Many Americans have engaged in age-gap dating

New Ipsos poll finds gender imbalances in what Americans find socially acceptable when dating

The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs
  • Charlie Rollason Senior Research Analyst
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Washington DC, May 31, 2022 

A new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Cougar Life finds that many American adults have engaged in age-gap dating — that is, have previously dated someone with an age difference of 10+ years. Additionally, a large majority of Americans believe it is socially acceptable for both men and women to date someone 10+ years younger than them. However, gender imbalances exist. The poll also explores the perceived benefits and challenges of age-gap dating.

Detailed Findings

1. A sizeable portion of American adults have engaged in age-gap dating.

  • Nearly four in ten (39%) have previously dated someone with an age difference of 10+ years.
  • Men are more likely to have dated someone 10+ years younger than them compared to women (25% vs. 14%). Meanwhile, women are more likely to have dated someone 10+ years older than them compared to men (28% vs. 21%).
  • Many single Americans are open to age-gap dating, with 57% saying they would be open to dating someone 10+ years older than them and 49% saying they would be open to dating someone 10+ years younger than them.
  • Unmarried Americans who are 35 years of age or older are more open than those under 35 to dating someone 10+ years younger than them.

2. Although a majority of Americans believe it is socially acceptable for both men and women to date someone 10+ years younger than them, gender imbalances exist.

  • Six in ten (60%) Americans believe it is acceptable for a woman to date someone 10+ years younger than her, while 71% believe it is acceptable for a man to date someone 10+ years younger than him.
    • Americans over the age of 35 are more likely than those under 35 to believe it is socially acceptable for a man to date someone 10+ years younger than him (75% vs. 60%).
  • Men are more likely than women (65% vs. 56%) to say it’s acceptable for a woman to date someone 10 or more years younger than her. However, there are no gender differences in perceptions of men dating younger, where 72% of men and 70% of women agree it’s socially acceptable.
  • A majority (55%) believe it’s more socially acceptable for a man to date someone 10+ years younger than him than it is for a woman to date someone 10+ years younger than her.Graphic data on social acceptability of age gap dating

3. Generally speaking, Americans see more benefits to age-gap dating than challenges.

  • Physical attractiveness (39%) and open-mindedness (37%) are the top perceived benefits of dating younger.
    • Men are more likely than women (46% vs. 33%) to list physical attractiveness as a benefit of dating younger.
  • Emotional maturity (55%) and financial freedom (44%) are the top perceived benefits of dating older.
  • Those that have been in an age-gap relationship before, or are single and open to one, are more likely to say all the items asked about are a benefit to dating both younger and older partners.
  • Americans cite not having anything in common (25%) as the top perceived barrier to age-gap dating. However, of the potential barriers asked about, nearly half (45%) said none of the above.
    • Concerns over what others will think decrease with age. Nearly a quarter (24%) of Americans ages 18-34 are afraid of what people might think of them if they engaged in age-gap dating, versus 14% of those ages 35-54 and 6% of those ages 55+.

4. Among women who have dated younger men and men who have dated older women, an organic connection is what most likely brought them together, while practical life decisions (such as marriage and kids) present the largest challenge.

  • Of the survey options given, the highest share (44%) of women who have dated younger men and men who have dated older women indicate that experiencing an organic connection with someone most influenced their decision to enter a relationship.
    • Second tier influences include living in the moment/focusing on having fun (27%) and improving their sex life (25%).
  • Of the items asked about, the top challenge for women who have dated younger men and men who have dated older women is wanting different things out of life (36%).

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 5-6, 2022. For this survey, a sample of 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents.

About the Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 5-6, 2022. For this survey, a sample of 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.

The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panelpartner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.  

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,005, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.3 percentage points).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mallory Newall

Vice President, US

Public Affairs

+1 202 374 2613

[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has been listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

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The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs
  • Charlie Rollason Senior Research Analyst

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