And men and women did not differ much when it came to the oldest age they would consider.
Plus, men’s actual behavior looked different from their reported interests.
“They report an interest in both younger and older women.”And of course in the real world, Antfolk stressed, neither men nor women base their romantic choices on age alone.“We look for many different characteristics when choosing a partner, and age is just one of them,” he said.
For the study, Antfolk surveyed nearly 2,700 adults between the ages of 18 and 50.
Still, the findings do suggest “men’s lower age limit for a sexual partner may not be as low as we’ve thought, based on previous research,” Lehmiller said.
But he added an “important caveat.” The study was done in Finland, and the findings might not extend to other cultures, including the United States.
By comparison, heterosexual women were 35 years old, on average, and the youngest partner they would consider was around 27 (again, on average), the findings showed.
But on the other hand, men were also attracted to women their own age.
All study participants gave the age range they would “consider” for a sexual partner.
Then they were asked about their actual partners in the past five years.
And as they aged, their preferences for a sexual partner matured, too.
Basically, the stereotype that older men go for young women is “too crude,” said researcher Jan Antfolk, of Abo Akademi University, in Turku, Finland.“Sure, some older men have a strong preference for clearly younger women, but most tend to also find older women attractive,” Antfolk said.“An interesting finding is that as men age, they become less picky about age,” he added.
Men’s preferences evolved, too, though not as much: Their youngest age limit crept up by two months, on average, each year.