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Men like women this age only and women collectively sigh

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

New OkCupid study proves our worst fears about men preferring younger women

In the world of heterosexual dating, men and women are always trying to figure out and then emulate what the other wants. Yes, the ultimate goal is to be compatible, but on a more superficial level, when we're on a date, we simply want to appear attractive.

Not surprisingly, men and women have differing ideas on what attributes they consider to be attractive. While personality and physical traits may be more difficult to quantify, most desirable age range is relatively easy, especially for a dating site that has a large amount of data from active daters.

MoreOKCupid expands sexual identity and gender options

The co-founder of OkCupid, Christian Rudder, compiled all the male and female users' preferences in terms of ideal age of a match and found something rather disturbing. While women tend to want a guy closer to their own age, men across the board from age 20 to 50 prefer women in their early 20s. These results are disheartening, but I'm sure I speak for most women out there when I say they're far from surprising.

It's easy to want to call out all men for being shallow and disgustingly age-biased, but when you think of it from an evolutionary standpoint, the statistics make sense. Men are physiologically designed to spread their seed in hopes that they'll impregnate women and further the human race. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, a woman's most fertile age is somewhere between 19 and 26. Hence, it's within men's innate biological need to mate with women in that age range because they're the most likely to get pregnant.

Women, on the other hand, are not physiologically bound by a younger age preference, because men can still be fertile all the way into their 70s. That said, according to the data, when women reach their early 40s, their age preference begins to veer toward the younger man. This may be because men's virility starts to decline by age 40, according to Healthline. While heterosexual women in their 40s are likely thinking less about getting pregnant, odds are they still want to be sexually satisfied by a man. According to science, men in their mid-30s are more inclined to do the job than men in their 40s.

MoreMen in their 20s want a really surprising kind of woman

Does this knowledge of men's and women's inherent, biological inclinations help make these numbers less troubling? Probably not. The only consolation is that men are not the only deciders in who they get to mate with and date. Most 20-year-old women aren't going to go for the 50-year-old men who favor them above the women in their age bracket. Older men can look and make comments all they want, but at the end of the day, favoring a younger model does not mean they're going to get her.

Another thing to consider is that OkCupid is a skewed group, because the site is geared more toward singles who are looking to hook up rather than begin a serious relationship. If the question had been "what age do you prefer to marry?" odds are these numbers would look somewhat different.

MoreThe real problem with dating apps

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