Research finds sexual preference varies among men and women


Sexual Preferences

By Assistant Sports & Health Editor

JAN ANTFOLK, A postdoctoral researcher in the department of psychology and logopedics at Abo Akademi University in Finland, along with other researchers conducted a study published Sept. 19 that shed more light on sexual preference differences between men and women. 

The study surveyed more than 12,000 individuals in Finland and was part of a larger study to collect data about sexual behaviors, Antfolk said. While this survey only catalogs heterosexual behavior, she said the researchers intend to analyze behaviors among all sexual orientations in the future. 

Antfolk said the data revealed that women would rather have sex with men their age or older, and men sexually prefer women in their mid-20s. 

Antfolk said sexual preferences may have evolutionary roots because during prehistoric times women found older men to be better fixed in starting and raising families. 

“From an evolutionary point of view, one reason women might look for men their own age or just a few years older might have to do with the fact that in ancestral times, older men were a bit more likely to have access to necessary resources for investing in a child [and] helping the female,” Antfolk said. 

Sarah Olaniran, a sophomore dance major, said she prefer older men because they tend to be more mature. 

“I feel like if I were to have sex with a younger man, I [would feel] like it is just not right,” Olaniran said. “It is not comfortable and there is a sense of maturity that comes with these things.” 

Olaniran said she tends to look at all the characteristics of a man before engaging in sexual activity. 

“It depends [on] what tone of sex we are having,” she said. “Are we having sex just to have sex or are we having sex because we are in a relationship? It boils down to maturity. Am I with a mature man or with a immature kid?” 

Emotionally, men may be interested in women in their mid-20s because they are the most fertile, Antfolk said. Older men were the most common group to visualize fantasies but all men imagine about women from other age groups. 

“When men think [about] or imagine women, they tend to have some sort of preference for this age group,” Antfolk said. “[But] men are not always as choosy or picky about their partners, so if they cannot get exactly what they want the most, they are not going to refrain completely from sex.” 

Antfolk said the study challenges a widely held belief that behavior always follows individuals’ preferences and the result in this study demonstrates that this does not always happen. 

Michelle Herzog, psychotherapist at the Center for Mindful Living, said she thinks men express their desires more often than women because of set social norms. 

“I think that female sexuality is not something that we are very comfortable with yet as a society,” Herzog said. “I think women sometimes struggle with expressing their needs or desires for sex and there is a lot of pressure put on women to perform in a relationship. On the other hand, men can also feel pressure to perform [in regards to long-term relationships], and that may lead to their lack of desire or inability to perform.” 

Although sexual attraction plays a significant role in the decision to have sex, connection is the most important aspect for many people, which can trump age, Herzog said. 

“I see a lot of couples who have very large age differences between them,” Herzog said. “It really comes down to how you connect with someone. Age can be just a number [but] that does not mean everyone’s cup of tea is to be with someone who is 20 years older than them because you have to think about having things in common.” 

Although physical attraction is an important component, the more subtle aspects of a relationship also help determine the dynamic of a sexual relationship, Herzog said. 

“If you’re talking about the psychological perspective, there’s a lot that goes into that,” Herzog said. “There’s emotional connection. There’s a psychological connection .… There’s a want or a need or desire to be with someone you can grow with, who you can experience life with. To be quite honest, having that connection can enhance a sexual relationship much more than just that physical attraction.”