TIME relationships

15 Guys Explain Why They Date Women Over 30

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Tom Merton—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

Here's why older is better in some men's eyes

We’ve all heard the sobering statistics: given a choice, straight men of all ages would rather date women in their twenties. Women, on the other hand, prefer guys closer to their own age. In September, a study of 12,000 Finns reaffirmed what prior research had already established.

But there’s something fishy about all that data. If dudes were really so set on their caveman-era mating habits, wouldn’t we see more single ladies over 30 home knitting tea cozies on Friday nights? (Then again, just because a guy wants to date a younger girl, doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to date him!)

As a woman over 30, I decided to try to get to the bottom of this conundrum by asking a series of straight, unmarried men in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s to find out why some actually prefer to date “older” women. Turns out, there’s lots to love about women of a certain age.

Men in their 20s date women over 30 because:

“They understand better how to interact in a relationship.”
— José Fernández, 24 (single)

“I appreciate the grace and expression of slightly older women. Certain facial features, like smile lines, can be charming.”
— Niv, 25 (single)

“They know what they want. There is more of an end game. So if you meet their criteria, they’re good.”
— Billy, 27 (has a girlfriend)

“I think women in their 30s are in their prime. Sexual maturity, the way that they carry themselves — for me something about it screams woman.”
— Alex Sanza, 28 (single)

“They are more stable.”
— Solomon, 29 (just started seeing someone over 30)

While men in their 30s say:

“Generally more expert at the multisensory/theatrical aspects of the whole dance.”
— Anonymous, 30 (single)

“Much better sex”
— Anonymous, 32 (actively dating)

“When I was in my 20s, I was drawn to older women because it gave me a certain level of confidence because she was established. She’s not as needy.”
­— Peter Bailey, 34 (“not married”)

“More nurturing.”
— Percy Baldonado, 38 (single)

Men in their 40s add:

“Women over 30 have stopped putting metal through their lips and tongues which makes it easier to kiss them. And they’ve figured out their makeup routine so they won’t keep you waiting as long when you’re trying to get to an event.”
— Anonymous, 49 (seeing someone)

“Age has never really played a role in who I date … I have dated my own age, younger than me, and older. What it comes down to is, I like this girl, she’s cute, and I’d like to see her again.”
— Chris Dinneen, 41 (in a relationship)

“I always liked somewhat older women for their maturity, self confidence and poise, finding those qualities quite attractive and usually absent in younger girls.”
— Daren, 45 (in a long-term relationship)

And men in their 50s prefer women over 30 because:

“We have similar life experiences and similar pop culture references. It’s a little more comfortable.”
— David, 50 (seeing someone, not exclusive)

“Given that I’m 52, I can’t really relate to dating someone in her 20s — too much of an age difference.”
— Patrick, 52 (single)

TIME women

I’m Dating a Guy Almost 20 Years Younger Than I Am—And It’s Awesome

Christine Fitzgerald
Carlos Navarro/Photography by Navarro

So what?

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I’m 45. I’ve been through two unsuccessful marriages. I drive a red Camaro. I guess you can say I’m in the throes of a major midlife crisis. I’ve been checking a lot of things off of my bucket list. One of them was to try my hand at stand-up comedy. The first thing you learn in Stand-up 101 is “write what you know.” I’ve had a lot of life experiences one could label as interesting, but my current dating situation is certainly fodder for comedy — and maybe it shouldn’t be.

In my act, I start by addressing my age, my failed marriages, and the fact that I’m constantly at the hair salon and Ulta. As Dolly Parton once famously quipped, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” Because of all of this, I’m constantly called the “c-word” — that “c-word” being “cougar.” I do really hate that word. But, when you’re dating someone almost 19 years younger than you are, the association is inevitably going to happen.

So, how did I end up in this situation? Well, since my divorce, my experiences in the online dating world have been pretty disastrous, to say the least. Every time I gave OKCupid a try, I specified my desired age range for a mate to be between 35 and 55 years old — and I’d get constantly barraged with messages from enthusiastic young 20-somethings looking to be my “cub.” The perception that I’m (supposedly) at my sexual peak seemed to be the prime motivation for these boys to reach out to me. Not that it was very different from the responses I got from men my age — they were just far less eager and often downright aloof.

One guy I dated on and off I dubbed “Copperfield” (as in magician David Copperfield), as he’d disappear for weeks at a time between dates. I also had more than one man my age ask if I’d like to enter into a “friends with benefits” arrangement. No thanks. My prospects were drying up rapidly and I was getting increasingly discouraged.

I was still poking around on Tinder and Match when my best girlfriend told me about a guy. I have always been a big fan of stand-up comics. I dated one when I was in my early 20s and he’s still one of my best friends. When my BFF told me the guy was a comedian and then sent me his picture, I was immediately interested. He did look a bit younger than I was (he has what can best be described as a baby face). I asked my friend how old he was, to which she replied, “He’s in his early 30s.” Both of my husbands were a few years younger than I was, but I had never been with someone more than 10 years my junior. I had been on a few dates with 30-somethings, but nothing really came of those.

He and I met soon after and were instantly attracted. It took us a few months to actually start dating — I was still trying to make it work with guys my own age and he had other pursuits for a while as well. I was honestly hesitant at the start — what was I going to tell my family? I broached the topic first with my aunt/godmother. She’s younger than my mom (she’s the one who introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll, so I figured she’d be as good a jumping-off point as any). I told her what the situation was and she helpfully boiled it down for me. She asked me, “Are you happy?” I said, “Yes I am.” She countered with “Well, that’s all that matters.”

I still haven’t told my folks, but I suspect my mom has figured it out. I’m okay with not having to discuss it further for the time being.

There are some “cultural” differences that occur when you’re dating a younger guy. I was a junior in college when he was born. He’s never seen “Raising Arizona,” but he loves Bob Dylan and Jim Croce. He still thinks farts are a little too funny. He describes himself as an “old soul.” I’ve taken him to social gatherings where he was one of the youngest adults there, and, thanks to his amazing sense of humor and the fact that he performs on stage in front of hundreds of strangers a week, he’s blended in with flying colors.

So, we’re making a go at it. The age thing doesn’t really bother me. In reality, I am old enough to technically be his mother, but I still don’t care. I get the occasional look — especially when we go out for drinks and get carded (hey, at least I’m still getting carded). And I’m pretty sure more than one person thought that, with our similar hair, skin and eye colors, that we were either brother and really older sister or mom and son, but the pros far outweigh the cons in our relationship.

We have fun together. He’s turned me on to some new music and I’ve introduced him to some “classic” movies (if you consider “Better Off Dead” a classic movie, which you really should). He’s an amazing cook. He sends me a text or Facebook message every day. He gives great hugs. He really loves me. That’s all I need.

I know I’m still going to have to defend my decision to a lot of people — and I’m ready to do so. You only have one life and it’s really short. I want to see where this goes for a while. I want to be happy. Until I’m no longer happy in this relationship (if that even happens), I’m going to enjoy every moment.

You know, I could go on and on about the whole double standard thing, but you and I both know that’s not going to change anytime soon and I feel like talking about it is just a waste of breath. I just thought that sharing my story might help shatter the stereotype of the “c-word.” The moral of the story: Be with whomever makes you happy. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks. I sure don’t.

Christine Fitzgerald is a marketer, celebrity journalist and contributing editor to Socialite Life.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Dating

Men of All Ages Want Women in Their Mid-20s, Study Says

Couple holding hands while riding bicycles
Cavan Images—Getty Images

Whereas women tend to prefer men of the same age or slightly older

Straight men of all ages tend to have their romantic sights set on women in their mid-twenties, while women prefer men who are about the same age as they are, according to a new study.

The survey out Friday, financed by the government-backed research funding group Academy of Finland, gathered data on 12,000 Finns and found that women, on average, are looking for partners who are about their age or slightly older. But men across the age spectrum have a sexual preference for women in their mid-20s. This remains true for men of all ages—men in their early-20s or younger are attracted to women older than themselves and older men are attracted to younger women.

The findings are similar to data culled from the dating website OKCupid, which found that male users of the site of all ages, by far, are looking for women in their early-20s.

TIME Dating

18 Reasons It’s Great to Be Single (According to People In Relationships)

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Digital Vision.—Getty Images

And single people give a bunch more

Being single is rad and always has been. So rad, in fact, that single people now represent a majority of the U.S. population. One in four Millennials say they don’t ever plan on getting married.

Single people are so comfortably in the mainstream that the whole idea of making time to celebrate Singles Week—that’s this week—is beginning to feel a little weird.

[Note: I’m ignoring the very real structural inequalities levied against single people, helpfully outlined in this post by Bella DePaulo, because that’s not my point here but by all means if anyone wants to launch a singles revolution let me know. I’m always down to Fight The Power.]

Anyway, in celebration of this ridiculous holiday we compiled two lists, both about the same thing: what’s great about being single. One list comes from single people themselves, the other list from people in relationships. The entries have been lightly edited where necessary but reproduced as faithfully as possible.

A number of responses, particularly from people in relationships, reflected the mistaken notion that single people are happily filthy and frumpy looking all the time. (e.g.“You don’t have to impress anyone.”) Since being single in no way diminishes the libido and the art of seduction often depends, at a bare minimum, on at least passable hygiene, we can dispense with that whole line of thought outright. Other responses, again perhaps unsurprisingly mostly from the coupled, were splendidly optimistic (e.g. “You can make out with anyone you want anytime you want.”)

If indeed the world is that much your oyster then by all means, Casanova, carry on. Sadly most of us don’t have that kind of game, so I’ve eliminated most such responses as well.

SINGLE PEOPLE on the Benefits of Singledom

“You will never in your single life be told how much ice cream is too much by your non-existent partner. Never. Not even once.”

“No guilt flirting.”

“If you like to travel you travel. That’s pretty much the beginning and the end of that entire discussion.”

“I don’t have to say hello to anyone when I get home.”

“You stay culturally relevant. So many people have never experienced the joy that is Tinder.”

“You don’t have to go to work events with your significant other where you know nobody and where there’s never enough alcohol.”

“If you’re tall you don’t have to worry about whether you should wear high heels out, how high those heels are before you’re taller than the guy, and whether that’s emasculating.”

“You can’t be cheated on.”

“Life can be one big weird sexual walkabout if you want it to be.”

“If you have a food allergy, you don’t have to worry about whether he’s ordering things with nuts.”

“Girlfriends are net generators of grief. They may start out easygoing, carefree, accommodating, but eventually the grief will start”

“Having hilarious/horrifying dating stories with which to entertain your friends.”

“The adventure of not knowing how your Saturday night will end. “

“I have an ex who, feeling disgruntled one evening, and to be fair had reason to be, leveled my herb garden and left me in the morning.”

“You can listen to the same Leonard Cohen album over and over for the entire winter without anyone yelling at you.”

[Divorced] “Career and big life decision flexibility. Doing whatever the hell you want to excess. $$$”

“You can wear lipstick all the time.”

“Fewer people have an incentive to lie to you.”

“Less likely you will get pregnant on purpose with a partner you will be yoked to for 18 years despite them revealing themselves as a terrible person.”

“Getting to know yourself and your habits.”

“Independence. Dating. Having sex with EVERYONE.”

“Going to the movies and never having to worry about finding two seats together.”

[Widowed] “Learning to forgive and live again.”

“Singing and talking to my dog.”

“Best/Worst: eating for one.”

“Not clearing your browser history.”

“Never having to leave a place until I [explicative] feel like it and never having to go to a place unless I [explicative] feel like it and doing whatever the [explicative] I want at all the time.”

“Masturbation Marathons!!!”

 

COUPLED PEOPLE on the Benefits of Singledom

“You never have to see a movie with Liam Neeson in it.”

“You can binge watch an entire series in one weekend without committing Netflix infidelity.”

“You only have to deal with your own parents and their crazy.”

“Do you know how embarrassing it is to watch Friday Night Lights from start to finish for the second or third time and have your husband witness that?”

“You can engage in gross single behaviors like plucking your eyebrows without judgment.”

“You don’t have to regularly shower in a place where the shower bottom is blackened with filth because your boyfriend’s roommates are freegan cavemen.”

“One time one of my boyfriend’s friends peed in my rain boot.”

“Watching TV on the couch for 8 hours at a time.”

“NO IN LAWS.”

“Farting.”

“You don’t have to hang art on your walls that you hate with a burning passion because a) one of your in-laws painted it or b) your husband loves hockey and thinks that hockey posters are ‘art.’”

“Every time you stay late at work or are in a bad depressive mood you don’t have to worry about ‘What this is doing to my marriage?’ Your ‘marriage’ becomes like this third person you have to nurture. And it is exhausting.”

“You never get home from work desperate for a snack only to find that last night’s leftovers were already somebody else’s lunch.”

“You’re wrong a lot less often.”

[FORMER SMOKER WITH BOYFRIEND OUT OF TOWN] “I sat out on my balcony on this epic fall morning with my dog, sipped my espresso and smoked a cigarette. Quite possibly the best morning ever.”

“Laundry for one.”

“Breathing sweet, clean air.”

“She’s referring to my farting, which happens. I think losing time freedom is the biggest downfall in a relationship but it only applies if you haven’t found the right person. You only have so many hours on earth.”

TIME society

30 Is the New 50: Old Age Is Killing My Dating Life

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Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

My career successes, my triumphs as a human being, are trumped by the fact my looks—and my ovaries—have a shelf life

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

“You know,” he says. “It’s tough for people our age.”

It’s 1 a.m. on a Monday, and I am currently on the phone having an argument with a guy I’d been on only four dates with, three of them good. One of them—the last—was less good, given he had gone MIA for the better part of three weeks and I had a sneaking suspicion he had a girlfriend.

We hadn’t slept together, but the kisses had been the type of kisses you walk away from with shaky knees and blind hope. There was something there, and we both knew it, which is why we were attempting to hash things out over the phone at some ungodly hour. Because at our age, we’re adults, and things matter more. The mistakes leave marks.

Alex is 38. I’m 30. Technically, there are no “people our age.” But I’m starting to feel that a 30-year-old woman might as well be a 40-year-old man, though infinitely less desirable, culturally speaking.

At 40, a man is well into hitting his stride, something the guy I’m arguing with is all too aware of, as evidenced when he professes on multiple occasions, “I’m an amazing guy.” “We’re killing it. KILLING IT,” he tells me, while explaining that he’s been caught up in his rapidly expanding architecture firm.

Alex sees his stock rising. For a man, age brings success, wisdom and the Hollywood-approved wrinkles of Robert Redford. And, while I too find that my career is on the up, it doesn’t matter, because time, for a woman, is hardly as kind as it is to a man. My career successes, my triumphs as a human being, are trumped by the fact that my looks—and my ovaries—have a shelf life. Biology and Sociology 101.

Interestingly enough, Alex and I, with nearly a decade between us, are two people on the same page in terms of what we are looking for in a relationship. In New York, men approaching their 40s begin to feel the weight of time more acutely, something women are confronted with the moment they start their first period. While boys are still sitting in the school parking lot burping up Cokes and Doritos, young girls are in some ways exposed to the long, faint shadow of their mortality, a life defined by precise timing and narrow windows—girlhood and fertility immediately presented to you as finite and limited. Everything has its end.

Men, on the other hand, start to engage with their bodies only decades later, when something goes wrong. A slow-healing broken arm, a herniated disc, high blood pressure: These are the wake-up calls, when aging men begin to wrestle with the thought of impending death, or at least not wanting to be an old dad. Overnight, their biological clocks start ticking. They want kids. They want a partner. Their timer has gone off. DING DING DING.

After decades after messing around, they’re ready to settle down. Which is precisely where Alex was at about a year ago with his ex-fiancée, who—kudos to Alex—was four years his senior and under the crushing pressure of having kids right away, lest the opportunity pass them by altogether—or, more precisely, pass her by. Alex couldn’t handle the idea of having kids right away and broke it off, because he had the luxury his fiancée did not: namely, time. And the ability to eventually, when he was ready, find someone 15 years younger to have children with.

Which brings us to the point when he finally—after nearly an hour on the phone explaining that he’s been so hot and cold because he’s too busy with work, because he’s very into expanding his business, because he’s shy—admits he’s been seeing some 20-something girl named Anouk for the past few months.

This, by the way, follows this part of the conversation by about 20 minutes:

Alex: Well, what do you want?

Me: I want to love someone and I want them to love me.

Alex: You? You think you’re lovable? You think someone can fall in love with you? You’re so guarded. How can anyone fall in love with someone so guarded?

Alex, of course, self-professed amazing person that he is, is not very well versed in Newton’s Third Law and its role in relationship physics. I was guarded because he did things that made me sense he had a girlfriend. Which he did. But that’s not his fault. Because Alex the Architect is amazing!

As though any amount of talking is going to make this better, Alex continues to tell me about Anouk, who doesn’t mind his going on dates with other women because he “doesn’t love her,” and who he is dating precisely because she’s not looking for anything at all.

It’s this logic that has most of my 30-something guy friends dating girls fresh out of college. Girls who, in my experience, are less impressive, less striving, less volatile, less successful, less intimidating, less questioning, less pressing, less complex, less damaged, less opinionated, less powerful, less womanly. They are less, and, to a guy not ready for anything—like most of the guys I have dated in New York—less is more.

A 30-year-old woman is an undertaking, and it’s the real reason Alex has been putting me on the back burner for the past two months, telling me that I’m amazing and that he’s interested and then disappearing to hang out with a 23-year-old instead. Age ain’t nothing but a number, until it’s a number someone else doesn’t want to deal with.

Jenny Bahn is a writer and editor (and former model) living in a yet-to-be-ruined part of Brooklyn. You can find her work on V Magazine, CR, The Style Con, Lady Clever, Harry’s, and, of course, on xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME relationships

5 Strange But Effective Ways to Get Over a Breakup

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Getty Images

This list of breakup rituals will entertain and inspire

This post originally appeared on Refinery 29.

Beware those weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s when breakups skyrocket. As we’re reaching the tail end of this precarious season, some of us undoubtedly are finding ourselves casualties of the trend. But, fear not. We bring you stories from women who worked through their breakups, well, just a little differently than most.

From upping your workout schedule to taking an exotic vacation, there are many ways to deal. That being said, some breakup rituals are a little more extreme and unique than others. Sometimes it hurts so bad that a run on the treadmill or that brand-new-you hairstyle just won’t cut it and you find yourself doing the strangest things to get your mind off of “he or she who shall not be named.” But, hey, whatever works.

For those of you going through a breakup right now, whether you need a good giggle, a little comfort knowing you aren’t the only one behaving a bit out of sorts, or new ideas to help you move on, this list of breakup rituals will entertain and inspire. We found five women with some unusual reactions to exiting their relationships and got the down-low on what it takes to really move on.

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Get New Sheets

Alexis, 24, strips after her breakups. No, we don’t mean she picks up pole-dancing classes (although that would be awesome). She strips her bed. “I can’t bear the thought that he had slept in these sheets, so out they go, and in I go to Bed Bath & Beyond for new ones.” When it’s a particularly bad breakup, she’ll go so far as to get a new mattress. So, in the last four years, she’s replaced two of them — and not because they had lost their bounce. Sounds expensive, but it works. And, it’s very sanitary.

(MORE: What I Learned When My Boyfriend Cheated On Me)

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Scrub The Floors

For Callie, 32, breakups are really good for her apartment. “I put my focus in the floors. I get down on my hands and knees and scrub every last inch of floor until I’ve forgotten about him, or until the floor sparkles, whichever comes first.” She finds focusing on something really specific helps take her mind off of her ex. Also, setting a basic goal for herself that she knows she can achieve boosts her self-esteem when the task is done. Next time she’s looking to work out some relationship woes, our floors are available to clean…er…we mean…our shoulders are available to cry on.

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Read The News

Facebook sure knows how to rub a breakup in your face. During her recovery, Megan, 30, did the usual unfriending and blocking, but that wasn’t enough. Like many of us, Megan was a little bit addicted to scrolling through her Facebook News Feed, but post-breakup, this habit became truly painful. All she saw were happy couples and their posts felt like salt in her wounds. But, she couldn’t kick her scrolling addiction, so she turned to another media outlet: CNN. To keep her fingers happy, she would scroll through the news stories just as she would her News Feed and get her fill of information. The difference was this information was actually useful and important (no offense, all you newly engaged or expectant couples). “It was weird, but I found myself reading the news all the time, which I never did before. That time of my day was usually spent Facebook stalking. It was much easier for me to read about unromantic and often terrible things going on in the world than it was to see happy people in Facebook land. It was a welcome distraction.”

(MORE: The Ultimate Post-Breakup Hotness Manual)

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Get Lost

A vacation or adventure can mend a broken heart in no time. After a breakup, writer Ana, 29, goes anywhere new — whether it’s a foreign country or a new neighborhood around the block — and just gets lost. She doesn’t look at her phone, doesn’t ask for directions; she just wanders until she feels cleansed. It serves as a distraction from what is going on back at home and also reminds her that there is more out there, an entire world, in fact. “When dealing with a breakup, I want to be somewhere where no one knows who I am, who he is, and, especially, who ‘we’ were,” says Ana. This method sounds so foolproof that we have a feeling she might not only come home totally over her ex, but perhaps with a new paramour she picked up along her travels?

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Watch Scary Movies

What’s the perfect cure for a bad breakup? A night in with movies, ice cream, and wine, of course. But, Maria, 26, couldn’t watch just any old movie. While it is smart (for obvious, tear-inducing reasons) to avoid rom-coms after a breakup, Maria didn’t stop there. She couldn’t bear to watch any semblance of romance and happiness, so she turned to the polar opposite: guts and gore. “I didn’t care for them before but I became somewhat of a scary-movie fanatic.” When those weren’t available, she turned to Lifetime thrillers or Law and Order. Months later, she’s successfully over him and back on regular movies. However, horror flicks will always hold a special place in her heart. Next time you need a distraction from a breakup, Maria recommends The Village.

(MORE: The Best Movies For Getting Over Your Ex)

TIME Books

9 Ugly Lessons About Sex From Big Data

Dataclysm
Courtesy Random House Dataclysm

Christian Rudder, author of Dataclysm and a founder of OkCupid, dives into the numbers and surfaces with some revelations on love, sex, race and culture

Big Data: the friend you met at a bar after your usual two drinks, plus one. You leaned in, listening more intently than usual. “Digital footprint.” “Information Age.” You nodded and smiled, even though you didn’t understand. “Change the world.” “The future.” You were impressed—and even if you weren’t, you faked it well.

Come morning, you have only fuzzy recollections of Big Data, its tag lines and buzzwords. You also find it vaguely reprehensible.

If you’re still up for it, there’s another side of Big Data you haven’t seen—not the one that promised to use our digital world to our advantage to optimize, monetize, or systematize every last part our lives. It’s the big data that rears its ugly head and tells us what we don’t want to know. And that, as Christian Rudder demonstrates in his new book, Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), is perhaps an equally worthwhile pursuit. Before we heighten the human experience, we should understand it first.

Rudder, a co-founder of OkCupid and Harvard-educated data scientist, analyzed millions of records and drew on related research to understand on how we search and scramble for love. But the allure of Rudder’s work isn’t that the findings are particularly shocking. Instead, the insights are ones that most of us would prefer not to think about: a racial bias against black women and Asian men, or how “gay” is the top Google Search suggestion for “Is my husband… .”

READ MORE This App Can Tell If You’ve Been Naughty or Nice Based on Your Tweets

Here are 9 revelations about sex and dating, courtesy of Rudder, Dataclysm, and, of course, big data.

1. Straight men think women have an expiration date.

Although women tend to seek men around their age, men of all ages are by far looking for women in their early 20s, according to OkCupid data. While men often set their age filters for women into the 30s and beyond, rarely do they contact a woman over 29.

2. Straight women are far less likely to express sexual desire than are other demographics.

On OkCupid, 6.1% of straight men are explicitly looking for casual sex. For gay men, it’s 6.9%, and for lesbians, 6.9%. For straight women, it’s only 0.8%.

3. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Like any good data scientist, Rudder lets literature—in this case, Thoreau—explain the human condition. Rudder cites a Google engineer who found that searches for “depictions of gay men” (by which the engineer meant gay porn) occur at the rate of 5% across every state, roughly the proportion of the world’s population that social scientists have estimated to be gay. So if a poll shows you that, for instance, 1% of a state’s population is gay, the other 4% is probably still out there.

READ MORE These 4 Things Kill Relationships

4. Searches for “Is my husband gay?” occur in states where gay marriage is least accepted.

Here’s a Big Data nugget you can see for yourself: Type “Is my husband” in Google, and look at your first result. Rudder notes that this search is most common in South Carolina and Louisiana, two states with some of the lowest same-sex marriage approval rates.

5. According to Rudder’s research, Asian men are the least desirable racial group to women…

On OkCupid, users can rate each other on a 1 to 5 scale. While Asian women are more likely to give Asian men higher ratings, women of other races—black, Latina, white—give Asian men a rating between 1 and 2 stars less than what they usually rate men. Black and Latin men face similar discrimination from women of different respective races, while white men’s ratings remain mostly high among women of all races.

6. …And black women are the least desirable racial group to men.

Pretty much the same story. Asian, Latin and white men tend to give black women 1 to 1.5 stars less, while black men’s ratings of black women are more consistent with their ratings of all races of women. But women who are Asian and Latina receive higher ratings from all men—in some cases, even more so than white women.

7. Users who send copy-and-paste messages get responses more efficiently.

OkCupid tracks how many characters users type in messages versus how many letters are actually sent. (For most users, it’s three characters typed for every one character sent.) In doing this analysis, Rudder found that up to 20% of users managed to send thousands of characters with 5 keystrokes or less—likely Control+C, Control+V, Enter. A little more digging showed that while from-scratch messages performed better by 25%, copy-and-paste messages received more replies per unit of effort.

READ MORE 10 Rules You Need to Know to Communicate Effectively

8. Your Facebook Likes reveal can reveal your gender, race, sexuality and political views.

A group of UK researchers found that based on someone’s Facebook Likes alone, they can tell if a user is gay or straight with 88% accuracy; lesbian or straight, 75%; white or black, 95%; man or woman, 93%; Democrat or Republican, 85%.

9. Vermont doesn’t shower a whole lot, relatively speaking.

Rudder has doled out some heavy info to ponder, so here’s some that’s a little lighter: in general, according to his research, in states where it’s hotter, people shower more; where it’s colder, people shower less. Still, the Northeast is relatively well-washed. Except, that is, for Vermont. Rudder has no idea why. Do you?

 

Rudder has a few takeaways from beyond the realm of love, too…

— On an insignificant July morning, Mitt Romney gained 20,000 Twitter followers within a few minutes.

Rudder dives further into social media data to show that Mitt Romney gained 18,860 new followers at 8 a.m. on July 22, 2012. Nothing particularly interesting happened on that day, and that spike in followers was about 200 times what he was getting immediately before and after. The secret? Likely purchasing followers. And Romney isn’t the only politician to do so—it’s a common practice, Rudder says, as we seek to strengthen our “personal brands.”

— Obama’s election and inauguration caused a massive spike in Google searches for “n-gger.”

According to Google Search data, search volume for “n-gger” more than doubled when Obama was elected in Nov. 2008, then fell rapidly within one month. When Obama was inaugurated in Jan. 2009, it similarly spiked, and then immediately fell. We don’t have national conversations on race, Rudder suggests, just national convulsions.

TIME Dating

Women Seek Fall Boyfriends in Perfect Craigslist Ad

Activities include "Sunday Fundays"

Based on the theory that every fall activity is done better in pairs — apple picking, watching football, coordinating Halloween costumes — two women posted a joke ad on Craigslist about their search for ‘fall boyfriends.’ Because what better way to find the perfect guy whose sweater you can steal in the chilly weather? The two women told BuzzFeed that the post is indeed a parody, “unless [they] find love, and then it’s for real.”

Good luck, ladies! Here’s the entire ad:

Needed: Fall Boyfriends – 27 (Manhattan)

Seeking Fall Boyfriends

2 smart, funny, attractive girls each looking for a fall boyfriend with chill group of bro friends, now is the time you must start dating someone in order to spend the holidays together/go on ski trips/have a NYE kiss you’re stoked on.

Labor Day has happened, we are saying goodbye and filtering out our casual summer, meet up at 2 a.m. hook ups and are looking for boys we might be able to stand being sober around.

Needed: 2 males interested in something steady/serious-ish as the weather fades from hot, humid, and care-free to crisp, chill Patagonia vest season. Interested parties should have a window in their bedroom and want to cuddle with the window slightly open to let the fresh autumn air in while a fall scented candle (that I’ll buy for you, babe) fills the room with cozy comfort.

Requirements

Chill group of guy friends (preference will be given to bros who come from the same group of friends, just because that makes it easier and more fun for double date brunching)
27 and older
6 feet or taller (if you’re 5’11” but have a personality to make up for the height difference, willing to consider it. Any shorter? Don’t apply.)
Wardrobe should include: Driving mocs, Barbour coat, Half-Zips (at least 3, please send pics if possible), Ray-Bans (Wayfarers or Clubmastesr preferred, but open to other styles), loafers, Patagonia vest(s), Vineyard Vines, basketball shorts for me to sleep in
College education. Ivy league preferred. Def in a frat or played a sport (lacrosse, crew, tennis, etc.)
Probs spent at least 4 weekends in Montauk over the summer

Activities can include but are not limited to

Apple Picking
Sunday Fundays
Borrowing your pullover and returning it after an indecent amount of time, if at all
Taking selfies in Patagonia vests/taking selfies while doing all activities #fall #boyfriendweather
Watching football (aka me getting drunk while you watch football, and you thinking it’s so adorable when I wear jeans and Converse to the bar and get blackout in your team’s hat.) *sneakers show how chill and laid back I am < this is why it’s kinda essential for the two boys to be friends so me and my friend can blackout together and I won’t get bored.
Cooking – Instagramming dish with captions such as “Fall night with my babe @yourhandle *heart emoji all the fall emojis*”
Brunching outdoors until weather permits

Strange how the night moves, with autumn closing in
(If you don’t know that song, don’t apply)

Looking forward to meeting you!

TIME women

A Veteran Campaigner Reflects on 20 Years of Fighting Domestic Abuse

Teen Dating Violence Panel
Kris Connor—Getty Images Esta Soler speaks during the Teen Dating Violence panel at the Rayburn House Office Building on February 28, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Esta Soler, who advocated for the Violence Against Women Act to become law in 1994, talks to TIME about the NFL, rape culture, and how to tackle abuse

Esta Soler, a veteran crusader in the fight to protect women and children from domestic violence, has a saying that “movements are made of moments.” One such moment came 20 years ago, when the media firestorm surrounding the OJ Simpson murder case lent urgency to Congress’s efforts to pass the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. And now, as the U.S. prepares to commemorate two decades since the VAWA’s historic passage, so it is again. At least, so the president of nonprofit Futures Without Violence hopes.

Over 30 years ago, Soler, a leading expert in violence prevention, founded the San-Francisco based organization the Family Violence Project (later renamed Futures Without Violence), which was one of the driving forces behind the passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Over the years, the organization has led educational efforts, worked with lawmakers, and trained law enforcement on how to better address the issue of domestic abuse. On Tuesday, Soler joined Vice President Biden and many others in commemorating the work that has been done since the VAWA’s passage in 1994.

But the fact that the day’s headlines have been dominated by the dismissal of running back Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens for knocking his now-wife unconscious strikes Soler as moment to reflect on unfinished business. “We’re celebrating 20 years since the passage of the act,” Soler tells TIME. “And a lot of good has happened in that time. But this is a stark reminder of how much we still need to do.”

Much has changed in the 20 years since the Violence Against Women Act became law, with incidences of domestic abuse becoming markedly less frequent. Between 1993 and 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence declined by 67%, according to a White House fact sheet. The rate of women being murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents has also fallen, by 26% between 1996 and 2012, according to a new report from the Violence Policy Center.

That’s partly because there’s a new openness among women and men to address incidences of violence at home. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has received over 3 million calls since 1996, and 92% of callers admit it’s their first call for help. In the late 80s and early 90s, when Soler was working to launch a nationwide campaign using the slogan there’s “no excuse” for abuse, “domestic violence was called a domestic dispute,” she says. “People just excused the behavior.” Passing VAWA, she says, “was a statement that this country and our policymakers were taking the issue of violence against women seriously… For me, that was the main victory.”

But Soler knows there’s work still to be done. For proof, she needn’t look much further than the initial response of the National Football League to Rice’s beating of his wife. Though the running back was released by the Baltimore Ravens following the video leak, he initially received a two-game suspension—a softer punishment than players who have violated drug policies have received. And while two players, the Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy and the San Francisco 49ers Ray McDonald have been arrested (and in Hardy’s case, convicted) for domestic violence, both joined their teams on the field last Sunday.

The movement to continue the fight to protect women and children from violence—and more importantly, keep it from happening in the first place—may have found another moment, Soler says. But it’s not enough to be reactive about such incidents. “While it’s important that we have a strong response system in place once something horrible happens, on the other hand it is not just ok for us to wait for something to happen,” says Soler. “We need to figure out more effectively how to stop this. And be super aggressive about that.”

In an interview with TIME ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which is coming up on Sept. 13, Soler laid out 6 things the nation can do right now to address the issue.

Confront College Sexual Assault

“I’m an optimist, and I do believe that violence is learned and you can unlearn it. The fact that we’ve been able to have a real impact on the problem [of domestic abuse] is really significant. The moment today is the crisis we now find ourselves facing on our college campuses. There’s an epidemic of sexual assault on our college campuses. The movement about what is happening is the activism—the student activists of today that are grappling with this problem. Demanding action, demanding better responses to cases once they happen. But also not waiting for a rape to happen. That’s what we need to do now with the Violence Against Women Act, really extending to a programmatic response so that our college campuses are safe.

Bring Young People into the Equation

The Violence Against Women Act and a lot of the work that we’ve done has focused on adults. We need to do a better job for our young people. Most of what we’ve done over the last 25 years is building shelters and rape crisis centers and changing the way our law enforcement and our judiciary responds to these issues, but at the end of the day we’ve got to start much earlier. We’ve got to start with our middle school and our high school kids and give them the tools so that they can have healthy relationships, so that they can go to college and not worry about the fear that they’re going to get raped or sexually abused. And we have to heal our kids. So many kids are still growing up in homes and neighborhoods where they’re seeing violence. You learn violence; it becomes a pattern. We have to interrupt it.

Stand Up to Rape Culture

There’s a crisis of social norms that’s allowing this really bad behavior to exist, but I am somebody who really believes that a cultural norm—if it’s addressed appropriately and comprehensively—can be shifted. There are programs out there that work and we need to make sure that every campus has it. That people understand what consent is. That people understand that it’s not ok no matter what state anyone is in to do this—that the behavior is bad. We have to reintroduce that. We have to take the rape culture down, and I think we can do it. But we can’t do it by having one 15-minute session during orientation week on the first week somebody arrives on college campus. That doesn’t work.

Bring Men into the Conversation

We’ve been a driver of bringing men into this conversation, starting in the late ’90s. After doing some market research, we realized that when we talked to men, men felt divided and not guided into our conversations. The language we used was basically saying you’re either a perpetrator or a perpetrator in waiting as opposed to somebody who is not and also wants to do something right about this. So that’s when we created a national campaign called “coaching into men,” that ended up being a program later that showed conversation men could have with their sons and their daughters about the issue. In partnership with the National High School Athletic Coaches Association we created a program to really deal with the culture of bad relationships, but more importantly find ways to give young men the tools to create healthy relationships. So that when they see something bad they feel that they have the power and the strength to say, stop it. It’s not ok.

Hold Sports Organizations Accountable

It’s important that, like every workforce, every institution that has these problems [be it] the NFL [or] the NBA, grapples with the problem of violence against women in a highly responsible way. Players are seen as role models for the next generation. Our athletes are revered in our society and it’s really important that we give them the tools so that they don’t get in trouble. At this point I think the athletic associations are really grappling with these issues, particularly with the recent incident with Ray Rice and the NFL. The NFL needs a comprehensive program to address violence.

Keep Talking About It

Before the 1980s, we did a count. There were about 150 articles in major newspapers about the issue of domestic violence. In the decades of the 2000s, there were over 7,000. Yes, there are challenges—there are always going to be challenges—but we have support in so many different corners where people are actually trying to figure out how to deal with this. The story isn’t buried somewhere, it’s on the front page. Schools are talking about it. Congress is addressing it. The White House is acting on it. At the end of the day, this isn’t just about what government does. Governmental actions are critical, but you need the private sector and private persons to really push things through.

 

 

TIME Crime

1 in 5 U.S. Women Are Raped at Some Point, Report Says

woman silo
Getty Images

The majority experience sexual violence before age 25

About 1 in 5 women in the U.S. is raped during their life, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And another 40% experience another form of sexual violence.

“Although progress has been made in efforts to prevent sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence, these forms of violence continue to exact a substantial toll upon U.S. adults,” the CDC study said.

The problem of sexual violence is particularly acute at younger ages. More than half of female victims said they were violated before they reached age 25. This finding is consistent with a UNICEF report released Thursday that suggests that 1 in 10 girls worldwide is raped before age 20.

The CDC recommended a number of steps to combat sexual violence, including trying to change societal expectations and promoting safe relationships.

“The early promotion of healthy relationships while behaviors are still relatively modifiable makes it more likely that young persons can avoid violence in their relationships,” the report said.

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