The Hefner Effect: Young Women and Older Men

In the third of a five-part series on love and relationships, Tom Matlack and author Laura Munson debate the question: Why do young women and older men get along so well?

MUNSON: I was raised by an “old man.” My father was 50 and gray when I was born. He used words like “davenport,” “filling station,” and “ice box.” His mother was born in the 1800s and she lived in a nursing home in her last years, where we visited her every night. My father would pass by the rooms and look in and say, “That man used to be the CEO of Sears and Roebuck. It’s hell to get old.” But I noticed that those old men loved me. In fact, as my father aged, his friends would occupy my dance card, as it were, at a multi-generational gathering. And I obliged. I wasn’t scared of their liver spots, canes, and quivering voices. I knew that it was hell to get old, and I was happy to walk arm-in-arm with them through the door, or to get them a plate of food so they wouldn’t have to get up off the “davenport.”

And let’s be honest—I knew that I was “giving an old guy a thrill.” I’d heard it in those exact words from plenty of them. They thanked me for things boys my age often missed: simple things like my smile, my thin ankles—and they meant it. As an adult, I wonder why that is. Is it that men never outgrow their need to feel important to a woman, and their own wives and contemporary lady friends have long soured on stoking their egos? Maybe so.

But why would a young girl oblige? What’s in it for her? I think it’s because I knew there was no threat of sex. No threat for a jealous episode with a girlfriend. I knew I didn’t have to prove myself. They liked my ankles and my smile and that was enough. It was a win-win. I watched that win-win all the way to my father’s deathbed, where he flirted with the nurses. I forgave him for it and so did they. Maybe it’s one of life’s secret agreements.


MATLACK: Natasha Vargas-Cooper writes in her recent Atlantic article “Hard Core”:  “One of the most punishing realities women face when they reach sexual maturity is that their maturity is (at least to many men) unsexy.”

Yes, I think old men asking young women to dance is one thing—it’s cute and harmless—but that it isn’t what’s really going on most of the time. There is a sexual component. There are countless old guys married to young women, and many more older men masturbating to images of young women on the Web. I don’t pretend to completely understand it, but I viscerally believe it is a sellout to true love and goodness on both sides.

I concede that true love is ageless, and that an outsider can never know what happens behind closed doors in a marriage. I would never comment on the success or failure of any particular couple, but the societal phenomenon of old guys and young women is worth talking about.

I sometimes think that marriage is like a boxing match. When the sparring partners are well matched, it goes on and on, with blood and guts on the canvas and beauty emerging from the violence of the engagement. When older men marry younger women, the partners have given up on the idea of going head-to-head with their peer in age and in power. The male and female roles are exaggerated into some kind of daddy-daughter dynamic that is somehow more comfortable than trying to slug it out with someone your own age.

When they give in to the Woody Allen “the-heart-wants-what-the-heart-wants” gravitational pull, both parties make a concession. The much younger woman embodies vitality and beauty—and the guy’s power, defined in its rawest form, becomes the central aphrodisiac. Everyone knows where they stand.

I can’t help but be saddened when I see this pattern over and over again among my friends and in the newspapers, because at bottom it points to our collective obsession with superficialities. We worship material wealth and youth. And boobs.

Money and power or teenage-model good looks don’t make anyone happy in the long term—contrary to the consistent message of popular culture.

At the extreme, both the old man and the young woman are stooping to a commercial transaction—prostituting themselves. She’s selling youth, beauty, and sex, and he’s buying it. Whether you’re sleeping with a guy for $100 or $100 million, it’s all the same. Both sides of the trade miss out on something more genuine than sex, and the kids miss out on having a dad—since most of these guys will be in retirement homes (or dead) by the time their children make it to college.

But maybe I am just being a prude. New research shows that this whole thing is about the survival of the race. The practice of older men chasing younger women may contribute to human longevity and the survival of the species.


MUNSON: I find it interesting that when I read the question, I didn’t read the phrase “get along so well” as having to do with sex or marriage. I thought about it in terms of dynamic. I don’t have any friends who have fit into that societal stereotype, wherein the old man marries the young hot girl with the “boobs.” I think of that scenario as a myth some people might give in to, and I’m not that interested in it. I think we would do better as a society to start shifting away from these myths. I don’t even believe in the male “midlife crisis.” But I do believe that it’s sold to men, from the time they’re kids, that the prize is youth in women and wealth in men. And I do believe in the power of that lie. Let’s tell ourselves a different story, shall we?


Read others in this series: “Great Sex or Fighting Fair?“ and “Looks and Longterm Fidelity.”


Laura A. Munson, author of This Is Not the Story You Think It Is, wrote one of the most widely read and talked about New York Times Modern Love columns ever: “Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear.” She lives with her family in Montana. You can visit her website, and find her on Facebook and  Twitter.


—Photo by Gizmo2469/photobucket

♦ ♦ ♦

Tom Matlack, together with James Houghton and Larry Bean, published an anthology of stories about defining moments in men’s lives — The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood. It was how the The Good Men Project first began. Want to buy the book? Click here. Want to learn more? Here you go.

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. anonymous says:

    When it comes to this topic, a lot of people speak out of their own experiences and prejudice. I’m a 33yr old woman who adores the older man. Most of my friends my age are married to men in their early to middle 40’s and are extremely happy depending on their compatibility as well as, the personality of that guy. I have noticed that older men don’t mind his mate pursuing her goals and going after her dreams in life as they plan for their future together. Whereas, younger men have to be dominant and be the bread winner of the household while suggesting that the wife stay home and have children and raise them. I have been married for 10yrs to a man that is 1 yr older than myself and we have a huge difference of opinions when it comes to life, our future, retirement and our children’s future. I’ve come to find that mature older men know what they want and know how to fearlessly go after it. They don’t need to be taught how to love and lead in and out of the home which can be hard for a woman to have to do while raising children. But me myself, i also agree on growing and maturing with a mate of your youth. With that said, I’m here to stay as long as life allows me to be but still think older men are super sexy.

  2. I don’t have strong polarized opinions on too many things. However, there is something wrong with a man who wants to have a romantic and sexual relationship with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Spare me the evolutionary biology arguments.

    Seeing as how I’m a reasonable person, I’ll admit there are probably exceptions. I have a close friend whose husband is 25 years older than her. Another friend whose husband is 15 years older than her. I’m not sure where you draw the line in terms of “young” and “old”. How big can the gap be before it’s “icky” ? I don’t know. Personality and life experience plays a role, for sure. Couples need a common ground. Age is a typical way for that to happen but it can also happen across age brackets as well.

    That being said, in most cases, I wonder about old men (50s) who fancy themselves suitable for a relationship with a 20-something woman. Arrogance, perhaps. Pickiness. Selfishness. Most likely, though, old men have predatory intentions — young women are naive and won’t call you out on your shit that women with more life experience will. Not that men are actively thinking this, but a young girl will not criticize them in the way their previous, older girlfriends have and he is likely to enjoy that. An immature man looks for someone his own mental age, rather than working on becoming more mature.

    Before someone attacks me for being sexist and promoting a double standard, I think there is also something wrong with the maturity level and intentions of an older woman going after a younger man. An older woman who acts much too young for her age is refusing to accept age in a graceful way. She is still caught up in trying to be sexually appealing as her primary value in the culture. This is something life experience typically unravels. She also probably sees a younger man as being easier to manipulate.

    Older people should not take advantage of a younger person’s naivety, regardless of sex. With age comes the responsibility of ushering in the next generation of humans to be helpful, rather than harmful or predatory. To older people attracted to your children’s generation — it is not your job to mate with them. Refusing to confront your own maturity issues by going after a partner who will instead validate your immaturity is irresponsible.

  3. My wife is over 30 years younger than me. We met in her Asian country when I doing some work for an NGO. She is beautiful and has the body of a model. She has been in the U.S. for about two years now and cannot understand why young women here want to be with young men who cannot be trusted. For her, it’s all about maturity and trust. Young men cannot be trusted to be faithful.

    Most of the people who commented on this site do not have a clue what this issue is all about. Find out for yourself and go visit an Asian country and spend some time there. The U.S. is full of obese, ugly women who do nothing but bitch.

  4. What a MORON !

    Dumb ASS !

  5. wellokaythen says:

    It would be stupid to say that it’s not about looks or the physical side at all, but it’s often more than that. Younger women appeal to older men for all sorts of reasons beyond the fact that their bodies are younger. Women as they get older can become quite bitter (and I’m sure men are often to blame for that!), more depressed, less spirited, etc. The nightmare stereotype of the man leaving his wife for a younger woman tends to assume that his wife is completely the same woman she was 15 years before except for physical changes, but that’s not the only way that people change. I’m not saying this excuses the man in cases like this, just that let’s face the facts that it’s not just superficial. (Assuming sexual arousal is “just superficial.”)

    It’s clearly not strictly physical for the younger women themselves. Many of them are foregoing men their own age who are at their physical peak and choosing older men who may be less perfect physical specimens.

  6. @The Original article.

    Ahh but you’re forgetting the reason men & women exist in nature & how we are in nature. Don’t care how many big buildings we build, banks we have or carscellpodiphones you have.. we’re all still human animals. Nature tells a guy when he sees a hot woman get with that.. she’ll make you look good,feel good, keep your gene pool filled.. far too often we chat about, society this and society that.. and we completely forget about human nature.

    • I don’t think anyone is forgetting human nature. I think the point is that human nature extends beyond the biological. It encompasses every diverse aspect of ourselves.

      Rumspringa, what if a woman didn’t waste her *prime* years chasing “McSteamys” and divorcing husbands? What if she was in a stable relationships and HE left HER? You act like there is only one situation in life and for that situation, all women deserve to be left and disrespected. And even IF a younger woman dates you, an older man, she will age too. I think you’re just threatened in general by women. And in that threat you want to attempt to tear women down. We aren’t your enemy. And men do become attractive with age, to a certain point. That doesn’t go on endlessly. Once men hit the ripe age of 30, their sperm declines in quaulity and qaunitity.

  7. However, said good man would probably have divorced his wife when she got older or he’d be cheating on her with younger women, right? Women just can’t win.

  8. I am in a wonderful relationship with an older man. And when I saw your post come across Twitter today, I couldn’t help but chime in. I have to warn you… I am not a wordsmith. But for those who may be interested, here is my two cents from a woman who doesn’t rely on statistics and writes just like I speak.
    When my man was in his 20s & having children with his first wife, I was a pre-teen, dancing in my underwear singing into a hairbrush. Now his children are having children, and mine are in elementary and high school.
    There are many differences b/w he and other men I have dated. Absolutely wonderful differences. He carries himself and speaks with confidence…is sure of who he is as a man…and is comfortable in his own skin. Communication is so refreshing…he listens and converses with me without constantly trying to “fix” me…and makes eye contact during conversation, whether we are sharing, laughing, or discussing topics that are a wee bit tense. He knows what he wants out of life, and wants a partner he can embrace life with, and feels no need to constantly prove to others he can. I can not tell you how extremely sexy these qualities are to me.
    And I do mean SEXY. Our lovemaking is simply amazing. And no, I do not have a perfect body with voluptuous breasts. But all you need is a mouthful, right? 😉 Ok, that may have been a wee bit on the tacky side, but you get my point. It’s not about my body or his body…it’s about the emotional AND physical chemistry/connection between the two people…and age difference doesn’t hinder that if it’s there.
    I don’t know if all older men are well versed in how to make love to a woman, but my older man sure as hell knows how to make love to this woman. Oh. My. God. This man has stamina, creativity and patience like no other past lover, 10, 15, even 20 years his junior. If it’s his years more of experience that has made him such an incredible lover, then I say “thank you” to those years, and I am more than happy to be able to say that I am the lucky woman who gets to benefit from them.
    When my kids are with me he spends time with me as mom and actually thinks the fact that I am a mom is a POSITIVE thing. He gets down on the floor with my 3rd grader, rough houses with him, then puts on his readers to help him understand the rules of a new game he is playing. He isn’t bothered by my teenage daughters’ moodiness b/c he has “been there done that” already. He talks with them, jokes with them, and models respect of me as their mother to them.
    When his latest grandchild was born, he asked me to drive with him the hour or so away so he could meet his precious granddaughter. And I got to see him hold her for the very first time. Never once did it cross my mind that my boyfriend is a grandfather. The only thing I saw was an extremely handsome man completely in love with a precious baby girl, and it only drew me closer to him.
    Somewhere in these comments the older man’s pocketbook was mentioned. Yep, his is a lot better looking than mine. His toys are all paid for, he is basically debt free, and is financially secure. I am not. Yes, he has given me some very special gifts that mean the world to me that I could never afford to buy. Takes me to places I would otherwise not go. He tells me if I need help financially I can turn to him. And I do turn to him…emotionally…physically…but not financially. I’m making ends meet, proudly own my own place with the help of my mortgage company, and I’m not after his pocketbook.
    I don’t know if we have the typical “older man, younger woman” relationship.
    But I do know that I am a very happy and sexually satisfied woman. And he tells me, and behaves, like he is a very happy and sexually satisfied man. Yes our age difference can be an issue. Just last night he said, “You are so beautiful, and young, and I want to be fair to you. Don’t want you to waste your youth.”
    Waste my youth? On being an extremely happy, sexually satisfied woman who looks forward to each moment I spend with my man? A man who treats me better than I have ever been treated? A man who truly makes me feel like a woman? A man that I am completely in love with…
    I am not wasting even one day. And can’t wait for my next day with him.

  9. I will second Hugo’s praise of Tom’s comment : “…but I viscerally believe it is a sellout to true love and goodness on both sides.” Because that’s how it was for me when I was younger and dated older men.
    I was a late bloomer and in my early 20s I learned that older men appeared to be more interested in me then men my own age. Perhaps it was because I always had an easier time relating to older people, both men and women. And older men were not as sexually threatening to me as men my age where. Perhaps it was because I had a wonderful father that loved me very much, but he came from a very industrial old school work ethic where how hard you worked to provide for the family = love, which didn’t afford him much time to be around; plus he struggled with being demonstrative in his affections. Perhaps I was infact seeking the long stereotyped “daddy figure”. Perhaps it was because older men just made it easy for me where I didn’t have to compete with other girls my age for other men my age and I certainly didn’t really have to do anything else other then be charming, cute and grateful. And being the younger and sexier person in the relationship did make me feel important. I suspect it’s a mix of all those reasons, some more then others. Older men in my early 20s gave me the kind of worldly experiences I desired and hoped I was good enough to deserve. Living in NJ, I was taken to nice restaurants in NYC, plays, sports games in box office seats, etc etc etc. But I never fell in love with the older men I dated. They sought commitment and promises of settling down where I was still just trying to learn who I was and what I was about. It did always sit in the back of my mind about what would happen in 10, 20 or 30 years when I was no longer new and shiny. And I felt a little bite of contempt for these older men because my age was important to them. That’s the part that most younger women don’t think about. No one is 20 forever.
    So now in my late 20s, while I would still date an older man if we were compatible, I have learned some key things now that I didn’t know a few years ago. And here they are:
    There are two different types of older men. Older men who only date younger women, whether it’s by 2 years or 20. In my online dating experiences, I always avoid men of any age (even if I fit into their age range) that list their desired age range of the women they could be interested even a year or two younger then themselves. The other type of older men are men that will date younger women if they find someone compatible and attractive but also are attracted to women their own age, or older women as well, treating all these women with respect. This is a key character trait to be aware of in a man as a woman of ANY age.
    There will be issues no matter what aged man you date. There will be age related issues with older men such as lack of energy, interest incompatibility, possible power struggles because usually older men that only date younger women want the control in the relationship, and the list goes on. There will also be age related issues with men that a woman might date in her own age range. Possible immaturity and not a readiness to settle down, haven’t yet learned what it takes to sustain a committed adult relationship…etc etc etc.
    The only people that say older men are more mature and better sexually are older men. Older men are NOT more mature or better at sex as a rule. This based on my personal experiences so if any older men here want to nay-say it and lay claim that they dated other older men and know, go ahead. Not all younger men are selfish ,indulgent, uncouth ogres. And not older men are wise, stable, healthy individuals. (Especially older men that ONLY go for younger women). Now of course, there are younger men that are unstable and uncouth and older men that are mature and wonderful. But usually the reason older men date younger women is not only for their beauty, but because they feel like they can impress her more easily due to her inexperience where women his own age would hold more expectations of him at a certain point in his life. As a rule of thumb, you can’t judge someone’s wisdom by their age.
    There is mounting research that not only older women contribute to birth defects in children, but older men do too. The fact that women have more earning power and don’t have to relay on men as much opens the doors for women to also judge on such factors as man’s personal health and attractiveness on a level that women didn’t have the opportunity to do decades ago.
    Men do have Hollywood on their side. Which I think helps to keep the idea running that older men should be with younger women. Hollywood is built and mainly run by men. Men who want to facilitate an image, a fantasy, that men never become insignificant to the world while they can indulge in the praise of beautiful women no matter how old he gets. So images of older men with younger women is common in Hollywood, but not so much in my own real life realm. Lets just take Hugh Hefner as an example. He was seen as a king in his day but now he seems more like a joke. Trying to cling to women 60 years his junior. This is a man that has not had personal growth since platform heels and bellbottoms became sound fashion choices. I personally don’t want to see either men or women downplayed as insignificant to the world. But I do think that too many men DO want to buy into the myth that they never cease to become insignificant to the world while they can treat women like interchangeable objects. Because that image gives men power.
    To wrap up my long worded post, as I have gotten older, the men I am more interested in dating have gotten younger. Meaning, in my same decade but not younger then me. Where I found the older man dynamic sexy and exciting in my early 20s, I now find that connecting with men in my own decade 10 times more thrilling on a level I never had with older men. And at least with them, I know I’m not just an ticking expiration date. Because like Tom pointed out, they challenge me, they engage me, they expect things of me, we are equals and we can experience the same life turning points at the same time. And I’m at a age that while I still struggle with my personal insecurities, I’m willing to fight and work for a true relationship with a man that is my counterpart, then hide behind a man that made it easy for me as a daddy-figure and made me feel like all I had to do was look cute. I guess that’s what maturity does to you. Makes you see the value in the things that you actually have to work for vs the things that just come to you by default of birth dates.

    • Erin, thank you for speaking from experience and giving your fair and dispassionate view on this matter. From my own experience, almost everything you said was spot-on. Cheers!

    • I’m in my 40’s now but when I was in my 20’s I had a few relationships with older guys. I agree with what you are saying. The older guys had more money and status than guys my age but i never felt like they really appreciated me as a person. They were just addicted to the thrill of being with a younger woman. I felt like nothing else really mattered to them. They were just happy to have a younger woman, any younger woman. I had no other qualities that seemed to matter to them. In the end it became tiresome. Also I didn’t really fancy the idea of being married to a guy in his 70’s when I was 50. Also, like you say, it’s not true that older guys are better in bed. They had the same faults as younger guys but less stamina.

  10. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    As an older man who divorced and remarried (both times to age-appropriate women), I dated two women who were out of my age bracket in the interregnum. Twenty-four age difference on one, and twenty-eight onn the other. Some observations:

    1. Older men are likely to be far better lovers than younger ones. I don’t understand the comment about older men not being as interested in asex above. I’ve never noticed. And ED drugs now help, contra the article here a couple of weeks ago. Some of us could and can go all night, if that’s what the lady wants. At 65, I’m a lot more fun than at 22. Some of us look pretty okay at 65, too.

    2. Many younger men are “attractive” because they act like what my students call “douchebags,” hard, aggressive, hard to get or keep stylish weenies. This is attractive to women because these are external markers of sexuality (see sociobiology and intermittent reinforcement) but it’s not real sex or love. One suspects that part of the attraction of younger men ts that they’re disposable because of their superficiality.

    3. Yes the power thing is salient. But it’s the power to mentor and love in a deep way. Not just aggression.

    4. One caveat is that, because it’s a mentoring relationship, the younger woman always dumps you in order to grow. As with any relationship, it’s not easy being friends after.

  11. “but I viscerally believe it is a sellout to true love and goodness on both sides.”

    Bingo, Tom. Thank you for that.

  12. Here’s a sad story, billionaire marries a 16 yro Brazilian, has three kids and lives common-law in Quebec. He files for separation and provides a mansion and servants for her and the children. She responds by going to the supreme court to get at his fortune.

    IUC Exclusive: Ex lawyers of gold-digging Model suing Cirque du Soleil Prez Reveal All To IUC


    IUC Exclusive: Cirque Du Soleil Billionaire Guy Laliberte took care of Gold-Digging ex lover’s Family For Years Despite Being Constantly Harassed


    IUC Exclusive: Cirque Du Soleil Billionaire Guy Laliberte was crushed when ex Brazilian gold-digger lover cheated on him


    IUC Exclusive: Gold-Digger Moreira Planned to Move Kids to New York or Brazil after Court Case against Cirque Du Soleil Billionaire


  13. I’m not so sure its such a horrible thing. An older man brings maturity and wisdom and sensibility that many women (of all ages) might find attractive. There are perfectly good reasons why a younger woman might find an older man attractive — besides his wallet.

    As for the other way around. First, in general younger women are more attractive. I didn’t create mankind, so don’t shoot the messenger. It’s just true, and so what? Second, a younger woman is often enough more likely to worship and respect an older man than someone his own age — and for most men that feels kinda nice. Third, a younger woman can reinvigorate a man and make him feel young again. Is that such a horrible thing?

    Why the assumption that its all prostitution, or superficial, or not among “peers”. A 37 year old woman is every bit a peer to a 47 year old man — and both parties are capable of having a mature relationship. Why are we judging these relationships between two grown-ups. Let them have fun and enjoy each other’s love without us layering in generalizations or pathologies. Love comes in many forms and flavors.

    BTW, I am not with a younger woman, nor have I been with one. But I have friends who have, and many of them are in happy and loving relationships.

  14. Tom Matlack says:

    This piece in this week’s New Yorker made me rethink some of what I wrote, about a 48 year old man and his 20 something wife. One of the best pieces I have read in a long time (even if it made me cry). Check it out. They don’t allow links so you will need to track it down. But worth the effort.
    THE WAVE:A tragedy in Mexico.
    by Francisco Goldman is about the writer’s marriage to Aura Estrada and Estrada’s death from injuries suffered in a swimming accident at Mazunte, Mexico, in 2007.

    • I read that article twice. Good to see you’ve reconsidered some of the views you express here. Leave to the Hugo Schwyzers of this world the masochistic notion that if you’re over 40, you can only date women medically certified as having gone through menopause.

    • There will always be outliers. This story is one of those. I’d still like to see these couples participate in psychological studies – depending on the age gap, controlling for it in fact, that will possibly glean narcissism in men and abuse/neglect/absent fathers in the women. That supports that authors daddy-daughter theory and twists in a little incestuous attraction – but it’s okay because they aren’t really related. Then it’s ‘written off’ as survival of fitness / natural selection or whatever. Yuck.

  15. To put stereotypes in perspective; these are generalizations that do not apply to everybody and the variation in individuals is often greater than societal averages.

     “It was found that the happiest group of husbands had wives twelve or more years younger, but that the happiest wives were from four to ten years older than their husbands. Yet the happiest couples were those in which the husband was from three to five years older..the most important consideration is not age, but maturity.” 

    The average age of first marriage in the United States in 1956 was 22.5 for men and 20.1 for women. In 2007, it was 27.5 for men, 25.6 for women. 

    The sexual revolution changed a lot for women and only recently are men starting to catch up (douche-bags).  The popularity of cougars is a stark contrast to the image of an old man preying on young girls.   A 2003 AARP study found that 34% of forty-year and older women were “dating” younger men. 

    Women on average have low paying jobs than men *but* women have more spending power and disposable income.  There are still social pressures for men to pay for dates, a ring and be a provider.  I’ve met many women who despair at the choices of men that they either just want sex or don’t have a car, a job and their own home.  To which, I reply about the women who want a sugar daddy and don’t have a car, a job and their own home. 

    Throughout history, mothers gave fathers sexual access and fidelity in exchange for protection and support from the fathers. This allowed two adults to work together to raise the nearly helpless children, thereby increasing the chances that their genes would survive to subsequent generations.  Marriage is no longer a necessity for women to have children and men are far too often disposable. . 

    “At the extreme, both the old man and the young woman are stooping to a commercial transaction—prostituting themselves.” 
    Yep, she gets paid, he gets f**ked and the state is her pimp.

  16. I just figured some people didnt want to work for aliving and so they married someone who already had money. Why should that quest for stability be gender specific?

  17. What a lazy article. Did either of you bother conversing with any age gap couples at all, or have you simply relegated this nice bit of ageism to your own Richard Attenborough-like observations? 50 years ago, this article would be about interracial relationships.

    • I’m not sure who “Same” is but, dear Same,
      This is not an “article,” so it was not about research. It was about answering questions from our gut and being willing to be vulnerable and honest and responsible for our musings. I’m sort of sorry I shared about my deceased father after reading your very careless response. yrs. Laura

      • I am 67 with a wife 25 years younger. our sons are 3 and 5. We have been married 14 years. Damned if I understand what all the backchat is about. Joe and Rumspringa, hey guys, stop and smell the flowers. If you are on your deathbed ie when, I sincerely hope there is someone who cares for you and who forgives your foibles. If you are the men you pretend to be …be polite.

  18. My take on “get along so well” is that the older guys haven’t got so much to prove about themselves. They’ve made their money, if they’re going to, and if they haven’t, at least they’ve demonstrated that they can survive in the world. They’re ready to settle down and be comfortable. Are younger men really easy in their lives? The ones with energy are up and doing, and the ones without, are too often blatantly being lazy–with drink and sports (as spectators!) and videos. Women may not have the ambition, and some might say, in our society not the opportunities, but women tend to get things in order, get a job, find a home, and generally deal with life.

    So you find that the younger women and the older men really do “get along so well” just because their outlooks on life are compatible. If it goes as far as sex, then there’s sex, but it doesn’t have to. In fact sexual energy is often a thing that young men offer to young women, that the women may wish they could either keep under control, or drop altogether. We keep thinking in terms of who’s attracted to whom, but there are ways we can appreciate someone that are only vaguely sexual.

  19. Rich N. Phaemus says:

    Having been the older guy in the older guy/younger woman scenario I appreciate this discussion and the insight it brings to me in rationalizing and dissecting the relationship.

    A trade-off of youth for power – yes, there was definitely that. But the younger partner also is able to exercise the power of being the supremely desirable component in the relationship – not financial power, a different yet very strong power. Their confidence in their physical attraction and the power gained by bestowing their grace, youth and beauty upon the willing and receptive older recipient may be construed as a financial transaction, or in my case as a societal transaction – more who do you know versus what do you have.

    Have to give this more thought to finish this comment. And thanks for not outing me, Tom…..

  20. Marriage is not a bloodsport.

    • Marky mark says:

      Ron – you must be single…

      • Ron – I realize I’m replying nearly 4 years after the post, but I think you may have missed the artistic liberty that the author took to describe the trials and tribulations of marriage that lead to what I call “life equity.” In addition, the contrast he makes is that older man/younger woman may be a concession: it’s the couple perhaps not wanting to try all that hard to grow deeply that “life equity” and are comfortable on the surface. (As I have seen over and over, the young female tires of this when she grows up (when her emotional maturity surpasses his) and realizes she needs and wants a deeper connection and commitment….and kids.)

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Ron I did say “sometimes”…

    • I don’t think that Tom meant that literally. I get from his post that a good marriage is raw, no-one goes in wearing their kevlar and you morph with the other person, hopefully for the better and i think a good marriage brings that growth the peeling back of the onion so to speak-revealing the authentic and the sacred in both and sometimes , just sometimes it is not easy. I am so happy to see this webpage. I love a good man and have been wondering in context, just what that means these days. I have heard that younger women prefer older men for the money, but then what does that give back to the men? Does one think about what is being valued here or does it even matter to men as long as they have the young woman on their arms and in terms of preservation, i did not know what i was doing until i was 40 with my children and i tried to compensate for a man older than myself who knew even less. youth doesn’t insure healthy well adjusted children. I get it the analogy and the comparison. Give me someone who is my sparring partner, i have had enough of babes in the woods.

    • As someone who was once married to someone who turned out to be less than capable i get the allusion to sparring. i think it was a metaphor for someone who can be authentic with their heart and life and that my dear, is no easy task. What i am curious about is men whose self-esteem is caught up in what they bring to the table in terms of economics. How does one feel about themselves if a younger woman only values that? Please, it took me until i was 40 to understand the subtle dynamics in life and my children, young woman unless they have had a healthy upbringing , bring some not to savory behaviors to the table and not all. I love a good man, myself but want a partner, not the other. I wonder deeply about you guys since the love of my life is younger than myself.

  21. David Wise says:

    The cougar phenomenon shows the sexual dynamics in society has changed, More and more younger guys are dating and marrying older women. I think as women gain economic and political power, these May/December relationships will become more common. I’m 50 and I find myself almost equally attracted to women my age and younger. If no one has noticed, there are a lot of “mature” websites highlighting the beauty of older gals. After my breakup, my ex was approached by young men and she’s been with a guy 13 years her junior for 7 years. The stereotype of the old dude chasing the young female is so “Mad Men.”

    • I would like to believe you David, but the reality is that a guy dating a girl 13 years is not considered to be robbing the cradle while generally speaking a woman doing the same is. In fact, it’s almost expected (at least there’s nothing unusual) that a guy would be dating someone at least 10 years younger sometimes. I think your ex is an exception, but good for her nonetheless.

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