One of the principle dangers for younger women looking for older men is the potential predatory male. The fact remains, even as the phenomenon of couples with large age differences becomes more common, that there are older men who prey on younger women for sexual gratification and for their own ego issues. This problem stems from many things but one researcher isolates the issue of power dominance in romantic and intimate relationships.
Dr. Athena Stalk describes what she calls “eroticized dominance” in relationships (Psychcentral). In these cases, one partner, and it is usually the male partner, exerts tremendous dominance over the other in forms that range from sexual victimization to pathological control over the other partner’s life. In extreme cases this stems from a narcissistic disorder in which an individual feels no empathy toward others. These relationships are damaging to everyone concerned and can even be lethal. These are the most extreme cases and younger women who may be specifically looking for older men should be aware of these kinds of issues. They are definitely a minority, but they are real.
Some even argue that men who seek younger women are largely driven by the forms of eroticized dominance described above. However, another study tempers this belief at least to some degree with the theory that men who seek younger women as romantic partners are driven more by a biological drive in which men naturally seek intimate partners who are at the reproductive peek, that there is an “innate biological desire men hold for women in their most fertile years” (Catiglia). This theory would have us believe that older men who are specifically interested in younger women are simply following a biological drive that exceeds any cultural and social norms with respect to age norms and relationships. While the issue of dominance over women remains a real problem, given this study this dominance is clearly revealed to be a psychological problem and not an inevitable problem that drives men to choose younger women as partners.
The issue of nature versus nurture is an old one and ultimately culture seems to be the operative force when it comes to most if not all of human behavior. Another study from Finland seems to complicate any all-encompassing theory that would account for why some men are primarily interested in younger women. These researchers found that while the obvious tendency for men to prefer younger women as the men age was indeed prevalent, many men actually preferred to stay within their own age group when choosing sexual and romantic partners. They basically found that “as he grows older, he will be more interested in younger women. But not exclusively. He will also be interested in women his own age or older” (Science Nordic). More than anything, this study just complicates the issue enough to suggest that any simple theory as to why some older men prefer younger women is just not going to account for the complexity of real human behavior. The bottom line here is that people do what they do for many reasons; dominance and power relations and biological drives are just a few of the myriad factors that drive human behavior.
A quick search of age gap dating sites can reveal some disturbing features. There are in fact dating sites geared toward predatory men. But overall, these remain a small part of the picture and any discerning man can screen through these things. Most older men, it would seem from the research, are motivated to be with younger women simply because they want love and companionship and they find this more readily in younger women than in women their own age.
Castiglia, Carolyn. “Older Men, Younger Women: Gross, Natural, Something In-between.”
Jacobsen, Siw Ellen. “Older Men are not just Attracted to Young Women.” Science Nordic. Feb.
Stalk, Athena. “Eroticized Dominance: Emotional Grooming, Predatory Behaviors as Natural Norms?” PsychCentral. 2017.