A man who knows older men dating younger women is a gender norm, smiling with his younger girlfriend on the beach.

The phenomenon of older men dating younger women is nothing new. According to a 2014 Current Population Survey, the average age difference in heterosexual couples is 2.3 years, with the man being older than the woman. But recent data has shown that as our ideas about men, women, and relationships evolve daters’ views on age are changing as well.

The online dating site and app Zoosk found that in 2017, online daters were 9% more likely to like, message, or have a conversation with someone who was ten years older or younger than them than they were in 2016. That’s a pretty big age difference when you think about it. And a big change to see in attitudes in just one year.

To learn more about how age effects attraction, they took a deeper dive into the data from their over 40 million members to see what other trends they could find. As it turns out, even though overall attitudes about age are shifting somewhat,  traditional gender dynamics of older men dating younger women and vise versa still dominated the dating scene.

Here are a few interesting takeaways:

60% of men are attracted to younger women. 
And of that 60%, the vast majority (51%) like women who are 1 to 4 years younger than them, 27% like women who are 5 to 9 years younger than them, and 22% like women who are more than 10 years younger than them. That means 13% of all men dating online are looking for women who are more than 10 years younger than they are.

27% of men are attracted to older women.
However, unlike men who are attracted to younger women, men who show interest in older women don’t stray too far outside their age range. All of the men in that 27% prefer to date women who are only 1 to 4 years older.

13% of men prefer women their same age.
Give or take a few months, a large number of men show attraction towards women who are their same age.

It’s not just the guys who are conforming to social norms.
When looking into women’s behavior on the site, the numbers of women who like older men almost mirrored that of men who like  younger women. 56% of younger women prefer dating older men. And of that 56%, the majority (56%) like men who are 1 to 4 years older than them. 30% like men who are 5 to 9 years older than them, and 14% like men who are more than 10 years older than them.

Typically, men match with women between 1 to 3 years younger.
Though men are often attracted to women up to 10 years younger than them, the women they match with (AKA, the women who like them back) tend to be only 1 to 3 years younger.

The older men get, the younger the women they match with are.
It could be that differences in age matter less as we get older, but the older men get the younger the women they match with are. Men in their 20s tend to match with women almost their same age while men in their 50s usually match with women who are three years younger. In addition, you can see the numbers increase as men get older.

Ages of Women Men Match With While Online Dating

  • Men in their 50s typically match with women who are 3 years younger.
  • Men in their 40s typically match with women who are 2 years years younger.
  • Men in their 30s typically match with women who are 1.5 years younger.
  • Men in their 20s typically match with women who are half a year younger.

When it comes to messaging, men who like older woman have a slight advantage. 
Men who message older women are more likely to get a response than those who message younger woman, but it’s only a slight 2% increase. Men who message women their own age also see a 2% increase in their replies.

And men who message women 10+ years younger have a slight disadvantage.
In general, men who message women younger than them have an average reply rate. However, men who message women who are 10+ years younger have a reply rate that’s 3% below the average.

So what do we do with all this information? (Other than think to ourselves, Huh, that’s interesting.) Well, for starters, just keep it in mind. There are a lot of reasons why men typically like dating younger women, and maybe you’re one of those men.  That’s great. And maybe you’re not. That’s great too. Being aware of who you’re attracted to and why can help you find the person who’s right for you.

However, if you notice that you’re attracted to a certain age-group and it hasn’t been working out for you, think about that older or younger person you may not have considered before. It may be time to mix it up a bit and see if something, and someone, new will work out for you.