We live in a time where many of us pour tons of time and money into staving off the signs of aging—whether that means dutifully applying eye serum every night before bed, or hitting up your derm for some preventative Botox in your twenties.
But some disturbing data shows that as women, if we want to be attractive as we age, the best thing we can do is really just not age past 20.
Christian Rudder, co-founder of OKCupid, wrote an article on Jezebel that delves into the dating site’s data “built from tens of millions of preferences expressed in the act of finding a date.” The data reveals some pretty depressing results about what men are looking for in women.
Women prefer someone roughly around their own age. Before 30, they’re looking for slightly older men; once they hit 30, they are interested in someone slightly younger. Throughout her forties, a woman is most attracted to men at right around the age of 40. “If we want to pick the point where a man’s sexual appeal has reached its limit, it’s there: 40,” Rudder notes. Yikes.
But even more yikes? All men, from those in their twenties to those who are fifty, want to date a woman in her early twenties. The most commonly chosen ages are 20-23. For almost every year in his thirties, a man is most attracted to a 20-year-old woman. And a 50-year-old man is really gunning for a 22-year old on his arm.
What these stats imply: “A woman’s at her best when she’s in her very early twenties. Period,” says Rudder. Or, you can look at it this way: Men’s expectations never grow up. “A 50-year-old man’s idea of what’s hot is roughly the same as a college kid’s.” Is it wrong to say that after the initial shock, we’re kind of not really that shocked at all?