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Attractive older women – A new threat to relationships

Ladies! If you are tired of men who drag their feet when it comes to commitment, you may not be thrilled to learn of yet another reason why eligible men may choose to remain single even longer. I refer to a new class of attractive, foxy and readily available older women capable of competing for an already scarce resource; eligible young men.

Who are these women? And where do they come from?

These are women who were discouraged by what they considered unacceptable choices for a lifetime mate and refused to settle for second best, Instead they chose to remain single and invest in their own development and careers. Now with age, they have acquired a level of independence, wisdom, perhaps financial security and self confidence.

Then there are those who remained in unsatisfying marriages for the sake of convenience; furthering careers or raising children, and are now divorced. Many of these women have decided that age will not prevent them from enjoying satisfying lives. And thanks to the numerous varieties of beauty products and healthcare treatments available today, some of these women are presenting stiff competition to some younger women in the market for romantic partners. Some men on the dating scene admit it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine the true age of these foxy ladies.

Why younger women may need to worry.

Older women- younger men unions are not new, but social disapproval of this phenomenon has kept these relationships in the closet for decades. But the recent media coverage being lavished on celebrities involved in such relationships is a clear indication that people may be warming up to this trend. The recent hookup between actress Demi Moore 40, and Ashton Kutcher 25, featured on the Tonight Show, in People's Magazine and elsewhere caused unusual commotion even though it was not a first. Hollywood has already seen role models who have stood the test of time; Madonna 44 married to Guy Ritchie 10 years her junior and Joan Collins who is 33 years older than her husband, to name a couple. And although reliable figures are not yet available, trend trackers like Tina Tessina PhD, a California marriage and family therapist, and author of 11 books, believe this trend is here to stay, both inside and outside of Hollywood. If this is true, young women may be forced to wait even longer for men to make up their minds about settling down in a relationship.

It's a known fact that even as boys, most men were attracted to older women. It's just a man's thing especially at younger ages, principal reason, anticipation of great sex because they perceive older women as more experienced sexually. It is therefore not too difficult to understand why men, most of who constantly complain about not getting enough sex in their relationships, would welcome the availability of attractive older women. And this is by no means a matter of only sowing wild oats; it goes deeper than that.

Men prefer attractive women regardless of age

Men's criteria for choosing a mate have always been based on her biological ability to produce offspring; younger healthier women are likely to produce more children. Recent information however suggests men's choices may have evolved to a higher level of sophistication. According to Dr George Fieldman of Chilterns University College in England, men consider attractiveness more important than age in their selection of a mate. In his study 200 men average age 30, were asked to select a partner for a long term relationship from a number of photos. In every case the men chose the older attractive women over the younger plainer ones even though they were told that the women were between the ages of 36 to 45.

Fieldman concluded men choose attractive older women knowing fully well that they are likely to produce fewer babies but the babies will be more attractive. Men base their choices on their belief that beautiful offspring stand a better chance of success than less attractive ones. This clearly shows men may be prepared to take their chances on an older woman's ability to reproduce; another round in favor of older women

Why won't men commit

A widespread commentary in today's dating culture is men are reluctant to commit to formal relationships, ask any single woman. And for those of you who don't believe this to be true, the findings of a Rutgers University think tank says it's official. The 2002 report published by the National Marriage Project confirms a popularly held belief that men are just not in a hurry to get to the altar. Yes, more than any other time in history, men are delaying marriage until later in life; the average age of marriage for men is 27, the highest ever in the USA. Why? The number one reason is the availability of sex; one of the fundamental privileges of marriages without its corresponding responsibilities. This is why more than 50 percent of first marriages in North America are preceded by couples living together, according to David Popenoe co-director of the project.

Just as significant however are some of the other reasons men gave for not tying the knot: Fear of divorce and its financial risks, they want to wait until they are older to have children; they fear that marrying will require too many compromises. They want to enjoy life as long as they can.

Enjoy life; does this mean that life's enjoyment stops after marriage? And are these new objections to marriage, or are these concerns long suppressed and are only now being openly discussed. Which ever is true, one thing is certain; such apprehensions about marriage will have serious social implications for the future.

Enters the older woman

This vulnerability that exists in our system of marriage provides a natural opening for significant social change. It's already happening. The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data show that in the year 2000, 12 percent of all marriages recorded were between older women and younger men. Also, a 2001 Statistic Canada report shows that 13 percent of women are marrying younger men. And what's in it for the young men?

Here's some of what they get.

1. A woman who knows what she wants, and does not have to make selections based on the man's ability to financially support her. This eases the pressure on the man and gives him freedom to pursue his dreams whatever they might be.

2. An emotionally stable partner - instead of a younger one who may not be sufficiently mature enough to find herself. Her criteria make keep changing and inevitably she blames the man for her unhappiness. As one man puts it, "I try to keep away from women who see me as responsible for their total happiness."

3. Great sex. Studies show that the full power of the sexuality of a woman emerges usually after her child-bearing age. So a man can get plenty of what he wants most from a relationship.

4. Intellectual stimulation. Older women depending on where they've been and what they've done may be worldly, knowledgeable and confident, and perhaps motivated by their personal need for mental stimulation. Such women can hold a man's interest and challenge his intellect. This is not to say younger women are less knowledgeable or less intelligent, but unlike older women their primary focus may be on different matters, such as starting a family which may not be the number one priority for the man.

How durable are these relationships?

Fortunately for our society, many older women are savvy enough not to hold their breath with the expectation of a life long relationship with a much younger man. Most of the ones I spoke with said they take life one day at a time. Most likely there will come a time when the man may want to start his own family. He may then focus his attention on women closer to his age. Why? Because even though men instinctively select older women cognizant of their possible reproduction limitations, their conscious decisions may differ because of pressures from society.

It is my view most people even some rebels eventually conform to social pressures. Even the man's decision to marry may be a form of social compromise. Imagine the reaction of family and perhaps friends if he married the older woman. Think of the harrowing effect this could have on the poor guy's life when all he wants is to have a family with children who can enjoy life with their aunts, uncles and grandparents. We still have a long way to go before some behavioral practices will be universally accepted.

Then there is also the concern that as the man gets older and the age gap between the couple closes, he is likely to outgrow the fascination of and older woman; the same fascination which attracted him to the relationship in the first place.

Of course, depending on the couple the relationship may last anywhere from three to six years, or may be stretched out over a longer period. Are young women expected to sit by twiddling their thumbs while waiting for these relationships to end?

And what if the younger man grows accustomed to the comforts and benefits of life with an older and more experienced woman? Even worse, what if he should loose altogether the incentive to marry and start a family of his own?

Whichever road the man chooses, it's still bad news for both younger women and men. If and when a man emerges from a prolonged relationship of convenience, he may bring with him expectations which a younger less experienced woman may find difficult to fulfill.

So here's the kicker. If after experimentation a man is convinced he is getting exactly what he wants from a relationship would he be more likely to commit to that relationship or would he seek others?

When you come right down to it, compatibility is what makes relationships work regardless of age differences.

We welcome your comments:

Do you believe this development could seriously affect the future of relationships?

How will it affect. (a.) Men. (b.) Women

Send comments to:
Peter Hector is the author of the book Love is No Guarantee.
Visit his website and find out what you need to know before you fall inlove.
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©2003

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