Articles and blog posts that attempt to answer this question appear on a regular basis. The explanation they provide for this phenomenon is usually an exercise in inanity of major proportions. Here is the most recent example:
The obvious question is why so few men are interested in dating women their own age. . . The reasons older men chase younger women have less to do with sex and everything to do with a profound desire to reassure ourselves that we’ve still got “it.” “It” isn’t just physical attractiveness; “it” is the whole masculine package of youth, vitality, and, above all else,possibility. It’s not that women our own age are less attractive, it’s that they lack the culturally-based power to reassure our fragile, aging egos that we are still hot and hip and filled with potential. Inspiring desire in women young enough to be our daughters becomes the most potent of all anti-aging remedies, particularly when we can show off our much younger dates to our peers.
Leave it to somebody born and raised in a Puritanical society to get into a rush to reassure everybody that relationships between men and women cannot possibly be based on anything related to human sexuality.
So let us cut through this pseudo-psychological blabber about peers and egos and look for the real reasons behind this phenomenon that Hugo Schwyzer, the author of this article, chose to ignore.
The sad truth about sexual desire is that, in terms of age, it does not develop equally in men and women. Men normally experience the peak of their sexuality in their twenties, at the latest. In the meanwhile, their 20-year-old female peers are not all that interested in sex. For a variety of cultural and physiological reasons, female sexuality awakens and reaches its peak much later. Forty and fifty-year old women are significantly more interested in sex than 20-year-olds.
Male sexuality, however, begins to fade in men’s late forties and fifties. The reasons for that are also socially constructed to a great degree, and we can discuss that later if people are interested. So where does a man go when he realizes that he cannot satisfy the sexual demands of his female peers? Obviously, he often turns to 20-year-old women who don’t need or want a lot of sex. Relationships with much younger women are simply a way for many men to conceal from themselves and women of their age the waning sexual potency they often experience as they move into their 50s and 60s.
P.S. I hope it’s clear from the post that I’m not talking about situations when a man falls in love with a woman who happens to be younger. I’m talking specifically about cases where a man chases after women (plural) and a defining criterion of his search for a partner is that the partner should be younger.