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Charlie Capen said he and his wife have a gallows humor about that, riffing off the fact that women on average live four years longer than men."Now we're more on even ground," he said.
These are all the stereotypical reasons people tend to think older men love to date younger women.
Given that social marginalization hurts a relationship's success, as Lehmiller's research also has found, large age gap relationships may struggle more than same-age relationships, he said.
Helen Piper, a 60-year-old retired paramedic living in Harrisburg, Penn., said age was a nonissue when she married a man nine years her junior six years ago; she and church friends in similar relationships joke that they're in a cougar club.
For her husband, Jeffrey Piper, 51, a retired state police trooper, the confidence that came with Helen's age was attractive because he likes women who say what they want.
"At that time, if the guy was younger, you were considered a pervert."Brings now gravitates toward younger men — the largest disparity was when she was 50 and dating a 25-year-old — because she finds she connects with them better and, frankly, men her own age aren't as interested in her."When I was in my 40s, I realized I had become invisible to men of my own generation," said Brings, co-author of "Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance" (New Horizon Press).
She noticed younger men, often raised by feminist women, were intrigued by and admiring of her success and experience, whereas older men seemed threatened and expected women to play traditional roles.