This morning a friend and I had a conversation about the differences between men and women in the biology of attraction. She had read about a study that claimed all men, regardless of age, “fantasize” about women in their 20s, while women typically “prefer” men their age or older. Now, one of the graduate classes I’m in is about research methods, so I immediately had an issue with how the article summarized the study, specifically the word choices and how it glossed over the actual facts in lieu of insinuating that all men are horny for young, nubile women. Because, you know, we don’t hear about that enough. In reality, the main point of the study was that both men and women are hardwired, biologically speaking, to be attracted to the age group that makes the most sense for procreating. For that purpose, men need mates who are most fertile (those in their 20s) while women need someone who can help raise offspring (not usually 20 year old men). Why we needed another study to confirm this is a different question altogether. The thing that bothered me was the effect of this article. It made my friend, who is dating a younger guy, question her own attractiveness. And not just in general, but to him. The crazy thing is that it wasn’t the first time this week that I’ve come across this issue. I watched a video the other day on Upworthy where a very attractive woman in her 60s talked about the time her boyfriend who was 5 years younger than she refused to take her to a restaurant because he was embarrassed to be seen with her in public. She was too old. Maybe he imagined himself with a 20 year old.
This isn’t a new thing. This constant worry about attractiveness. We are still fighting media pressure on getting or remaining attractive (and young) to a degree that’s ridiculous. I admit to having felt insecure some days myself, especially since I, too, am dating a guy who is younger than I am. But then reality sets in. We can’t all stay 20 something forever. And it angers me to be made to feel that aging is some kind of sin. That at some point, I will cross a threshold where I am no longer desirable or attractive. That implies that who I am is completely dependent on the way I look. Thus, I should spend a lot of time worrying about it. Well, I refuse to. I’ve already wasted too much time doing that. Instead, I trust that my relationship with my guy is based on more than looks. That the attraction is based on more than something physical, as good relationships are. Any doubt beyond that, I have to simply let go. Thankfully.