One of the best charts in Christian Rudder’s book, Dataclysm, shows how women prefer dating men who are a few years older than them…until they turn 40. That’s when women start to find younger men more attractive.
Don’t believe him? Well, you should! As one of the co-founders of OKCupid, he’s an expert on online dating.
From 39 to 41 years of age, women consider 38-year-old men to be the best looking. From 42 to 44 years of age, women like them at 39 years and then from 45 to 48 years of age, women prefer them between 38 and 40. You’re seeing the trend, I’m sure.
You’re probably asking yourself why.
Well, Mr. Rudder doesn’t get into the details but I think it’s got to do with stereotypes.
We have a terrible habit of using heuristics—short cuts—for making decisions, so while we know 50-year olds can be active, hot and fun, we automatically think of them as decrepit and boring homebodies. We even do this if we personally know lots of 50-somethings who are living it up. We even do this if we’re a 50-something living it up! So when we’re swiping at light speed, there is no time for our rational mind to remind us that 50 is the new 40.
Sometimes, I use Tinder for market research purposes. Originally, I had my age range set to 30-45 (typical!) but after reading Dataclysm, I maxed out the age range. Oh my God, I literally found a treasure trove of nice, handsome and fun men. And they were so keen to talk because they rarely got attention!
They asked me for advice on how to find more women. Below is the advice I gave them:
- Change your age on the app. This is good for short-term gain but it’s long-term pain because you will eventually have to admit you lied on your profile and that may not sit well with some. It’s best to say your true age in the bio section and explain why you made the edit with a bit of humor.
- Get off apps and meet people in real life. If you’re back in the dating game after a hiatus, you can use a dating coach to dust off your game and get comfortable again.
- Use a matchmaker because we know how to deal with misconceptions people have about age and can communicate people’s value beyond their age.
Check out OKCupid’s graph showing what men think is the ideal age for women. Is it comical or depressing? I’m not sure.
Whatever route you take, remember your age isn’t the only thing that defines you. Being out of shape can happen at any age; a fun and easygoing personality isn’t something that withers away once you retire.
First published in Maitre D’ate