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Thread: Gender differences in sexual attraction: An illustration of the complex nature -nurtue interaction

  1. Top | #11
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Apparently I'm too old to comment.

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Brown View Post
    Somewhere I read (could have been snarky) that men want to mate with women who resemble their mothers when the men were infants--that golden period when their mothers were slim twenty-somethings who didn't hesitate to give them breasts.

    The OP also is supported by the lack of work for women in Hollywood. Sally Field (born 1946) played the love interest of Tom Hanks (born 1956) in "Punchline" (1988). Six years later she played his mother in "Forrest Gump."
    A case in point.

    Men do want to mate with women who resemble their mothers. Only Tom sort of got it backward. In 1988, somehow, he knew Sally was somehow his mother.


    More seriously, I think it's more of a reproduction rationale selected by nature.

    Young women are better prospective mothers and it doesn't necessarily cost much to try again and again for men, even compulsively.

    Women themselves are only motivated by reproduction when they are young. Later, they have different motivations. And they are realist in their expectations because it's the best strategy.

    Something like that... And that explains the OP's diagram.
    EB

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    This is a thread about the cultural/social impact that these preferences could have, regardless of where the preference originate from.
    I would say marriage, essentially. Optimal solution to an insoluble problem.
    EB

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    Member couch_sloth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea View Post
    It took me a while to think through all of this. There are a lot of ramifications. One is that at age 20, both have the best chance of getting what they want. And as each gets older, some will be settling, and some will be settled for. Which does indeed make for a different dynamic. The men perhaps thinking that they will later get a new thing that they want, while to woman would think about having to hold onto, and compete for, the thing that they want.

    All of this subconscious, of course...

    .
    I would guess that this is part of the reason why some cultures encourage young women to marry older men.
    A Hmong coworker once told me that their cultural tendency was to have girls around 16 yrs old, marry men men who are about 35. She said this helped prevent middle-aged men from looking for new partners, because they already have a young wife.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea View Post
    It took me a while to think through all of this. There are a lot of ramifications. One is that at age 20, both have the best chance of getting what they want. And as each gets older, some will be settling, and some will be settled for. Which does indeed make for a different dynamic. The men perhaps thinking that they will later get a new thing that they want, while to woman would think about having to hold onto, and compete for, the thing that they want.
    It'd be interesting if there was a link that explained these results in more detail. Because to me 'look best to them' isn't completely clear. Are these the ages someone actually ends up forming a long-term relationship with, or just the ages that are most physically attractive. Because those are two very different things.

    I don't think you can necessarily infer from this data that a 35 year old man who meets a 32 year old woman is 'settling'. The 32 year old might be the total package and a perfect fit, while the twenty-something is physically attractive but not a viable partner.

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    I am not sure that for men age is as big a factor as being made out. There's a lot more to it than age. I think weight and height are play a bigger part in attraction than age.

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    I warched an experiment.

    Men ad women were asked to pick a picture that they thought was aatractive for a mate.

    There trende to be bias towards body types and face types. Jaws, noses, eyes.

    Part genetic? Female birds select based on the brightness of plumage in some species. The plumage is an indicator of health.

    There is also pheromones.

    There is also reports I heard in the news that after 60 years of the sexual revolution people are becoming more conservative on sex.

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    I don't know about dudes but I do know that as a young woman, I tended to find that guys my age were less mature than the ones a few years older. As in: younger guys still were all about consuming as much alcohol and perhaps other recreationals as possible, were less interested in having actual conversations that didn't center around them or drinking or games or drinking games or sex. Maturity levels don't start to sync until into the 30's I think, in very general terms. Mileage may vary.

  9. Top | #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    I warched an experiment.

    Men ad women were asked to pick a picture that they thought was aatractive for a mate.

    There trende to be bias towards body types and face types. Jaws, noses, eyes.

    Part genetic? Female birds select based on the brightness of plumage in some species. The plumage is an indicator of health.

    There is also pheromones.

    There is also reports I heard in the news that after 60 years of the sexual revolution people are becoming more conservative on sex.
    That's a lot of words to say "I couldn't be bothered to read the OP"

  10. Top | #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don2 (Don1 Revised) View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    So, it will surprise no one here to learn that men of all ages prefer the looks of women in the early 20's. IOW, men never change in their sexual attraction to women and like the same age women when they are 50 as they did when they were 20.
    It may or may not surprise you to learn that women of all ages prefer the looks of men close to their own age. Women's tastes in men change in correspondence with their own age such that at age 20 women like men around 21, while women at age 50 like men around age 46.

    The founder of OK cupid published some data from his site based upon about 10 million users who as part of their attempts to find dates are asked about their preferences. Below are the graphs that show what I just described.





    This is NOT a thread about whether this difference in attraction is biologically based or evolutionary adaptive. Please start a separate thread for that argument.

    This is a thread about the cultural/social impact that these preferences could have, regardless of where the preference originate from.
    Even if these differences in preferences are biological, once these preference exist, they become part of the social/cultural environment that then has other additional impacts on people's behavior and can create other gender differences that themselves may have little direct genetic basis.

    Imagine you are a 20 year old person and almost every person who is a possible opposite sex mating partner no matter their age thinks you are at your most attractive now and you will rapidly decline in appeal. Everywhere you go where there are people of all ages of both sexes, you are among the most attractive to almost all the opposite sex there and you'll likely be acutely aware of it. Meanwhile, all the older members of your own sex are also acutely aware it too, likely causing some negative feelings towards you.

    Contrast that with being a 20 year old and only the possible mates around your age find you most attractive, but older possible mates do not. As you age, which subset of possible mates find you most attractive ages with you. Everywhere you go where there are various ages of both sexes, you are only the focal attraction of a subset of potential mates and older members of your sex also have their own subset of potential mates who find them attractive.

    No matter one's gender, it is likely that such drastically different social contexts would impact many aspects of one's psychology, self evaluations, sexuality, and how one views and interacts with members of one's own and the opposite sex.

    And while people of both sexes do vary in attractiveness in ways that are independent of age, the data show that on average females experience the social situations closer to the former while males experience the social situation closer to the latter.

    In addition, that is just the extreme difference of what it is like to be a 20 year old female vs. male. The male experience remains somewhat stable, b/c there is an ever changing subset of women who are most attracted to his age group. But the female experience changes drastically, such that an exponentially fewer number of potential mates are attracted to their age group. And as young women, they know this is coming toward them.

    Although the effects of these different social experiences seems likely to be large and impact many things, it is difficult in the abstract to know exactly how. But it is worthwhile speculating on what these impacts might be and keeping these possible effects caused proximally by "environmental" when thinking about various gender differences of many sorts.
    I think there may be some other trends in the data:
    • Young women may like slightly older men...like a 20 year old woman may like a 20 year old or a more mature 25 year old, averaging to 23.
    • Many older women who are still "active" may prefer a 40 year old man or a cut off at 40 because of how older men lose testosterone etc. Meanwhile other older women may be interested more in personality and conversation, liking those the same age.
    Yeah, those trends are there too. I agree that women in their low 20's probably prefer a man a couple years older than them, due to the typical low emotional maturity of 20 year old males. Most averages are also the most frequent score in a distribution (IOW, most distributions are normal), so I would bet that it isn't that half 20 year old women want a 20 year old and half want a 25 year old, but that the majority want a 23 year old. But by their mid 20's that goes away and women prefer men within 1 year of their age.

    The trend for women in their 40's is interesting. They seem to suddenly want men in their late 30's, but then this fades as women get close to 50s.
    That trend might be due to a more non-normal distribution where most women in their 40's want a guy close to their age, but a subset of recent divorcee's go out on the dating scene looking to sow their oats with a much younger man, which pulls down the average.
    "Cougars" are real.

    Regardless, that mild subtrends don't alter the fact of the more prevailing overall fact that women generally prefer men close to their own age, while the vast majority of men of all ages prefer women in the early 20s.

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