What Makes Older Men Sexy? We Asked a Sex Therapist


‘What makes older men sexy?’ is a controversial topic that I feel should be normalised in mainstream conversation. Personally, I talk about the gravitas of older men with my girlfriends all the time.

So, it got me thinking: why do younger women (sometimes) find older men so sexy?

From my own experience, I can think of a few reasons I find older men attractive. I love a face that has lived some life — wrinkles tell a story and an older face just has so much character to it. I like that many older men have passed that insecure stage of their life and now know their value and what they want. They’re also experienced when it comes to communication, honesty and sex, which are all super important elements of a relationship.

But for some reason, talking about sexual thoughts, feelings or fantasies that involve older men always seems to warrant a “you’ve just got daddy issues” response, which comes across as judgemental and patronising. Thanks to mainstream porn and social media, “daddy issues” are labelled problematic, which isn’t exactly true.

We all have complicated relationships with a parental figure in one way or another and the fact women get dealt the ‘daddy issues’ card in such a degrading way is an issue within itself. How are we ever supposed to unpack what having ‘daddy issues’ actually means if we get shamed for liking older men?

“Younger women dating or sleeping with older men is as old as time itself,” says Dr Tammy Nelson, TEDx speaker, certified sexologist and relationship therapist.

“Older men have a greater ratio of resources, can protect and care for younger women and may remind them of the father figure that is many times absent in their lives.”

Protection and care is a really big thing when it comes to relationships. It’s basic psychology that we seek out things in our relationships and friendships that we didn’t have in our childhood. We also look to right the wrongs of our parents or the wrongs of ourselves in relationships as a way of dealing with our past mistakes and times we suffered.

That doesn’t make those relationships wrong or meaningless. Actually, quite the opposite. Often, we need those relationships to help us heal and to better understand ourselves.

The concept of parental projection as a sexual fantasy is absolutely a real thing. It’s one very legitimate explanation for being into someone older, whether they’re male or female.

“While the idea of a sexual partner reminding you of a parent seems counterintuitive to sexual attraction, keep in mind that the number one searched term in pornography is ‘step-mom’,” says Dr Nelson.

“The idea of parental projection works as a sexual fantasy both ways and it’s extremely common.”

Everyone has desires. Some people are better at talking about them than others. I’m pretty open about sex, what I like and sharing my experiences, and even I don’t want someone going through my porn history.

I think that in this digital age, with so many transparent conversations going on online, we’re pretty aware of common sexual fantasies and kinks and we’re learning to be respectful of them.

Although we are getting better at accepting what other people find sexy, the negative stigma that follows younger women who date or sleep with older men is still prominent.

It feels like sex-shaming to me, which ultimately stems from insecurity or fear. Embracing sex positivity means creating a space for women to feel more comfortable to talk about their sexual desires, regardless of how taboo they may feel.

The more we get comfortable with our own desires, the more open we are to hearing the desires of others without judgement.

“Younger men can be a turn-off to women who tend to mature sooner,” says Dr Tammy, with another factor that plays into preferring older men.

“Younger men may not yet be settled in their careers, or over focus on making money and their ambition may make them ignore their primary relationship.”

It’s a well-documented fact that women often mature earlier than men, in their mid-twenties. In this case, the things you’re looking for in a relationship are most likely better suited to an older man, who is looking for a monogamous relationship and potentially, children.

They’re also more experienced in bed, which is really important if you’re past that stage of looking for new sexual experiences and enjoying one-night stands. If you know what you want from a sexual partner and what keeps you satisfied when it comes to sex, having one sexual partner who can give that to you makes sense on many levels.

“Older men tend to know more about how to please a woman in bed, have more advanced sexual skills, and will work harder to make a woman happy when they fear the competition of men closer to her age,” says Dr Tammy.

“They have lived more life experiences and may be ready to settle down and embrace monogamy, versus a younger man who is still searching for a permanent partnership and still shopping around.” 

Beyond the fact that having a thing for older men may have something to do with parental projection or be a reflection of where you are in your life and what you want, it’s also really okay for you just to find older men sexy.

Not every sexual fantasy has a deeper meaning and sometimes, it’s really nice just to enjoy your desires for what they are.

“In general, many women find salt and pepper-haired older men sexy,” concludes Dr Tammy and she couldn’t be more right.

You can’t deny that Steve Carell looks the best he’s ever looked? We didn’t come up with the term ‘Zaddy’ for no reason.

I’ve been with lots of older men in my life so far. Right now, I’m in a relationship with someone who was born in the same year as me — and he’s actually the youngest person I’ve ever dated.

But for me, I don’t think age factors into my attraction towards someone. Naturally, I often find older men more attractive than younger men because I think that confident people are hot.

It’s really important to be aware of our desires and have open conversations about them because it’s a possibility that you’re attracted to someone for a reason… which doesn’t mean that those reasons are wrong.

If we’re able to be open about what we like, then we can learn from each other and understand sexual desires more deeply.

And personally, living in a world where everyone’s desires are up for a judgement-free discussion is one I’d like to live in.

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