While fairly normal throughout most of history, relationship and attraction age gaps are a controversial topic these days. Sometimes society barely bats an eye, like when hot older celebrities date girls ten to twenty years younger (or even more).
In other instances, society’s reaction may be creepy, like when a fat old guy gets caught checking out a college girl.
I’m not going to tackle the question on whether large age gaps are natural here in depth (even though I think, based on strict evolutionary psychology and biology, they are). However, I do want to provide some background research and highlight a recent study related to what doesn’t cause them.
An OKCupid analysis showed that men of all ages (yep, all ages) find women in their late teens and early twenties the most attractive. The study also found that guys regularly message women much younger than their “looking for” information suggests (see Dataclysm by Christian Rudder). Despite this reality, guys still generally date women closer to their own age. So apparently most older men would enter into a relationship with a much younger woman, but aren’t given the chance. This could be why large age gaps in general are pretty rare.
So what about older women and younger men? Despite media hype, one recent large, cross-cultural study showed the concept of “cougars” is largely a myth, and that women still prefer dating older men, and men prefer younger women.
So, it seems that age gaps in attraction and even relationships aren’t going away any time soon. None of this shocks me because it makes sense when understanding the evolution of human attraction. Women prefer men with status and power, and a quality older man (in shape, confident, in a good job, etc) will naturally have more of this than most younger guys.
So, to get to the point of the title…Despite all of this information, some people like to shame women who like older men as having “daddy issues” (or shame the men who have been in relationships with younger women – like Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, Donald Trump, etc – for having issues themselves).
Well, a new study suggests women who date much older men have no “daddy” issues, and have the same type of attachment women in similar-age relationships have.
I believe that the whole “daddy issues” put down is usually used by older women and younger men who are jealous. Older women get jealous because a quality older man isn’t dating them, and younger men are because an older man has taken a younger girl from the dating scene.
So, ladies, keep crushing on Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt. It’s perfectly natural, and not a reflection on you or your relationship with your dad. Although if you are twenty and start dating a ninety-year old, I admit, I might at least give you a slightly shocked look.