Does an age difference matter in love?

What difference does an age gap make when it comes to love? Are there still age-related dating taboos? From using anonymous search data from almost half a million of its members, EliteSingles reveals exactly what age differences singles look for in a match.
  • Study of 450,000 online daters reveals age of perfect partner
  • Men aged 20-29 prefer older women
  • Women’s tolerance of older men decreases with age
  • Older men after the biggest age gap, wanting women 11 years younger

The study analysed the upper and lower age search limits for more than 450,000 of its members, finding that not all men are as focused on finding a youthful partner as the stereotype suggests.

Age Gap Love Infographic

As the male curve on the graph indicates, the stereotype of the older man seeking  an increasingly younger partner does in fact ring true. Men aged 60-69 set, on average, a desired partner age of up to 11 years younger than themselves, while the oldest they would accept is someone just  1 year older.

But younger men buck the trend, with those aged up to 30 preferring to date someone older than younger. Between the ages of 20-29, many men indicate a preference for a partner 3-6 years older than themselves.

EliteSingles Partner Psychologist Sam Owen believes that ‘’the finding that men aged 20-29 prefer older women rather than the suspected “younger model” is likely indicative of the change in gender roles in modern society towards more equality between the sexes. Young men nowadays probably also recognise that older women are adept at diligently juggling so many responsibilities (career, children, housekeeping, fitness, finances, socialising), which makes them intriguing and attractive and a more secure option.’’

Women may not be so keen to play the ‘cougar’ though. The data from female users suggests that still women prefer to be the youngest in a relationship. Women aged over 50, for instance, tend to focus on finding a match who is ideally 6 years older than their own age. There is not much wiggle room in this instance: anyone more than 5 years younger is deemed too young.

Younger women echo and even amplify this interest in men older than themselves. For 20-29  year olds, the average given age difference wanted was up to 10 years, whilst women aged 30-39 can imagine a partner 8 years older. And, for women aged 20-29, a man should be no more than 1 and 3 years younger.