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After the wedding of acelebrityhusband and his much younger wife, media coverage invariably focuses on the inappropriateness of the age gap. Whether its the new dad George Clooney (56) and his 18-year-younger wife, Amal, orDonald Trump(70) and his First Lady, Melania (age 47), commentators become psychoanalysts, suggesting that the younger woman is clearly seeking a father figure. Similar stories are triggered by the (much less-common) pairing of a younger man with an older woman, as with 39-year-old French president Emmanuel Macron, and his wife, Brigitte, 64. The rarity of such weddings make them novelties, but not fodder for the same type of speculation.

Its well known that men tend to marry women younger than themselves, a pattern that leads to increasingly unbalanced male-to-femalegenderratios as you move up to older and older age groups. Men also have a lower life expectancy than women, leaving women in the 75-and-up age bracket with fewer and fewer choices of heterosexual partners. An age difference of up to 10 years is generally not looked at askance by anyone who knows how old each partner is, but as that gap gets closer to 20, things start to look a bit more off balance. Once a man is literally old enough to be a womans father (or vice versa, for older women), public opinion starts to shift from acceptance to skepticism.

St. Marys Universitys (Halifax) Sara Skentelbery and Darren Fowlerexaminedthe phenomenon of age gap relationships (AGRs) from an evolutionary perspective, noting that such pairings have benefits in terms of species survival. A middle-aged or older man pairing with a younger woman, from this viewpoint, ensures that he will continue to have offspring at older ages than would be possible with a peer who is past childbearing age. There are some assumptions within this framework for example, that people behave in ways that are intended to guarantee the future of the species rather than in response to sociocultural influences. This argument contrasts with the sociocultural perspective, which proposes that negative attitudes involved in ageism andsexismcause older women to be seen as less physically attractive to potential mates.

The sociocultural perspective for understanding the pairing of older men and younger women explains not just that younger women seem physically more attractive to aging males, but that the older man represents socially valued attributes that lead his younger partner towantto bond with him. With age, men may acquire greater power or possess more property, financial and otherwise. The older men with the most appeal to younger women would be those with financial prosperity who are willing to heap some of those financial rewards onto their partner. Meanwhile, these older men believe theyll accrue even more power and status by sporting their younger, glamorous, and well-outfitted new spouse.

Skentelbery and Fowler wanted to investigate whether its true that the women in such pairings were seeking father figures for psychological reasons. Because these relationships are more prevalent when they involve older men and younger women, the authors didnt perform an analogous study of mommy figures. If its true that younger women in AGRs are seeking father figures, then it would be expected that they would have maladaptive relationships with their fathers which play out in adulthood by their choice of a mate.

The framework that the St. Marys researchers used to test this proposition isattachmenttheory. According to the attachment theory perspective, peoples adult relationships reflect the way they were treated by their caregivers. Women who need the security of a father figure would, from this point of view, have been poorly cared for by their own fathers, as reflected in later seeking security from an older male. Skentelbery and Fowler therefore sought to compare AGR women with those in SARs (same-age relationships).

Testing their predictions on a sample of 173 women, all involved in aromantic relationship, the studys authors compared those in AGRs (with a nine-year or larger age difference) vs. SARs (with just one-to-four-year differences). The AGR women ranged from 18 to 53 years old, with partners, on average, 17.3 years older than themselves. Using standard questionnaire measures, the research team asked all participants to rate their attachment styles as well as their relationship satisfaction. As a control to self-report bias, Skentelbery and Fowler also asked participants to complete a measure of social desirability, or the tendency to exaggerate ones positive attributes on a questionnaire (e.g. I never make a long trip without checking the safety of my car).

Consistent with large-scale attachment style studies, nearly three-quarters of the sample reported being securely attached. The key comparisons yielded no differences between AGRs and SARs. The two age-based relationship samples were similar in both attachment style and relationship satisfaction. Further, the size of the age gap did not relate significantly to satisfaction with the partner.

Its risky to account for a lack of differences: Are these non-effects due to faulty methodology or a flawed theory? Its possible that there were weaknesses in the sample recruitment, as an AGR online forum provided the data for that group; these individuals may not be typical representatives of AGRs. However, if we accept the findings, the Skentelbery and Fowler study suggests that the younger woman-older man relationship hasnounique psychological qualities, at least on the measures used.

Relationship fulfillment depends on a host of factors, but according to this study, the age gap alone is not sufficient to predict who will be happiest with whom. That older man (or woman) may just be someone who is a good fit to his partner, and, like other couples who defy stereotypes, their psychological bonding can transcend the demographics.

Follow me on y updates on psychology,health, and aging. Feel free to join myFacebookgroup,Fulfillment at Any Age, to discuss todays blog, or to ask further questions about this posting.

Skentelbery, S. G., & Fowler, D. M. (2016). Attachment styles of women-younger partners in age-gap relationships.Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 10(2), 142-147. doi:10.1037/ebs0000064

Women date older men because they find men their age to be immature. Im 25 and my dating pool is filled with whiny men who dont know how my reproductive system works. Do I want a son or a father?

I have to agree. Im sure they dont represent all women, but I know several single women in their 30s who are dating older men. The simple reason they give is that most men their own age are ridiculously immature.

From what Ive seen its usually immature girls who complain about immature men. These girls are the type commonly complaining about how all guys are jerks or players etc. Ever think maybe its the kind of guy YOU go after that is the problem? Dating outside of ones age group usually means you found your partner outside of your normal social circle. Thus meaning he may be a different type of man that you normally may pass up if he was younger.

But hey what do I know. Im just a 26 year old male with sisters and plenty of female friends.

From what Ive seen its usually immature girls who complain about immature men.

No, its a real problem, even documented in an article in the Wall Street Journal a ways back. The problem is that the percentage of men in their late 20s and 30s who are jobless and living in their parents basement is way up from a small percentage. Video games, pizza, porn, are the staples, and going out and actually dating a woman who insists the guy have his own place — too much trouble for some of these guys whod rather just swipe left and right on Tinder for a few minutes before they get back to their video games. Women who are looking for a serious guy in his 20s with a job and his own apartment or house are today going to find very slim pickins. The movie Failure to Launch is no longer a joke.

I a psychologist and did my research and yes women are much better with younger men, than the other way around, it is all about money, for these younger women and they need to be taught how to be independent not exploited

Yeah…I cant agree more even though Im more towards gen X…sure some women may date older men for their money but I wouldnt be surprised that most younger women are dating older men because of the maturity factor for sure…

Men need time and experiences before they reach a level of maturity to be able to settle down and raise a family the way a woman would want…

But age aint nothing but a number too…there are some mature younger men out there just as there are immature older men well into their 40s and 50s…

This article is geared so men can exploit girls and the reasons are 75 percent not true about older men, as you cannot change a person character. You women are only going to find yourselves alone one day as you are going to get past thirty very soon! Then what are you going to do? Do you really fashion your ignorance on thinking because you are so much younger that he will stay with you and not leave you for someone younger too? Women need to turn the tables because if you do not you will pave the way for your female children, sisters, etc. Do not tell me that you are not attracted the individual who can just really love you. No it is because you want him to financially support you or want a father figure. Keep it up and you will sabotage your happiness. Women you will get old and it will happen fast, or he has already abused his wife and tells you it is all her fault, do not believe that. I am a very young beautiful 50 year old woman, and it is very sick of a man who is insecure and if it was his daughter he would get very angry. If you do not stand your ground now you will ruin all opportunities a woman deserves.

Perhaps the women of today are too demanding that lead men to conclude that a life of video games, Tinder and online porn are more fulfilling than conventional relationships.

I mean Tinder?!? Aw, cmon! Does anyone honestly think that guys use Tinder to seek meaningful relationships? No. Perhaps these guys are just dropping out of societical norms because the risk / reward return on relationships are too risky for men. Perhaps they feel they are getting more enjoyment by being the sole CEO of their own life as opposed to getting married and eventually getting divorced with the ex wife taking half his X Box (as well as the house, pension, kids, etc).

Do you see where this is going? Its not that men are immature (although theres always the exception), its that a lot of men are starting to realise that they dont need the stress of a college education, a demanding career, wife and kids. Check the marriage and divorce stats for yourself, read Men on Strike by Dr H Smith and reappraise the situation.

Well, we seem to have gone off the beaten track here. Something about age gap relationships and immaturity wasnt it?

I mean Tinder?!? Aw, cmon! Does anyone honestly think that guys use Tinder to seek meaningful relationships? No.

Yes, some guys do. Some even swipe obsessively trying to find someone.

Do you see where this is going? Its not that men are immature (although theres always the exception), its that a lot of men are starting to realise that they dont need the stress of a college education, a demanding career, wife and kids. Check the marriage and divorce stats for yourself, read Men on Strike by Dr H Smith and reappraise the situation.

Doesnt matter what you call it. We could agree to call it unshackled men who feel so for whatever reason, and do what they do for whatever reason, whether it makes sense or not. But the bottom line is still the same. Women arent looking for these unshackled men. And what they call these men is immature. Ive heard it more than once from young women. And whether their reasoning is wrong or not, or if its the fault of men or women or both or society, the fact is still the same — a good number of them are going for older men.

Its not hard to see that if youre an unattached woman in her 30s and you feel the biological clock ticking (which it in fact is doing at that age, and very loudly), an established and stable guy 10-20 years older whos out of his porn/video game phase, and whos pulling down a serious stable income, is just a lot more desirable for basic instinctive reasons.

Yes, some guys do. Some even swipe obsessively trying to find someone.

Again, theres always the exception, but dating sites usually give singletons the encouragement to be hypergamous and if women have baby rabies then they may become prone to seeking someone with resources – which is an important criteria to have in place when raising kids – but it doesnt necessarily lead to a lasting relationship between partners who may opt for this type of relationship transaction. Tinder has a reputation for being a hook-up site and we are kidding ourselves if we think otherwise.

Doesnt matter what you call it. We could agree to call it unshackled men who feel so for whatever reason, and do what they do for whatever reason, whether it makes sense or not. But the bottom line is still the same. Women arent looking for these unshackled men. And what they call these men is immature. Ive heard it more than once from young women. And whether their reasoning is wrong or not, or if its the fault of men or women or both or society, the fact is still the same — a good number of them are going for older men.

Indeed, call it what you like, but these unshackled men, whether they are being sought after or not, have matured to the extent that they will not fall prey to women who only think of their own needs for babies and resources, with the real danger of a damaging split a few years down the line. Some women do go for unshackled men believing that these men can be changed. In doing so, disastrous consequences may ensue, for example the break up of a family unit. Im sure hell change once hes discovered that hes impregnated me. This stuff happens.

Its not hard to see that if youre an unattached woman in her 30s and you feel the biological clock ticking (which it in fact is doing at that age, and very loudly), an established and stable guy 10-20 years older whos out of his porn/video game phase, and whos pulling down a serious stable income, is just a lot more desirable for basic instinctive reasons.

I totally agree, but when guys have matured beyond the porn/video game phase, their decision making process becomes more astute. At around their mid 30s, guys will tend to think less through their small head and more through their big head (with maturity they will eventually become more rational and do more research into a prospective partner). The issue that then arises is that most of these guys find a lot of these single women intolerable and therefore they will have no qualms when it comes to returning to their porn/video game phase. Its less stressful.

Hey… pairing was a deal that started thousands of years ago to ensure a woman for sex and a man for protection. Later it evolved to acquired property to be only passed or shared with blood of the offspring of the natural father of such. Men always had the upper hand to choose a younger wife to insure more sex, more children and most importantly….. a caregiver as they got old and sick. Time hasnt really changed on that matter. As far as why young women deliberately are drawn to much older men? Probably the wining and dining that an established man can provide, but that only lasts so long before the sparkle is gone and she is left with a sick old man who is impotent.

As far as why young women deliberately are drawn to much older men? Probably the wining and dining that an established man can provide, but that only lasts so long before the sparkle is gone and she is left with a sick old man who is impotent.

Typical dismissive comment by an armchair sociologist. Age-peer relationships are all about love, while age-disparate relationships are always only about getting money or a young body. Yeah, right. I know plenty of same-age gold-diggers, and I personally know of age-disparate relationships which are all about attractions due to their differences, or even shared interests, etc.

Probably the wining and dining that an established man can provide, but that only lasts so long before the sparkle is gone and she is left with a sick old man who is impotent.

Oh, and yeah, about that unlikely comment, most marriages, whether age-disparate or not, dont last long enough for one person to get sick, impotent, menopausal, or die well before the other.

As if age-matched couples always get sick or impotent at the same time. LOL

I find myself in agreement with most of the comments here. However, I find the article misses the most important relationship factor: the one that transcends socio-economic status, age, race, ethnicity, gender, etc….love; people just fall in love (something wonderful and magical; an indefinable state/quality secular humanistic psychology seems to have been unable to decipher since Freud). Of course there are gold-diggers, but life and experience have taught me that, generally speaking, younger women choose to be with older men because they are more mature (mellowed, if one wishes), possess the wisdom that only comes with with age/living. And the manifestations of this are a better understanding of the opposite sex, and the respect, caring, and commitment needed to sustain a loving relationship. I do agree that if a women is young enough to be your daughter, then questions arise concerning intentions or pathological behavior–as Nabokov illustrated in his masterwork Lolita.

I do agree that if a women is young enough to be your daughter, then questions arise concerning intentions or pathological behavior

Depends on the actual ages. If the couple is 16 vs. 36, yes, maybe a problem. But a 60-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman, hardly a pathological problem.

…my entire life. The biggest age gap was when I was 28 and he was 56. I guess I fit in the textbook definition of younger women dating older men because they want a father figure. When I dated this man, I was deeply, emotionally fulfilled because I did need a father to love me that I never had. My father ignored me, was always drunk and made fun of me. I wish I could express what a deep fulfillment this man gave me..it was like water in a desert in my soul. Anyway, currently dating a man 56 and Im 43. But I always like to say, now that Im older, can I really say Im dating older men? lol. Anyway. Ive always liked older men, and always dated at least 10 yrs older.

My partner is 18 years older than me, he is 67 and Im 49 and weve been together for a year. He is 5 years younger than my father, who is very much alive and I have a great relationship with him. I dont need a father figure in my life, I already have a wonderful dad. My partner is not flush with money or property, Im with him because we have a lot in common and we enjoy each others company. We are both young looking for our ages and both active. I didnt seek out for an older man, it just happened that we met and got on really well. My only hesitation with his age, was others perceptions and I thought to myself, why not? Im happy. Why let other peoples thoughts shape my life?

Infidelity in a relationship is something that happens from either party in a relationship at some point in time, when you start suspecting that your partner is cheating, you start losing trust in him or her. But if you dont confirm whether he or she is cheating, you might be accusing your spouse wrongly. I started suspecting my partner not long ago but I had no concrete evidence, then I was recommended to this professional hacker, his name is John. He helped me to hack into my spouses WHATSAPP, FACEBOOK,Instagram ,etc

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Young women are basically angry that young men arent lining up to marry them. Boo hoo

It is purely matter of attraction. The older successful man are confident, not suffering with overworking insecurity. An insecure man/woman are much harder to be with and to love, and they cannot give and love freely. And it feels good to be adored and loved without much drama.

I love an older man. I am 51 and he is 73. Weve been dating for 3 years. He is my emotional match. He is crazy about me. He wants to get married, but I am hesitant because I am afraid he will die before me and it will hurt me to care for him and/or watch him die. We dont have some things in common because of generational differences, ie, music. I dont care. I listen to something he likes sometimes, and he listens to what I like sometimes. Not a big deal and certainly is not what bonds us. It does makes things more interesting. But, thats part of any relationship.

Gotta say he gets me, listens, is smart, stable, real confidence (Love it), just a little jealous and insecure which I find adorable, compassionate, full of empathy (all the time, not just sometimes), and all this helps me feel secure which I need. Unfortunately, in my 51 years on this planet, I have not met any men within 10 years of my age that have the depth of empathy and understanding of my boyfriend. I am so disappointed that my girlfriends husbands and boyfriends are so lacking in this needed quality. It causes so much strife in their relationships, and has caused so much strife for me when I have dated them. Unfortunately, I have found many men have too many superficial wants and expectations. This is a big disappointment, and hurtful if I liked the guy. I happen to be beautiful for my 51 years, but still hear the usual men disappointments of not measuring up to some plastic physical image in some way. I have also found men around my age unable to discuss differences, competing with me, and poor at compromise. Somehow compromise, and nurturing are suppose to come from me, but not so much them.

I was not looking for an older man to date. He won me over by expressing his attentive, warm, and caring attitude over and over and over again. He is all man, (ie, loves sports, protective, competitive, cares about his appearance and health) and not afraid that showing warmth and compassion all the time is not manly. No problems in the sex area either. Thank God for him because I could easily lose faith in the male gender if not for him.

However, as a couple, we are judged harshly by others even though we met on Match when I was 48 years old. So, as an independent woman, I have been labeled a Gold Digger, whore, asked unbelievably insulting questions by strangers like what do you do for a living? Wow, do you really think this man would pay me, a woman in menopause, for sex and companionship when he could pay a twenty something for that. OK, then…… my conclusion is most people are ageist and judgmental.

Ive yet to meet a younger woman with an older man who wasnt loaded. I had many many older men ask me out when I was young; it creeped me out! Going out with a man who is old but for cash is unconscionable. HAving an old mans baby – who wont be there for his children is not OK just because he will leave lots of cash ; money doesnt replace a father.

I guess if $$$$ and fame, is the goal – than its a good idea.

The guy still gets to have a younger woman on his arm – who cares if she is there for the BLING. Right guys?????

Dont think she loves you – 99 per cent of the time; she loves your $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Ive yet to meet a younger woman with an older man who wasnt loaded.

Well, first of all, the man is older in the vast majority of marriages, and more so in 2nd marriages. And women generally want a man whos loaded of any age, really. If hes young, they want him to potentially be loaded by insisting on someone whos ambitious and has energy, and is likely to earn money in the future to support her when shes pregnant, etc. And its not at all surprising that women would want an older man whos had a long time to have that ambition pay off in terms of earning money. So its no surprise that women would do not want an older man without money, because that would be proof that he was never ambitious and has no interests and no passion. Of course there are exceptions, but this is generally true.

I had many many older men ask me out when I was young; it creeped me out!

Not all young women feel that way about all older men.

Going out with a man who is old but for cash is unconscionable. HAving an old mans baby – who wont be there for his children is not OK just because he will leave lots of cash ; money doesnt replace a father.

Depends on his health too. Life has no guarantees. So sometimes you might fret about this, and then it turns out the older man lives a long time and the woman whos younger dies early of breast cancer. And most marriages dont even last 13 years, so this concern is really academic in most cases anyway.

Dont think she loves you – 99 per cent of the time; she loves your $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Wrong. Too cynical. In this day and age where women are getting college degrees in greater numbers than men, and women can earn real money, it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to hook up with an older man you dont like sexually, and have kids with him, and waste your whole life like that. No, in many cases, the feelings of love are real.

And these days, one problem for many women in their 30s is they seem to find men their own age to be jobless and immature, too frequently playing only video games in the parents basement after coming home from college and cant find a job. And a lot of these extended-adolescent men are just taking video game breaks with pizza and porn, and might give Tinder a quick try. They realize women their own age arent interested in many of them anyway, and see some of them going for older men who are more established.

…Dont think she loves you – 99 per cent of the time; she loves your $$$$$$$$$$$$.

…Youre right…women ARE fundamentally gold digging whores.

I was 53 when I married my wife, she was 27. I had had a number of close, intimate relationships in my life, but had never married. She had come off a relationship with a boyfriend her own age who had beaten her up badly at least a couple of times (she has a plate in her mouth, which she never removes, where some teeth are missing as a result of these attacks – it took me a year to discover that fact).

I couldnt offer her financial security, I wasnt that interested in having children (it never happened anyway after we got married).

What I could offer her was the fact that I was a nice, quiet guy who would let her grow as a person, would encourage her further education, and would not hurt her, physically or emotionally. I dont hit people, I wont even shout at them!

After 16 years now, we are still together and we are extremely fond of each other. And if anything, my health is in better shape than hers.

I think it has to do with maturity. Often youll find an older man less mature so he seeks a younger woman, who in turn is probably more mature so she seeks out an older man. I have seen a mature younger woman marrying an older man with less maturity than herself. I often wonder if it has to do with that, a paradox.

Im a female in my early 30s and Ive been attracted to older men as long as I can remember… Like pretty much ever since I was a young teenager. I was never into guys my own age and I never went through the teen heartthrob phase. I liked guys in their late 30s to early 50s. As Ive gotten older, this hasnt changed. Ive come across some very attractive older men in my life… And its not necessary just looks (although a handsome older man will always win over a handsome younger man… I find older men way more visually appealing). Theres definitely a maturity aspect as well. I was in a situation where I came across an older man at my place of work. We became friends and there was obviously a mutual attraction but neither of us ever pushed the issue… But I will say that the single most attractive thing about him was his intelligence. He was extremely smart. He was also confident and charismatic. Ive never met anyone that I have enjoyed talking to as much as I enjoyed conversing with him. That was a few years ago, but the experience made me realize that I seek older men (a certain type, that is) because they have experience, and the wisdom, confidence and emotional stability that comes with it. Young men just dont resonate with