Men On Dating Apps Focus Almost Entirely On Women Younger Than Them

by Thea Glassman
Originally Published: 
Image via takasuu/Getty Images

A new dating app study found that men peak when they’re older and women when they’re younger

Today in news that’s not at all surprising but still 100 percent depressing, men are more popular on dating apps when they’re older, and women are more popular when they’re younger. Because, you know, let’s give women one more obstacle when it comes to the frustrating journey of trying to find a soulmate (or at least someone reasonably nice).

A new study published in the journal of Science Advances found that men’s desirability on dating apps peaks at 50, whereas women’s desirability peaks at 18. Yup, you read that correctly. 18 years old.

The authors of the study were just as taken aback as the rest of us.

“The age gradient for women definitely surprised us — both in terms of the fact that it steadily declined from the time women were 18 to the time they were 65, and also how steep it was,” Elizabeth Bruch, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, told The New York Times.

The New York Times also uncovered that these results aligned with another broad study done by OK Cupid in 2010, “in which the service found that men from the ages of 22 to 30 focus almost entirely on women who are younger than them.” An OK Cupid blog post about the study said, “The median 30-year-old man spends as much time messaging teenage girls as he does women his own age.”

200,000 heterosexual dating app users participated in the study. Researchers analyzed the messages men and women received over the course of a month – and came away with some pretty enlightening discoveries. Not only are men reaching out to women younger than them, but they’re also looking for someone who is less educated. The authors of the study noted that men found a woman less desirable if she had postgraduate education. Women, meanwhile, found it more attractive if a man had some additional education under his belt.

Bruch made the very valid point that if men actually met these women in person they might like the fact that they went to grad school.

“In the real world, the woman with a graduate degree who knows your favorite Kerouac passage, speaks a few languages or discovers new ways to cure disease might be undeniably attractive,” she said. “Think of Amal Clooney.”


The study also noted that both men and women are looking for aspirational mates on these apps (aka people out of their typical “leagues”), and not necessarily mates they’d actually pursue in real life.

“These messages sent by online daters can be likened to slot machine play in Vegas,” Bruch told the Times. “Little investment on the front end might pay out big on the back end — so why not opt for a chance at the biggest win?”

Ugh. Can we all just agree that dating apps are awful and also maybe men should learn to date within a reasonable age bracket/not be afraid of educated women? Please and thank you.

This article was originally published on