Online Dating Report: Women Want Younger Men

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When it comes to dating with an age difference, there's usually only one story told: men love younger women, and women love older men.

Yeah, it's true - some men do want to date younger women and some women do only go for older men - but it's not the full story, and it's time we recognized that there's more to May-December dating than one unscientific-but-still-predominant view.

AYI.com (Are You Interested?), a dating service that uses Facebook to pair people based on interests, has pulled data from its 68 million downloads and 20 million Facebook profiles to analyze what it takes to make a successful match. Their experiment focused in on the 1 million recommended pairings in a specific population of 35,942 users ages 30 to 49.

AYI's most surprising finding was this: their female subscribers were five times more likely to show interest in men who were five years their junior than men who were five years older. The old narrative is outdated and inaccurate.

Well, sort of. Men do still like dating younger women, as the AYI study proved. Among the 26,434 men between the ages of 30 and 49 who were studied, 42% said they wouldn't even consider dating a woman if she was older than them. If, however, an older woman contacted them first, they admitted they wouldn't necessarily turn her down. AYI's data shows that a man is only 22% less likely to respond to an older woman than to a younger woman if she is the one who initiates contact.

What gives, guys? If you think older women are an easy target with no other options - and it doesn't require any preliminary effort on your part - you'll go for it, but otherwise you won't go anywhere near them? That doesn't sound like the progressive society I like to think I live in.

There are a few theories that explain why AYI's study turned up its findings. Once upon a time, AYI analysts think, young women marrying older men had an appeal based on wealth. While there are still plenty of women who like the idea of marrying for money, younger women are now inundated with requests from older men on dating sites and the myth of the Sugar Daddy is never as glamourous as it seems.

A 2008 study published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that women who are 10 or more years older than their partner are more satisfied and more committed to their relationships than women who are the same age or younger than their partners. So guys...don't limit yourself to younger women, and girls...don't be afraid of dating younger men.