Not that I'm complaining, mind you...
September 30, 2012 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Over the past year, I've notice that I've been approached almost exclusively by noticeably younger guys. What's up with that?

Female, 27, bi, cisgender here. For maybe the past 10-12 months, any time I'm approached/flirted with/asked out by a guy, it seems that the man in question is in the 17-22 age bracket. This has never really happened before - normally there's a decent amount of variety in the ages of guys who show an interest in me, if anything, leaning older. I don't know what the reason may be or whether it's not just a series of random occurrences. Have I unconsciously crossed some sort of magical "older woman" rubicon, taking me off the radar of the older dudes and making me somehow more interesting to these younger folks? They are generally attractive and confident, so I am absolutely not dissing this new trend in my life - just trying to understand it. There have been no major changes in my appearance, style or social environment - so what reasons could there be?
posted by gohabsgo to Human Relations (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by J. Wilson at 7:54 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think we're at a cultural moment where there's a fetishization of the "older woman." I look (honest to god) about 6 years younger than I am on a good day; how I'm approached by younger men is totally different depending on whether they know my numerical age or whether they think I'm roughly the same age as they are. There's more of an implication that I'll be some sort of sexual libertine with no boring strings attached when men know I'm older than they are (even by just a few years--dude, the difference between 30 and 35 is not cougartown, but it feeds a fantasy). At 27, you're now that mythical "older woman."
posted by availablelight at 7:58 PM on September 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

Do you live in a college town? Perhaps you're experiencing an influx of college-age guys that are messing with the probabilities of ages of guys that approach you?
posted by bleep at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I live in a town that people tend to leave after high school or shortly thereafter. Many return years later when they want to settle down. Youth retention has been improving somewhat over the past 5 years or so.
posted by gohabsgo at 8:15 PM on September 30, 2012

At least one male respondent (me) had no such tendency, or preference, when he was 17-22. "milfs" may get some publicity these days, but so do furries; they're both still fringe.

You're right though: if it's not chance, it's pretty interesting.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 8:21 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am in my early thirties and tend to attract younger guys too. I live in large metropolitan area. I think is a combination of chance and they think I am more mature and confident that younger girls.

Also I think that even though I do not consciously realize it, I am more likely to be interested in the younger guys and somehow subliminally send more signals that I am interested in them than I send to older guys, which reinforces their interest in me.
posted by seesom at 8:32 PM on September 30, 2012

I'm in my mid thirties and this has been happening to my friends and I for a few years, the older the woman the younger the guys! Most of my single friends are attractive, fit and look younger than they are but I'm pretty sure the guys know their ages and are not mistaking them for hot young things. They are approaching them because they want casual sex with an attractive woman and a woman their own age is far more likely to be looking for a boyfriend. My friends that do date much younger men do it knowing its not going to be long term.
posted by fshgrl at 8:43 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you have the same style/appearance as a celebrity or musician who has become more popular of late?
posted by rhizome at 8:46 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

That happened to me in my early thirties, Now that I'm 40, no one older, younger or in-between hits on me EVER, so enjoy it while it lasts.
posted by webwench at 8:50 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Back when I was in my early twenties, my now-former roommate explained to me his theory that women at the age of 27 were the ideal age for dating. They were at that magical age where they were old enough to mostly have their shit together, but were still young enough that you could reasonably assume that they weren't yet feeling much pressure to settle down. While I have some problems with his assumptions, I have yet to have any personal experiences to counter them.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:51 PM on September 30, 2012

Rhizome: I don't look like any celebrities, but you raise an interesting point. I've always been a bit "alternative"-looking, and pop culture seems to resemble me more now than it did back when I was in its target audience (ie. I am more Gaga in the 2010s than Britney in the early 2000s). Maybe it's more socially acceptable to like girls like me these days.
posted by gohabsgo at 9:05 PM on September 30, 2012

I wouldn't consider 27 "older". At least among the people I know, and among those crude enough to give voice to age preferences, I've heard more than one preference for the 27-32 range in women: it's old enough to have sexual confidence, a secure and organized life, the ability to differentiate partners from flings, yet also young enough not to be focused on long-term "settling down", forming a family, making babies, etc.

Older men (cough) may well feel like it's not quite right to be dating younger women, or at least not hitting on you overtly in public. It's a bit more culturally loaded. I'm not sure what's up with men your age.
posted by ead at 9:09 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

You might find this entry on the OKCupid Blog interesting, The Case for an Older Woman.

There is indeed a thing where it is considered weird for there to be a younger man / older woman pairing where it is not for there to be a older man / younger woman pairing, which makes your recent experience notable. However, when all of the misogynistic baggage related to blaming women for their sexualities is removed, I'd suggest that this is a function of younger men today having their heads significantly less far up their asses then younger men of a generation ago.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:58 PM on September 30, 2012

Median age of first marriage for guys in the USA is 28.9 yo. It's possible that many guys your age or older are settling down, leaving only younger guys to hit on you.
posted by benzenedream at 12:24 AM on October 1, 2012 [15 favorites]

Damn, benzenedream, you may have hit on it there: a simple circumstantial explanation, while we were all looking for a fundamental attribution in the men.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 12:59 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

"milfs" may get some publicity these days, but so do furries; they're both still fringe.

To be fair, I don't think a 27-year-old would be seen as a MILF by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, of course a 27-year-old can be a MILF, but younger guys aren't looking at her like, "check out that MILF." But in my experience, college-aged men are very attracted to the confidence and self-assurance that women in their mid-20's project relative to college-aged women, who are generally--not always--more insecure and needy. And of course OP will soon be approaching her sexual peak (which I believe is around 30 for women and 18-ish for men, could be wrong about that).

Also, maybe once men hit their late 20's or so, they mostly hit on younger women because they assume women their age are probably taken. Or maybe they start to feel like they're too old to be hitting on women in public or something, or they no longer have that youthful clueless cockiness that spurs the younger ones on. Although I'd say it's most likely just chance?
posted by désoeuvrée at 2:45 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

This happened to me when I was 25-28, and to a man they were all looking for casual sex. Most of my female friends in the same age bracket were married or in serious relationships, and something about being uncoupled at that age made younger guys thing I'd be up for sex. It stopped cold once I hit thirty. I did a lot of online dating, and okcupid is spot-on: most guys filter out anyone over the age of thirty no matter what they look like, at least through online dating.
posted by thelastcamel at 4:12 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Plural-of-anecdote-is-not-data-filter: I met my wife when she was 28 and I was 23. When you're 23, and have been dating a lot of 23-year-old girls, talking to somebody who has her life together and is past the early-20's drama/ennui can be a revelation. It's not that someone a few years older has any sort of mystical "cougar" thing going on, it's that 27-year-olds on the whole have their shit together in a way that 23-year-olds don't, which is way hot. (I acknowledge that I'm painting with a broad brush here; YMMV)
posted by Mayor West at 5:51 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm thirty. Virtually all the men and women I know are in LTRs.

I do suspect that it is simply that you've aged into a period where many people are settled/settling down and the people out there hitting on you just happen to be younger because those are the people still on the hunt.

Also, when you say "hit on" do you mean cheesy lines or attempted bar pick ups? Cause that sort of thing gets less common as dudes age just because they are not often well-received. I can imgine that people in your radar may have just shifted gears and you should look and see if there are more subtle flirtations being extended to you by more... mature? Men.

I kinda bet it's a little of that, and a little bit of chance.
posted by Blisterlips at 7:23 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ignoring your actual age and focusing more on the younger/older dynamic -- I have found a shift in female tastes in my social circles. Granted I am in the 40-49 demographic, but a lot of the female divorcees I see nowadays are looking for younger men specifically because they have no interest in settling down (again or soon), would like to remain sexually active, and dare I say, younger people tend to be hotter than older people. Moreover, even if they are looking for a monogamous relationship, they rather be with someone who is more likely to have grown up in a society where men take care of more of their own business (younger guys) vs. being with a guy who wants a woman to take care of them (older guys). Obviously these are generalities.

So in response to your question, men actually might be responding to a shift a female tastes and not necessarily be trying to fulfill a MILF fantasy.
posted by teg4rvn at 9:42 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

If there is a significant collegiate or post-collegiate population around, one anecdotal factor worth considering is that I started crushing on grad student TAs and young professors while I was in school. It was certainly the first time I was attracted to older women, and much of it was for the reasons stated by Mayor West: they're intelligent, have career paths, strongly defined interests, and aren't stuck in the unattractively confusing and disorienting place many of your peers are. In other words, yes, they've got their shit together.
posted by gregoryg at 11:21 AM on October 1, 2012

Thanks for all the great responses! I am inclined to believe that in my case it's likely a combination of the factors mentioned in play. Interesting phenomenon, regardless of attribution.
posted by gohabsgo at 2:41 PM on October 1, 2012

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