A man’s preference is influenced by whether he has children and wants to be a father in the future. Here’s how that affects choice.

On dating sites, childless men who dream of having children subconsciously favour younger, and therefore potentially more fertile, women, evolutionary psychologists from Lincoln University (UK) have found. But in women, a similar relationship between children and the age of their chosen partners has not been found. The researchers’ paper was published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.


Researchers analysed data relating to over 605,000 single heterosexual users of online dating apps between the ages of 20 and 50. Among other things, these men and women provided information about whether and how many children they had, whether they wanted to have more children or become parents in the future if they had no children yet, and the importance of potential partner’s age as a selection criterion.


The ‘children’ factor was found to have a significant impact on men’s preferences. Childless users who want to become fathers in the future pay more attention to the age of the partner and usually choose younger women. At the same time for men who already have children or do not want to become fathers, the age of the partner is not important.

For women, the presence or absence of offspring and dreams of future motherhood do not make them pay serious attention to a potential partner’s age.


As the researchers point out, these results are consistent with evolutionary theory that men and women are attracted to members of the opposite sex because they are invested in offspring differently.

Women expend physical resources when they nurture and breastfeed their children, while men are responsible for food and security. Therefore, men instinctively seek out young, healthy, fertile partners, while women pay little attention to their partner’s age, as they subconsciously value primarily the ability to provide them and their children with resources.