A good match: older women and younger men

A good match older women and younger men

Today’s women have a long history of taking good care of themselves, both physically and emotionally. As they age, these women look and feel terrific. Not surprisingly, younger men are taking notice of this new breed of vibrant older woman. The once-rare phenomenon of older women dating and marrying younger men is now on the rise.

“I can think of no reason not to be very positive about younger men and older women if that’s what each desires,” says Barnaby Barratt, Ph.D., D.H.S., director of the Midwest Institute of Sexology. “I’ve never seen any reasons clinically to discourage it. Socially, some people are still raising eyebrows, but from a sexual point of view and the emotional/sexual content of a relationship, I don’t think this is something that anyone should worry about. In fact, we should support and applaud it if this type of relationship gives both people pleasure.”

Sexual peaks

Although quick to point out that chronological age is not a good barometer of sexuality, Barratt does note that men and women occupy different positions on the sexual timeline. “Men peak somewhere in their early 20’s, in terms of the number of erections and ejaculations in a particular period. A woman, however, tends to develop her sexuality as she ages, hitting her peak just before menopause,” says Barratt. This disparity in sexual peaks makes younger men and older women an excellent match, at least physiologically.

Sexuality evolves

But sex is more than body parts. As it turns out, older women and younger men can be excellent partners on an emotional level.  “[A good sexual relationship] has nothing to do with physiology and everything to do with expectation, attitude and conflict surrounding sexual activity,” says Barratt. “For some men and women their sexuality gets better as they get older. For others, however, it tends to become more constrictive and closed down.”

For 54-year-old Nina R. and her 36-year-old partner of almost five years, an 18-year age difference has not been a sexual hindrance. “Our interest in sex is balanced. My ex-husband, who was six years older than I am, had lost interest in sex long ago. But I wasn’t ready to give up that part of my life,” says Nina. “My younger partner is a lot more sexually playful than my older ex was. I never knew sex could be so much fun!”

The kids question

Another factor that can influence the sexual disposition of a relationship between an older woman and a younger man relationship is an agreement on whether or not to have children. While some older women may be within childbearing years, others may already have children and not wish for more. Still others may be past childbearing years and experience a newfound sexual freedom concerning sex and birth control. “Because I’m postmenopausal, the fact that I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant anymore is totally liberating,” says Nina.

Measuring up

Many women have fears about how their body may appear to a younger man. “From what I hear online, one of the most common problems in older woman/younger man relationships is that women stress about aging,” says Alanna Webb, founder of two on-line age gap and relationship support groups. “They worry about sagging, wrinkles and gray hair. But the guys just see all the pluses. They aren’t nearly as critical as the women think they are. Women can be their own worst enemy by worrying about it too much,” says Webb.

“Older women are also concerned about their sex appeal,” says Diane Smith, a registered nurse and advice guide to age gap relationships for Webb’s support groups. “Older women often can’t understand how they can be sexually attractive to younger men,” says Diane. “But younger men like their experience and the fact that older women are inclined to be open about sex, have more confidence and are willing to bring more variety to sex.”

A word of caution

Some younger men seek older women primarily for sex but prefer a future with someone their own age, cautions Smith. “A woman going into a relationship with a younger man needs to know his intentions up front. If she wants love and commitment, and he wants to play, she needs to accept this or get out early,” says Smith, 43, who is married to a man 13 years younger than herself.

Smith took her own advice. “I wouldn’t marry my husband until we were engaged for over a year and he had lived with me and my kids,” says Diane. “He knew exactly what he was getting himself into.”

Ageless sexual joy

No matter how sizable the age gap, building a strong sexual relationship takes a certain amount of loosely structured dedication, and it all begins with communication, says Stan Dale, Ph.D., D.H.S., founder of the Human Awareness Institute and creator of the “Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops.”

Here are four of Dale’s suggestions to nurture your sexual relationships:

  1. Learn to love and appreciate all the aspects of your own body, no matter where you are in the aging process. “Otherwise, you’re sending the message ‘I can’t stand my body, but I want you to love and revere it’,” says Dale. “You can’t expect your partner to love your body if you don’t.
  2. Clarify your complete definition of sex. “Most people think of intercourse when asked to define sex, but intimate relations might be one of the more succinct definitions. Sex can be how a person treats another person—[preferably] with respect, understanding, compassion, reverence, and tenderness,” says Dale.
  3. Talk about sex. Find out what your partner wants, needs and finds exciting. Be open to sexual suggestions. “Taking sex out of the dark moves it to the next level,” says Dale.
  4. Make love as if you have no genitals. “The average human body is made up of 3,500 square inches of skin and that doesn’t include the mind, the heart, and the soul. But people tend to center on a very small portion called the lower genitals,” says Dale. “Holding someone, looking into their eyes, and kissing as if you really mean it can be some of the most sexual, delicious, exciting experiences that you will ever have,” says Dale.
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