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‘When we ask men and women what aged partner they would prefer, men tend to say that they would like a female partner who is a few years younger and women tend to say that they would like a male partner who is a few years older.

This preference exists cross-culturally which suggests that it is nearly universal’.

Initially, Susan says, she resisted the idea of dating someone older than her because of the cliché factor. I can’t stand it…that recent thing with Brad Pitt being linked to Ella Purnell, who is 21 and looks exactly like a young Angelina Jolie made me furious.

‘I was so torn about this’ she says ‘I still am sometimes. It’s always the case in films, older men having their pick of younger women’.

Indeed, there is a definite imbalance when an older man dates a younger woman that, as a woman, it can be hard to shake.

This is something I struggled with when dating an older man, I couldn't help thinking about all of the women his own age he didn't have his shit together for and finding myself siding with them. He’s really fit but also, he’s got it together and his age probably helps with that. When he was ‘wooing’ me, he was quite straight up about it.

Professor Fugere points out that this phenomenon persists throughout our lives, as men age they prefer even younger partners while as women age they continue to prefer older partners until around the age of 70.

Is this what attracted her to him in the first place?Women are statistically more likely to marry men who resemble their fathers in hair colour and eye colour, and women with older parents may be more likely to marry older men.’ There it is, all roads lead to dad. ‘This is definitely an unconscious preference’ says Professor Fugere, ‘if women consciously realise that men resemble their fathers, they are less likely to find them attractive.However, based on the research I mentioned before, I believe that this preference is driven by both sexes…it just so happens that it is advantageous in terms of both sexes for younger women to be attracted to older men.’ Susan reflects on this.But, reservations aside, Susan fell for completely for Shaun. He just said ‘I fancy you do you wanna go for a drink or something’, so I said ‘yeah I fancy you as well’ and then went for drinks.Then he was like ‘what do you want to do because I know you are connected with another relationship.

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A young woman dating an older man is often romanticised but it can be very, very problematic too – take Lynn Barber’s story as told in An Education for instance.

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