Do Men Really Want Younger Women? Here's What Science Has to Say.
The research into our porn habits has something to say on age gaps and sexual relationships
Age gaps have always been fodder for controversy. For as long as I can remember, having an age gap has been met with skepticism and disapproval. I remember back in the nineties when Playboy Magazine’s 1993 Playgirl of the Year, Anna Nicole Smith, married the oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, everyone theorized she was a busty blonde who’d fallen in love with the money and not the man.
She was 26. He was 89.
The look on her face says it all.
While their case may be the extreme example, our culture is replete with couples with a wide age gap, usually with the men being markedly older than the women.
Beyoncé is 40 and Jay-Z is 52. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is 33 and her husband, actor Jason Statham, is 53. Bruce Willis is 66 and his wife Emma Hemming is 42. Don McLean, the singer of the hit classic “American Pie,” is 75, and he’s dating a 27-year-old model, Paris Dylan.
That’s a 48-year age gap, my friends.
I could go on, but you get the point. Everywhere we turn, we see examples of this in the media — older men dating women who could be their daughters (or granddaughters).
Popular culture has erected a story around this phenomenon that says that men prefer younger women for reasons hardwired into our biology. Proponents of this shallow reading of evolutionary psychology will tell you a familiar tale.
It’s what I call “the standard model,” and it goes something like this…
Men naturally want younger women who are fertile, while women want older men who are stable and can provide resources for their offspring, and the entire goal of this little song-and-dance between the sexes is the proliferation of their genes which are passed down to their children which will be more likely to survive and reproduce themselves.
Sounds plausible enough, right?
But is it true?
I know I’ve seen enough of guys telling women that their value plummets after they hit their thirties and forties, so it’s time to set the record straight.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
In 2012, two researchers analyzed the data from a billion different web searches in pursuit of discovering what really makes us tick beneath the surface. They wanted to find out what we want when no one is looking. As you could probably guess, our browser search history turned out to be a gold mine for researchers who want to understand human psychology.
They gathered the data, teased through it, and assembled their findings in a book called A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships. In the book, they go on to explain what people searched the most for when they searched for pornographic content.
Now, I bet you assume that the most popular searches were either visual descriptions or physical activities — stuff like big breasts, shaved body parts, thin waists, and bubbly butts; or stuff like oral and anal sex.
But that’s not what the researchers found. The most common search had to do with age. One in every six searches for sexual material had to do with age, back in 2012.
But not just any old age will do. We all know that the 75%-male consumer base who dominate the world of pornography consumption are searching for young women, typically teenagers, as young as they can get legally, right? This is what the standard model tells us.
But it’s only partly true.