Numerous studies have found gender gaps in male and female notions of the ideal sex partner.
While most women prefer intercourse with a man their own age or older, men would like to make love to younger women – no matter what their own age.
A study at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim also found male students hankering for partners younger than themselves. The female students in the study preferred older partners.
Finnish researchers have tackled this subject again to see if these are accurate findings.
Jan Antfolk, a psychologist at Åbo Akademi University in Finland, conducted a survey of 2,655 women and men aged 18 to 50 in his country. These included heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals.
They were asked the age of persons they would preferably have sex with and the age of persons they actually have sex with.
The study has now been published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.
The researcher found as expected that women had a preference for male partners their own age or a little older.
Men, however, were less easy to pin down.
He found that young men have a tendency to be aroused by women who were older than themselves. An 18-year-old is often attracted to older women.
And as he grows older, he will be more interested in younger women. But not exclusively. He well also be interested in women his own age or older.
Despite what men and women might prefer, most just have sex with persons their own age.
Antfolk says in an interview with the Swedish language website Yle Nyheter that researchers have been far too preoccupied with the 50-year-old male who prefers women around the age of 25.
“Sure, there are men who are interested in younger women. But more typically a man will also like women his own age,” he says to Yle Nyheter.
Antfolk thinks that one of the reasons why males expand their age horizons in this sense links to women’s preferences.
If men aged 50 were only attracted to women in their 20s this would have an impact on the propagation of the species. He points out that there are not too many women in that fertile age group who are keen on men in their 50s.
Homosexual and bisexual men and women in the study do not stand much apart from heterosexuals in this respect.
But the Finnish researchers find one intriguing difference.
Older gay men are slightly more likely to have relationships with younger men. A hetero man is not comparably likely to stand a chance with young women.