The attraction to younger women, I mean much younger women, is almost a cliché in our society. I am reminded of a cartoon I saw in which two young cute women are at a party and are looking across the room at an elderly man. One woman is saying to the other “Him? He’s old enough to be my husband!”
Leaving aside the idea of a biological imperative for men to seek good breeders, the discussions of the question touch on a lot of social and psychological issues including that of sex addiction.
First of all people’s fantasies are what they are. They are often laid down early in life and have a lot to do with social expectations, media messaging and role models. And the message to men is: when it comes to women younger is more attractive and much younger is a real coup.
What happened to generational boundaries?
Sex in modern society has always had bounds around it, taboos, like sex with children, sex with immediate family and sex with animals. Another boundary that used to be commonly respected was what psychologists call a generational boundary. There is some idea in our collective unconscious that we should keep our sex life in our own generation and let the younger generation have their own sex life with their peers. Generational boundaries also imply that we stick to certain role expectations, like not expecting our under-age children to serve as our confidants or our advisers.
However, my feeling is that we may have to adjust to a world where the boundaries around what is an acceptable age for a mate are much more flexible. But what are we supposed to feel when a man marries a woman young enough to be his daughter’s daughter? Will we ever get past the creep factor?
Women are drawn into the fantasy
The pressure for women to look perpetually young and, in the current generation, overtly sexual is immense. The pornification of our culture, including the sexualizing of even young children forces women into self-objectification. To look your age or what is even worse, to look older than the man you are with is to be undesirable.
Most women accept to some extent the assumption that they are sex objects. They can fit the image or they can be marginalized. The net result is that women are expected to look and dress in a ways that inspire envy, lust and pride, both from other women and from men. (These are not the most honorable of motives as they cover 3 out of the 7 deadly sins.) This is also known as the porn star standard of beauty, and it is predominantly a young one.
What about relationships?
I can only conclude that when it comes to the fascination with younger women, men are operating on a certain level of fantasy. This is fine if the person is not a sex addict and if they have no interest in a more substantial relationship. If the younger woman makes them feel validated, impresses their friends and keeps them happy sexually then that may be what they want in a partner.
However, this kind of liaison is often part of a pattern of serial seductions, serial affairs and random hook-ups that characterize a sexual addiction. Such a person is intimacy disabled and can’t deal with normal courtship, getting to know someone apart from their looks, and having other things that sustain the relationship besides sex. See also the accounts of the meltdown of the feminist anti-porn activist Hugo Schwyzer who last summer admitted a pattern of chasing after much younger women (and sexting) to feel desirable and using his feminism to gain admiration from average women.
Many men, even sex addicts will eventually get tired of this kind of relationship. I am reminded of the saying “Show me a beautiful woman and I’ll show you a man who is tired of having sex with her!”