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If we want to lose weight, we might forgo that dish of ice cream, even though we desire it," Buss says.
"Similarly, men who experience sexual desires for younger women when they are already married may choose to act or not to act on their desires.
If men are always programmed to find women in their mid-twenties attractive – if only to pass on their genes – doesn’t this deal a blow to the idea of monogamy?
"The key thing is that one has to separate sexual attraction for short-term mating and long term desires in a mate for a committed relationship," Buss says.
Older women too find younger guys sexually attractive.
So a 40-year-old woman might want to have sex with the pool boy, but she certainly would not want to marry him." It seems there’s a Hugh Hefner inside us all.
According to the rule, for example, a 30-year-old should be with a partner who is at least 22, while a 50-year-old’s dating partner must be at least 32 to not attract (presumed) social sanction. Does it match our scientific understanding of age-related preferences for dating? Researchers Buunk and colleagues (2000) asked men and women to identify the ages they would consider when evaluating someone for relationships of different levels of involvement.
People reported distinct age preferences for marriage; a serious relationship; falling in love; casual sex; and sexual fantasies. Based on the figures Buunk and colleagues (2000) provided (and thus the numbers are only informed approximations), I replotted their data superimposing the max and min age ranges defined by the half-your-age-plus-7 rule.
Which brings us back round to the caveman hypothesis.
Which begs the question: why are men so obsessed with twentysomething women? Buss is an Evolutionary Psychologist and author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating.