My mom’s a head turner. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been out with her and a guy around my age directed his gaze right past me to hone in on her. She gets the majority of the flirty banter, the phone-number solicitation, and date invites. This is primarily due to the fact that our personalities couldn’t be more opposite. She’s gregarious and extroverted where I’m reserved and quiet. When she laughs, it comes from the bottom of a deep well and the echo commands a crowd. My laugh is inaudible. Her walk is a carefree strut, every sidewalk a cat walk. I walk like a sidewalk is a mere means to an end. Mom is excitement in sensible heels, and I almost always give off a vibe that says: I’d rather be home reading a book. For us, it isn’t so much about age as it is about divergent personalities. Hers is a much bigger hit with would-be gentlemen callers.

But a facetious Next Avenue article aimed at 50something-aged readers points to age as a more significant factor. It speculates about all the reasons a younger man might be attracted to a woman in her 50s over a woman closer to his own age. Many of writer John Stark’s ideas echo my observations about my 50something mom. Among other things, he claims that younger men are drawn to an older woman’s life experiences, her understated fashion sense, her independence, and her ability to make a man feel like he’s the only one in a room.

An iVillage article published last year, which uses first-hand accounts from younger men, corroborates Stark’s ideas, adding that men find older women more giving, self-possessed, emotionally stable, and clear about their expectations.

The New York Times also weighed in on the issue, citing that women who reciprocate interest in younger men may be doing so because of their postponement of marriage in favor of career and educational pursuits:

The loosening of relationship conventions, which is not limited to age, but also includes race, religion, and economic status, appears to be particularly evident among female baby boomers, sociologists say, who are faced with the tightest “marriage squeeze” — the smallest pool of compatible men as conventionally defined, those two to three years older, of similar background and higher levels of education and income. The reason is that as women have delayed marriage, men still have a tendency to date and marry younger women…. Researchers and relationship experts say that a growing number of men and older women are dating, or at least contemplating it. The women tend to be highly educated and have been married before and are not necessarily seeking out marriage or even cohabitation.

As for my mom, it’s the rare young dude who gets more than the time of day from her, “marriage squeeze” data, notwithstanding.

What do you think? Do older women emanate a more giving, attentive, and self-possessed air? Has anyone else ever been glanced over in favor of an older woman (maybe even Mom)?

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