Today I got a question from a reporter curious about my perspective on men dating women the same age as them. She was specifically asking me what the benefits are — and believe it or not they do exist — but I’m not one to gloss over context.

Here’s the bulk of what I sent her:

“Age is a complicated issue. Since a man’s biological attractiveness has so much to do with status, men are often less attractive to women when they’re younger and tend to peak as they’re older. You can make a strong case that from a sexual-selection standpoint a man’s prime (assuming he’s not a bum, in which he had no prime) is 28-38. Women’s biological attractiveness on the other hand is much more judged on looks, so for them that range might be more like 18-28. This means that from a purely biological perspective, a man and woman’s “sexual marketplace values” are a full decade apart, leading one to infer that the best marriages have the man around a decade older than the woman.

There’s something to be said for that, but attraction is of course more than just biological — otherwise there’d be a lot more couples with that age difference. Psychology matters, and the fact is people with a decade of age difference are rarely in the same place — both in life, and in maturity. I firmly believe based on my professional experience as a coach that you are attracted to people with the same amount of psychological “damage” (or development, if you prefer) as you. Biological attraction may act as a filter for this, but it’s that feeling that the two of you “click” — that the other complements you in some way — that makes the final judgment.

So to answer your question, yes, there ARE benefits for men dating women their own age. Accelerated personal development is the biggest: you have the most to gain psychologically from dating someone your own age since you are both in the same place, and will push each other’s boundaries equally. Growing old together, as you said, is also a big one, and I think that is a prime consideration especially in late-middle age.

But nothing brings people together more than going through life together from the beginning — these marriages tend to be the strongest and deepest in the end. The tradeoff is that the journey is harder, and many don’t make it: in our instant gratification culture, it’s tough for people to think about the long-term and stay together when one party is more sexually appealing than the other.

For instance, I see many girls break up with their boyfriends after college because they’re in the big city and some older, high-status guy catches their eye. Similarly, I see guys in their 30s unwilling to commit to women their age because they have a lot of younger options. Dating people the same age as you simply requires some sacrifice of “biological attraction;” for her early, for him later. The question is if people these days are mature enough to do it and to still come out the other side.

For what it’s worth, my wife and I are the same age and we have a very happy marriage. But it’s taken a lot of awareness and maturity to work. Mostly what I see in NYC is dissatisfaction and dysfunction — women don’t actually seem to want guys their age until those guys are able to date women younger than them. That makes it a complicated proposition for the late 20s / early 30-something year old guys, who are just starting to get bombarded with options (not to mention: women in their 30s are also usually watching their “clock,” which adds unwanted pressure on the guys that the younger women don’t give).

I think same-age relationships have a lot to offer but they seem to need to start by ~ age 25, or above ~ age 45 to be successful. In that middle range the different relative “biological attractiveness” of both parties seems to mess things up.

Of course, there are exceptions, but these are my general observations.”

Psychology and Biology are often at odds. Some people are led more by one than the other.

Best you can do is try to balance out both as much as possible.

And if you want help making that decision, and making that relationship incredible?

Apply to work with me here:

– Pat

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