Why Do We Date Older Men?

The first time I dated a much older guy was in my first month studying in Japan. When I was nervous, lonely and in need of someone to explain how to do basic Japanese cooking with things from the local shop, Satoshi was there for me. I was a young 19 year old and he was 30, a local dentist with fluent but often adorable English.

He took charge, helped me settle down into Japanese life, and was great in bed.

Though we didn’t last long together (I discovered that Satoshi’s fetish for young white women meant that he had at least 4 or 5 of us on the go), my mind was then open to dating much older guys, and the benefits of doing so.

Since then, I have always aimed for older guys – most of the people I dated in my 20s were in their mid to late thirties, believing that guys over 30 are just better. When I hit 30, I had a massive crisis, questioning who I was and what the fuck I was doing with my life – I want a guy who has done the same thinking and has come out of it wanting some stability, who wants to walk around National Trust properties instead of the local smelly nightclub.

I didn’t question this at all, until recently when I was listening to an episode of Why Oh Why podcast. In it, Mona Chalbani explains that women are programmed to believe that 32 is the sexiest age, where for men it’s 20. There are a whole range of ways in which we are taught to go after older guys, and even more reasons why this is a product of the patriarchy. You should really go listen to it, it’s amazing.

I had never for one second thought of it this way. While my POF profile angrily exclaimed in all caps that I only want to hear from guys older than me, I have no good reason to believe that someone older than me is going to be any better match for me than someone younger.

In my last long term relationship, I was with someone three years younger than me. Other ways in which he was different to me included that he is Dutch and also from a very affluent family. I find differences (especially cultural ones) the sexist things of all, so it worked really well. Until Christmas came around and he demanded we go to his family’s Swiss home, where he would ski every day and I would sit alone, unable to ski due to knee issues.

When we split, with him explaining that ski time with his family meant more to him than his relationship with me, I proclaimed that I would never date a younger guy again – they do not take things seriously and do not have the resilience or ability to compromise that is necessary to date me. I blamed his poor behaviour on his age and not our cultural differences.

Thinking back, there has been no clear trend in the older guys I’ve dated being any more mature or well matched to me than the younger guys. The guy who emotionally abused me in our relationship was 12 years older than me. The guy two months ago who, on a second date realised half way through the museum that there was no spark thus became gloomy, read the news on his phone over tea and scones afterwards and STILL decided to follow me around town like a very grumpy shadow… was 7 years older than me. The guy who I met for a quick first date in a coffee shop round the corner but got no second date as he apparently doesn’t know how to brush his teeth was the magic age – 32.

And yet, when I met a guy who I really like, and who I’ve started seeing (early days, don’t get too excited) is younger than me by 2 years and I feel so embarrassed saying that out loud. I think he’s great – mature, driven, funny – and his age has little to do with who he is. He’s the best person I’ve met in a long time, and I can’t wait for him to prove me wrong about younger guys.

So, single ladies out there, I have a challenge for you! Try dating guys younger than you and see how it goes. Also everyone must go listen to the podcast above. Do it.

Do you date older or younger? Let me know in the comments.



  1. My guy is 1.5 years younger than me! I’ve never had a problem dating younger guys – my friends make fun of me for it even though I’ve dated about the same numbers of older and younger they like to tease I have a thing for younger dudes. Eh, 1-3 years hardly makes a difference now that I’m 31. Plenty of 33 year old dudes less mature than 29 year olds! I definitely do think close in age is the most important – I have no interest in large age gaps anymore.

    • Charlotte says:

      I’m right with you. Age doesn’t really matter, it’s just a number. We need to get more women thinking about dating younger, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.

  2. Yesss as soon as I saw the title of this, I was like oh it totally links to the why oh why I’d just listened too! It was a really good episode. I’ve been with my partner for 4 years and he is 7 years older than me. I’d never really considered it before as my boyfriends before him have all been my age or younger! I think it’s interesting now in the world of online dating that you notice age a lot more, whereas when I met him in the pub I just assumed we were the same age!!

    • Charlotte says:

      I really loved that episode! I wonder when we meet older men, how much of our attraction is linked to how old our brain thinks he is. It certainly had a lot of weight with my choices.

  3. I’ve dated both older than me *and* younger than me, in a range that skews 10-12 years in either direction. There is no one true correlation between age and rightness for you; it has nothing at all to do with the chronology and everything to do with the person you’re with.

    The one caveat here is that I’ve found that if someone isn’t within a 5-8 year range, we tend to have much less in common for conversations, and that’s kind of a drag.
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    • Ah, see I’m attracted to people I have less in common with. I almost exclusively date people from other countries or cultures. You should give the podcast a listen, I think it’d be interesting to you!

  4. Oh wow! I have almost always dated younger than me. It hasn’t been what I’ve been specifically looking for (in fact, I felt the same as you – that men emotionally mature later, so a guy 1-5 years older than me would be good so I should try to find someone like that) but it’s been what I’ve almost always ended up with. I did have a terrible crush on someone 15 years older than me once (when I was 20/21) but past boyfriends have always been less than a year to maybe 3 years younger than me. (And I did have some dates over the summer with someone about 11 years younger than me…)

    I think as long as you’re in the same general stage of life, age isn’t too important, but I still wouldn’t want to go more than 5 years older or younger. I thought my current boyfriend was finally someone older than me and I had successfully gotten an older boyfriend, but it turns out I’m one month older!! So you never know… good luck with your new relationship, mine is still super new too!

    • Oh, well, mine ended pretty quickly so it wasn’t meant to be this time! I think it’s great that you’ve mainly dated younger. We really have to bust these binds that have been created for us!

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