Dating & Relationships, Gender

Do We Want Partners Who Are Older Or Younger Than Us? Here’s What The Research Says

October 4, 2017 by Justin Lehmiller


Study after study has found that men and women have different age preferences when it comes to choosing both sexual and romantic partners. On average, men seem to prefer partners who are a bit younger while women seem to prefer partners who are a bit older than they are (of course, there’s individual variability when it comes to what people want and not all men and women share these preferences). Evolutionary psychologists argue that it’s adaptive for most heterosexual men to have a preference for younger women because they’re likely to be more fertile; by contrast, they argue that it’s adaptive for most women to have a preference for older men, who are likely to have more status and resources. If that’s the case, though, then what happens when reproductive concerns are removed from the equation, such as in the case of same-sex relationships?

A recent study published in the journal Personal Relationships offers insight into how romantic partner age preferences differ based on both gender and sexual orientation. The results largely replicated previous studies with respect to the age differences preferred by heterosexual men and women; however, the data for gay men and lesbians didn’t quite follow this same pattern. For a look at some of the key findings from this research, check out the infographic below.

To learn more about romantic and sexual partner age preferences, check out this article, which offers insight into how these preferences change as we get older, as well as information on bisexual persons’ age preferences.


For other infographics about sex, click here.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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