DECEMBER 13, 2010 6:44PM

Financially Independent Women Choose Attractive (Older) Men

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3,770 heterosexual participants (about half women, half men) were asked about their background, level of financial independences as well as their personal situation by a team of psychologists from Scotland. They were asked to rank a series of criteria that included financial prospects, sense of humor and physical attraction in order of importance when picking a partner. These results were matched against their own financial independence as well as income.

They discovered that as women become more financially independent, they want an attractive, older male partners.

Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that as a woman secures her financial freedom, she feels more confident choosing a mate because she doesn’t need to worry about finding someone who is financially secure. Therefore, other factors, like physical attractiveness, become more important. What I didn’t expect, though, was the fact that these women are choosing older mates, not younger ones.

We hear about “cougars” all the time in the media. A cougar is generally defined as a woman who is financially stable, older, sexy and looking to date a younger man. She is looking for some fun, she is looking for man candy, she is looking for hot sex. Now that this study has come out demonstrating that rich women favor older men, it has many researchers rather confused, as it flies in the face of their perceived stereotypes of men and women.

“Previous research shows that men place greater importance on physical attractiveness when picking a partner, whereas women focus much more on whether someone can provide material resources. We’d assume that as women earn more, their partner preferences would actually become more like those of men, with a tendency towards preferring younger, more attractive partners rather than those who can provide and care for children,” states the lead researcher, Dr. Fhionna Moore.

This is such a typical assertion by researchers. They always seem to assume that men are the “default” status and whatever men are doing, as soon as women are “able” to do the same, they must end up with the same results as men. But, of course, we are different creatures with different needs and goals, so what’s good for one gender doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good for the other.

Moore goes on to say, “However, the preferred age difference did not change as we’d expected---more financially independent women actually preferred even older men. We think this suggests greater financial independence gives women more confidence in partner choices, and attracts them to powerful, attractive older men.”

Moore’s explanation doesn’t really explain much. Why women who are financially independent are choosing older male partners does make sense, however, if you look at it from a female perspective. The financially freed woman doesn’t want to be her partner’s mother. She doesn’t want to have to take care of someone. She wants someone who can stand on their own and complement her life and all the hard work she has put in to getting where she is at. Someone who is also financially stable will appreciate what she has accomplished and she won’t have to wonder if they are just there for the “free ride.” No matter what situation women are in financially, we still expect the man to be able to take care of himself. If she wanted a baby, she would have had one.

You can read the research in the latest online issue of Evolutionary Psychology.

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