I am attracted to older women

Dear Dr. Milrod:

I have a thing for more mature women. Not 50 years old but like around 25 to 35ish. Now I am 22 and mature for my age. All women I’ve ever been with have all been older than me.  To me, it seems like mature women know how to treat a guy well, at least compared to girlfriends I’ve had who have been my age or even a year younger and just not mature yet. I really want to know if society is “cool” with younger guys being with older women?  You always see older men with younger women, so what would be wrong with a young guy with an older woman? Would it be weird to bring an older woman home to meet the family? How would I make myself stand out to a woman who is more or less 3-5 years older than I am?

Josh, 22

Dear Josh, 22:

The answers to your questions depend on whom you ask. Some people would definitely feel that it’s “wrong,” while others would understand it perfectly. In addition, “older” is certainly in the eyes of the beholder. Someone 25 is 3 years older than you – hardly defined as “older” other than strictly chronologically. Now 35 on the other hand – that’s 13 years and yes, that would be considered “older” on many levels, including maturity and experience. But is it wrong?

For whatever it’s worth, it’s your preference, just like some people prefer blondes to brunettes, or vice versa. If you present yourself like a mature individual, it would make sense to most, although again, it really depends on the woman you’re dating. Some 35-year-olds look and act like they’re in their 20s, and some girls in their early 20s can appear quite a bit older, for various reasons.  Lifestyle, genetics and temperament all play parts in how a person is perceived in terms of age.
I suppose if you look like Little Lord Fauntleroy and your “older” girlfriend looks like Cruella de Vil, then yes, you will get looks because the age difference will be obvious. In everyday life, however, not many people will notice, because women and men dress more gender-neutral than ever before. You and your girlfriend in jeans and T-shirts – no one will really pay attention. Now, would it be “weird to bring an older woman home to meet the family?” Depends on her age and depends on the family. Is “society cool” with younger guys being with older women? Again, it depends on where you hang out and with whom. In urban, politically liberal circles, other issues are more important than a slight or even moderate age difference skewed toward older female-younger male. If you’re bright, ambitious and outgoing, that’s what people will see and hence understand that you prefer someone more emotionally mature than the stereotype of a post-adolescent young woman. In a religious or traditional environment, even a difference of a few years can be seen as odd or even undesirable. Bottom line, it all comes down to individual differences. As to how to make yourself “stand out” among women who are 3-5 years older – don’t act your age, of course !

Christine Milrod, Ph.D.

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