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Are Older Women More Sexually Adventurous Than 20-Somethings?

A new study reveals the somewhat surprising information that older women are more likely to have sex on a first date than younger ones. Why?

It wasn’t some big-news, 40-point headline, WTF kind of statistic, just an interesting gap in age-related behavior reported by associate editor Carolyn Kylstra in her recent Men’s Health story . The story explored the differences in dating and sexual behavior of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s based on a survey of 1,400 women. When it came to the question of having sex on a first date if there was chemistry, 17 percent of the 20somethings said that was a possibility versus 28 percent of the 30- and 29 percent of the 40-somethings.

If the first thing you thought was, “Really? I thought younger girls were throwing it around like confetti,” you and me both. With the background noise of hook-up culture, sexting, friends with benefits, and the Duke Sex List it’s easy to think that younger women are pretty sexually aggressive… that is, if pop culture is your main source of information.

The fact is that they do have other influences besides those mentioned above. Kylstra offered some additional thoughts via email on why young women are more conservative than one might imagine.

Girls in their 20s, she offers, are still close enough with family and friends to consider their opinions important; indeed, in the story it notes that the dating site OKCupid found that “my girlfriends” is the most common phrase used by straight women in their profiles and “close with my mother” is in the top 20. If mom or the BFFs don’t approve of jumping into bed, she might be less likely to rush it.

Younger women also haven’t had that much sex so they’re not as sure about how to get what they want, and they’re less secure about their bodies, which is kind of ironic, considering that many older women pine for the bodies they had when they were younger. An abstract from an Oregon Health and Science University study on body image published in The Journal of General Psychology found that “younger and older women have similar body dissatisfaction but that younger women have a higher drive for thinness and experience more societal influence on their body image.” Interestingly Glamor magazine’s 2009 body image survey of 16,000 women reported that the body images of young women had perked up considerably, with 22 percent percent of younger woman more “likely to be happy with their shape than older women are.” The story also quotes psychologist Anne Kearney-Cook as crediting recent efforts to show more varied body images as helping with this confidence boost.

So maybe it depends on who you ask.

Kylstra also notes a study from the University of Texas at Austin which shows that women in the middle age group of 27-45 (the other groups were 18-26 and 45+) thought about and had more sex and “are more willing to engage in sex after knowing a partner for either one month, one week or one evening,” according to Tom Jacobs who wrote about the study for Miller-McCune. The researchers think this is a response to declining fertility, but also noted it can simply be that older women are more comfortable with sex.

“Older women – that’s 'older' since 40s is still young to me – are clearer about what they want and what they don’t,” says psychotherapist Isadora Alman, whose sex and relationship advice column “Ask Isadora,” has been running in various outlets for 25 years. “Older women also may be looking for good sex since they may have had enough of the other kind,” she says.

Agreed, and I would add to Isadora’s thoughts that an older woman (I’m 46) is less likely to suggest or accept a date with someone she’s not attracted to, so her sexual intention might be there from the start. Younger women will go out just for the sake of going out. Older have less time – in a day and on this earth – and we’re more picky about how we spend it. We’re not going to waste an hour on a “maybe" when we know what “Yes! Yes! Yes!” is what it's all about.

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