Many of us look back on our dating past and wonder how on earth we could ever have considered romancing men so incompatible.
But new research has found that this is perfectly normal, revealing that women’s tastes change as they get older and proving that there is indeed a ‘perfect man’ for every stage in a woman’s life.
From bright young things on the hunt for a hunk to ‘later daters’ looking for a cerebral soulmate, the research shows that a woman’s age will often dictate the different characteristics they look for in a partner.
The research in match.com’s annual LoveGeist report, which tracks the nation’s changing attitudes towards dating and relationships, also disproves the notion that standards drop later in life, as women over 55 were shown to be most picky about who they date.
Dr. Cecilia D’Felice, clinical psychologist and relationship expert at match.com, said: ‘It is natural that, as women mature, our tastes adjust to our developing expectations.
‘When younger, looks predominate as we seek out someone with whom we want to share our genes, but these “surface attributes” become less important as we look for depth and new experiences later in life.’
So what makes a perfect man for each age in a woman’s life?
- First and foremost, young women want a man they can show off to their friends. 47 per cent said they would look for a relationship with someone their friends would approve of
- They are also suckers for a six-pack: 18-24s are most willing to date a man in better physical shape than them
- Shared tastes in music, films and books are far more important at this age than later in life
Dr. D’Felice said: ‘When we first start dating we carry over the desire to fit in and belong from our adolescence, and seek approval from our friends to validate our choices. We are building confidence at this age, and it’s important to us to know that we are choosing well.’
- As they forge ahead in their careers, women at this age begin to take a more long-term view, but are still susceptible to a dashing man; physical attraction is more important than ever
- Sexual compatibility is more important to 25-34s than at any other stage in their lives
- Ambition is also important, with almost two thirds citing this as a key trait in a man
Dr. D’Felice said: ‘As we grow in confidence and invest in our own careers, partners who are doing the same become very attractive to us.
‘And while we’re young and sexy it is natural that we want our dates to reflect this aspect of ourselves as well.
‘This mirroring of ambition and looks reflects these years when we are consolidating our persona; working out who we are and what we want.’
- As they look to settle down, women aged 35-44 are most likely to have their head turned by an older man. 73 per cent would be willing to date someone more than five years their senior
- Social graces are also an absolute must-have at this stage in life. Less than 1 per cent of the females surveyed said they would date a man with bad manners
Dr. D’Felice: ‘Priorities shift as we begin to think of commitment and family life.
‘Men who are established, stable, successful and have life experience become very attractive to women at this age, offering the depth of resources (both material and emotional) required for successful partnership.’
- Security is a key concern, with 95 per cent looking to find a partner with whom they felt secure
- Finding a man with a high income is as important to this age group as any other
- Women in this age range are less picky about who they date than any other
- In contrast to those just a few years younger, women aged 45-54 are most likely to consider dating a younger man. 54 per cent would be willing to date someone more than five years younger
Dr. D’Felice said: ‘At this stage women are becoming increasingly confident.
‘With hormone levels changing they become more assertive, experimenting more and celebrating their wisdom.
‘They are prepared to take risks and perhaps seek out new adventures; they are not afraid to search for passion, but still understand that feeling secure is a vital ingredient for happiness.’
- In later life, women look for more cerebral delights. Intelligence and shared values are more important to the over-55s, as is sharing a similar sense of humour
- But they don’t drop their standards as they get older. In fact, those aged 55 and over are pickier about who they romance than at any other age
- They also continue to value sexual compatibility: 45 per cent strongly agreed that this was an important factor when forming a relationship
Dr. D’Felice said: ‘Subtle shifts in development create a well-rounded perspective on relationships, stressing the importance of friendship as well as sexual resonance.
‘These women take the long-term view that commitment requires humour, intelligence and shared values to stand the test of time, meaning they are not prepared to settle for anything else. Having experienced different relationships, they know exactly what they want and, importantly, what they don’t.’
by Susan Floyd