Older people find younger people attractive
Age difference: About the constellation of old man and young woman
Surely everyone has someone in their circle of friends who has a much younger woman by their side. He's 48 there, she's just 26, or he's just cracking 50, but snatches a 30-year-old. A phenomenon that annoys me personally. Because if you look how it looks the other way around, namely when a woman has a younger man by her side, there are often stupid comments. And if not stupid comments, at least it's always worth mentioning.
Take the French President Emmanuel Macron with his much older partner Brigitte Trogneux. The two are separated by 25 years. Here, the age difference was and is discussed again and again, as if it were something different than when a man has a much younger partner, such as former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who has a 48-year-old girlfriend at 73.
What is the reason for this unequal assessment of women and men? The fact is: in our society everything is perceived as disturbing that deviates from the norm. Humans are creatures of habit and prefer to stick to things that are familiar to them. And here the picture of the older man with the younger woman is unfortunately quite common. Better known and more familiar at least than the reverse picture.
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The facts and figures
The numbers speak for themselves: there are far more men with younger women than the other way around. According to the latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office, the man is older in 73 percent of the partnerships. Only 17 percent are women who are older.
Nevertheless, it must be said that only six percent of couples are separated by an age difference of more than ten years. Couples like Emanuelle Macron and his partner remain the exception - regardless of the constellation. If the age difference between the two is large, the social environment is also irritated.
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The three magical years
Usually you look for a partner of about the same age with a range of plus or minus three years. According to statistics, a German man is on average 2.9 years older than his wife at his first wedding. In 2019, the age difference was around 44 percent of couples between one and just under four years. In the case of married couples, it was as much as 47 percent in this age range.
And this age gap between older men and younger partners can be observed across borders and has existed for centuries. Although our society is actually so much more tolerant and progressive than it used to be, it seems that little has changed in this regard.
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Holding on to the familiar
Stephanie Bethmann, sociologist at the University of Freiburg, also found in her studies that we are still orienting ourselves towards conventional patterns despite all the social changes. Although social constraints have long since ceased to exist, we are still guided by very classic patterns when choosing a partner. Women with a younger man remain the exception and an extremely large difference between a couple is avoided if possible.
There is also an interesting study by FriendScout24, for which 20,000 people were asked how old their dream partner should be. Lo and behold: the women wanted a man 2.9 years older, men would rather have a partner 6.2 years younger. And the older men get, the younger the partner of choice should be. For men over 60, women who are more than ten years younger are desired.
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Old vs. young: who benefits from whom here?
Of course you ask yourself: What should induce a young woman in her mid-20s to look for a partner who is significantly older, e.g. in her mid-40s? Because between 20 and 25, the number of men of the same age who are single is actually quite passable and significantly larger than later in the 40s. So it can't be because of that.
The 45-year-old, who is on the lookout for a younger partner, is different: he knows that the choice is limited in his age group and that many women of the same age are in steady relationships or already have children from another man. So his behavior can be explained. Especially since a man doesn't have to feel in a hurry to start a family even at the age of 30 due to the differently ticking biological clock. He has a lot longer time to think about it. If a man is in his late 40s and still has a desire to have children, he can start all over again with a younger partner.
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In the video: Where can you find love?Video by Aischa Butt
And it is blatantly unjust that this does not apply to women. A woman cannot wait forever to want to have children. This alone results in couples with an age difference. Albeit to the detriment of women who, in terms of age, cannot always orientate themselves downwards if the potential partners are absent at their age. At least when starting a family, it is no longer enough from around mid-40s. Younger men who want to have children are therefore no longer possible partners. The result: As a woman, you orient yourself upwards in terms of age.
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When the age difference causes problems
But the age difference has its limits. If it is too big, there are often problems in the relationship. Because if a woman gets to know a 40-year-old at the age of 20, it may be that they still think similarly and have a similar lifestyle. But what if she is 45 and he is 65? Then the whole thing looks a lot different. She is in the middle of her professional life, he may be retired.
But the older partner also has an advantage for the younger woman. With a man over 35 or 40, you can predict where he will go. How is he professionally positioned, is he reliable and ready to commit himself in the long term, can he provide for a family, financially and personally?
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Life extending partner
For the man, the constellation with a younger person is also worthwhile in other ways: Men with younger partners live longer, after all, they are cherished and cared for by a young, healthy woman, have to stay active and sex is also known to be healthy. The younger the partner, the more positive this has on the man's life expectancy. This was the result of a study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.
And once again we women are losing out: the other way round it looks completely different. Women with an older partner tend to live shorter lives. And even a younger partner does not have a life-prolonging effect, as one might think. In fact, a woman lives the longest with a man of the same age.
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In the end, women don't really benefit from taking an older partner. It costs us our life, we may have to look after it and we may be widowed earlier than with a young fellow by our side. So we should rethink our 3-year-older prey scheme, which is actually good for us.
And it is to be hoped that the different ways men and women are perceived will slowly change. Just how often, for example, Heidi Klum was emphasized 16 years more to her husband Tom Kaulitz. It sucks. It is not acceptable that women with a younger partner are ridiculed while men are congratulated on their young partner.
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