A 43-year-old female friend of mine got divorced recently, so I met up with her for a sympathy drink. (It was really more of a “congrats” drink; her ex was a real piece of work.)
After she relayed the gory details of the final few years before she filed for divorce, I asked her one thing: “So, how are things in the aftermath, staying amicable?” They had two kids together, and staying on reasonably respectful terms with your ex is crucial when co-parenting from two different homes.
She breathed a heavy sigh, and then said, “Sure, except I can’t believe he’s already dating someone new, just a month after the papers were signed.” I rolled my eyes, too. Guy probably hadn’t even begun to fix those parts of him that caused the divorce in the first place.
But then she whipped out her phone to show me a photo of them, saying: “And get this—she’s only 26. I mean, how can a woman like me compete with that?”
And I saw the story she was telling in her head: “I’m over the hill, so men won’t want me anymore if they can have someone much younger.”
To begin my rebuttal, my friend is an absolute knockout. She turns heads everywhere she goes. I assured her she’s not at any “visual” disadvantage to some 26-year-old.
But the larger point I relayed is: that’s not why most men date younger women.
It ain’t about looks.
(Well, sure, for some it is.)
But for many men, it’s about something else.
There’s another thing entirely that older men get from dating younger women.
And a lot of men aren’t even aware what that “something else” is.
But I see it constantly. And hell, I’ve even fallen for it myself when I’ve dated someone much younger than me. There was something else I was getting out of it. And it was definitely still something shallow.
And here’s what older men love about dating younger women: younger women are much more easily impressed.
That’s the secret.
Because men love to be admired. It’s the greatest drug there is for us.
And a younger woman is much more impressed with an older man than a woman his age is.
Younger women fawn over that man’s achievements. They marvel at his career (or more specifically, his money). Their eyes widen when he shows up in a tailored suit. They feel like they’ve gotten VIP access when they walk into his luxurious, well-appointed home or downtown loft. They stand in awe of his three New York City Marathon bib numbers hung on the wall.
And to be clear, I’m not knocking younger women for these reactions. This is not judgment. In fact, I completely understand it.
Because these older men possess qualities that none of the men that younger woman’s age possesses. One female friend of mine who’s 27 put it to me this way about why she actually prefers dating older men: “Why would I want to date a guy my age? He’s probably got three roommates, his apartment is a sh*t-hole with furniture he found on the street, he dresses like a frat boy, he doesn’t own a suit, he doesn’t know his way around a wine menu, he can’t swing dance at a wedding, he never buys me flowers. An older guy does all those things. He’s thoughtful, he’s put together–a “real man,” she added.
But the result is that an older man is getting an unfair advantage.
Because you know what the other side of this coin is? She also can’t see through his bullsh*t.
Yep, I said it; an older man can con a younger woman with much less detection.
She’s so busy being awestruck by the shiny exterior of their pairing that she may not pick up on the fact that he’s actually dating other women on the side. Or that he’s subtly insulting her intelligence by countermanding her viewpoints at dinner. Or gaslighting her when she suspects he’s flirting with someone else, but he says, “It’s just your imagination.” Or the evening’s conversation is just much more about his ambitions and activities than hers.
Because unfortunately, a younger woman—a younger anyone—doesn’t have the hard-earned tools of detecting bullsh*t the way a seasoned 43-year-old woman (person) would.
And that’s why older men often don’t want to date older women; an older woman can see through them much more quickly. She’ll call him out on his shIt. She can spot manipulative behavior, or a lack of complete honesty. She can spot passive-aggressiveness. She won’t tolerate being ghosted. And she’s not as impressed with his new BMW 5-series as a 26-year-old is. She’s learned that money doesn’t always bring happiness, and that often the people who acquire it did so by being ruthlessly selfish or corrupt.
So I said all this to my 43-year-old friend, and she replied, “Ohhhhh. So it’s still kinda pathetic, but just in a different way.” Exactly.
Now, sure, I’m generalizing here, and each of us probably knows a couple with a huge age difference who are genuinely a good match and have found happiness. I do concede it “can” work. But if you’re on the “older” side of 30, and upset that a guy your age is dating someone much younger, don’t be angry. Feel sorry for him. He’s just protecting his fragile ego from any criticism. And I say this as a guy who’s been guilty of it myself. But any guy who’s a true adult will welcome a partner who’s evolved enough to call out their flaws. And he’ll appreciate it. Because any truly evolved man knows we’re all works in progress, and the true goal is to find someone who’ll help you become your best you.
And a 26-year-old? Well, she’s just there to help prop them full of hot air.
It’s all about the validation hit. She’s giving him the adulation that maybe the rest of the world has deprived him of for far too long–whether from his parents, from work, from his ex-wife, or from the universe in general. An older man’s attraction to a younger woman has way less to do with her looks than how she looks at him.
But the guy you really want to date isn’t looking for an ego boost. He’s looking for a partner. Someone who helps them be their best selves. And that guy knows that that means a partner who’s gonna poke a finger in your chest once in a while.
The right guy will find that the most attractive quality of all.