explanation, and no doubt explains some of the situations in which an older man is with a younger woman. As the only explanation, though, or even the main explanation? Maybe not.

    For one thing, not every older man is constantly aware of his own age. In my 40’s now, I have a lot of reminders of my age, but in my mind I don’t always remember that I’m in my 40’s. I see old friends my own age whom I haven’t seen for a while and am always shocked at how old they look, as if in my mind I look the same as the last time I saw them. Maybe that’s a form of rejuvenation, as well – the man gets to forget how old he is.

    Whether it’s beauty myths, youth-oriented culture, or something physiological (probably a combination), younger people are generally considered more attractive. In some ways, the question is a little silly: why are older men attracted to the same women that younger men are attracted to? Answer: maybe because those women are still attractive….

    This article seems to assume that to be normal, healthy, well-adjusted, secure, non-pathological, etc., a man must be with a woman his own age, and if he isn’t, his fear of aging must be the main force. I just find it hard to believe that if there’s an age difference then that age difference is the whole reason for the relationship. Talk about objectifying women and denying agency – younger women only exist as fountains of youth?

    And, in reality, it can be hard to tell the difference between a) feeling young and alive because you’ve fallen in love with someone and b) feeling young and alive because your partner is young herself. Aren’t there moments with people your own age when you feel like a kid again? The search for rejuvenation, the search for renewal, may happen with women your own age, so maybe the age of your partner isn’t the main factor.


  1. […] Everyone has a notion of their ideal age range for a relationship. It’s a common assumption that older men want a younger woman. It seems that many women do as well. Admittedly there is a certain psychological boost to knowing a youthful person finds you attractive. The universal assumption (again another erroneous conclusion)  is that sex is for the young. Having a young partner, physiologically more virile, can lead to better, longer and more frequent sex. If that’s what you’re looking for. A recent article in The Good Men Project discusses why men like younger women in a post titled, Enchanted By Youth:Why Older Men Love Younger Women. […]

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