When a young woman is romantically involved with an older man, one might assume he’s her “sugar daddy,” or that one or both are getting something out of the relationship other than love. We make those assumptions because we equate age with power or money, but that’s not often the reason for a May-December relationship.
“Younger women prefer to date older men for many reasons,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer. “The truth of the matter is that older men come with maturity, grace and dignity. They value their younger mates and treat them with more respect.” And this, of couse, is appealing to young women who have grown tired of the narcissistic adolescence frequently found in younger men.
In addition, older men typically possess more confidence. They’ve reached the age where they place a high value on things like love and family, and are generally more focused on things that truly matter.
“This maturity is not tied to financial success — it comes from simply being at a secure place in their lives from having lived in the world longer,” adds Hokemeyer.
There’s also a biological aspect. Women are very intuitive: They know what they value, what they need, and are typically gifted at obtaining these things.
“A younger woman who is mature for her age may want children, so biologically, it makes sense to go after a man who has the means and resources to provide for her and for those children,” says Dr. Cooper Lawrence, a psychologist and the host of “Girls in Heels.”
The relationship that a young woman had with her father, while growing up, could also impact her relationship choices later in life. And yes, it’s sometimes true that a woman who didn’t get the love and support she craved from her father will instead seek it out from a mate, but only sometimes.
“Father absence, due to death or divorce, in early adolescence can contribute to certain behavioral problems, but the cliché that young girls seek a father figure when they date older men has more to do with them mirroring their mother’s behavior than replacing the father they lost,” says Lawrence.
“Some women feel that their fathers were exceptional and provided them with everything they needed,” adds Hokemeyer. “Therefore, they seek out mates who share the very qualities they valued in their fathers.”
Whatever reason a woman has for choosing an older man, the most important thing is that she’s happy. For both sexes, knowing what you want in a relationship (and sorting out how to get it) is generally a sign of success, and an indicator of emotional health.