A middle-age or older man pairing with a younger woman, from this viewpoint, ensures that he will have continue to have offspring at older ages than would be possible with a peer who is past childbearing age.
There are some assumptions within this framework — for example, that people behave in ways that are intended to guarantee the future of the species rather than in response to sociocultural influences.
Testing their predictions on a sample of 173 women, all involved in a romantic relationship, the study's authors compared those in AGRs (with a nine-year or larger age difference) vs. The AGR women ranged from 18 to 53 years old, with partners, on average, 17.3 years older than themselves.
Using standard questionnaire measures, the research team asked all participants to rate their attachment styles as well as their relationship satisfaction.
However, if we accept the findings, the Skentelbery and Fowler study suggests that the younger woman-older man relationship has unique psychological qualities, at least on the measures used.
Relationship fulfillment depends on a host of factors, but according to this study, the age gap alone is not sufficient to predict who will be happiest with whom.
Feel free to join my Facebook group, "Fulfillment at Any Age," to discuss today's blog, or to ask further questions about this posting. I'm sure they don't represent all women, but I know several single women in their 30's who are dating older men.
The sociocultural perspective for understanding the pairing of older men and younger women explains not just that younger women seem physically more attractive to aging males, but that the older man represents socially valued attributes that lead his younger partner to to bond with him.
An age difference of up to 10 years is generally not looked at askance by anyone who knows how old each partner is, but as that gap gets closer to 20, things start to look a bit more off balance.
Once a man is literally old enough to be a woman’s father (or vice versa, for older women), public opinion starts to shift from acceptance to skepticism. Mary’s University’s (Halifax) Sara Skentelbery and Darren Fowler examined the phenomenon of “age gap relationships” (AGRs) from an evolutionary perspective, noting that such pairings have benefits in terms of species survival.
As a control to self-report bias, Skentelbery and Fowler also asked participants to complete a measure of “social desirability,” or the tendency to exaggerate one’s positive attributes on a questionnaire (e.g.
“I never make a long trip without checking the safety of my car”).