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Men 'Perform Best If Partner 6 Years Younger'

Wednesday, 29th August 2007, 00:25

Men perform best between the sheets if their partner is six years younger than them, new scientific research reveals.

And women will bear most children if their man is four years older, according to the study.

Scientists have shown for the first time that choosing mates by their age in order to yield most offspring works - for both men and women.

The study of 10,000 Swedish men and women is good news for celebrity beauty Cate Blanchett who said last year that she would rather go to bed with a man in his 60s than have sex with a toyboy who does not know what he is doing.

The 37-year-old actress, who is married to writer Andrew Upton, 42, cannot understand why some women - like brunette bombshell Demi Moore who, at 45, is 16 years older than husband Ashton Kutcher - want to date younger guys.

Instead, Blanchett would much rather get her hands on an older man who has more life experience - just like Catherine Zeta Jones although her husband Michael Douglas is a little outside the time zone recommended by anthropologist Dr Martin Fielder and colleagues.

The researchers have even managed to put an exact figure on the number of years there should be between each partner to get the best bedroom results.

Men perform best between the sheets if the female partner is six years younger - whereas women increase their baby count if the man is four years older.

The research, published online by the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, also found that after separation both men and women tend to shift to a partner younger than the first, albeit in women the new partner is still older than the female herself.

Dr Fielder, of the University of Vienna, said the highest level of reproductive success was found for men with partners about six years younger which, however, is considerably higher than the average age preference found across cultures a 2.66 years younger partner.

He said: "As men grow older, they prefer and actually mate with increasingly younger women."

In women, on the other hand, the observed optimum of an approximately four year older partner is only slightly higher than the average preference of 3.42 years. Correspondingly, in contrast to ageing men, women do not show a shift in their age preferences as they grow older.

Dr Fielder said women typically tend to select their mates based on their willingness and potential to protect and invest in herself and her offspring using criteria such as resources, financial prospect, status and physical appearance. Men primarily desire physically attractive partners.

In line with this preference, men usually mate with women younger than themselves; this pattern seems to be culturally universal, although the extent of the age difference between the partners varies and depends on the men's age.

Women, in contrast, who place more emphasis on the resources and status of their mates, typically mate with men older than themselves; again, this pattern appears to be culturally universal.

Dr Fielder said: "The age difference between the partners yielded a maximum offspring count for men, if the female partner was approximately 6 years younger than the male and for women if the male partner was approximately 4 years older than the female.

"These findings may account for the phenomenon that men typically prefer and mate with women younger than themselves, whereas women usually desire and mate with men older than themselves."

Dr Fielder said his research also found in individuals who change their partner between the birth of their first and last child, the partner at the time of the latter birth is significantly younger than the partner at the time of the former birth.

This holds true both for men and women - men shift to a much younger partner, women shift to a partner less old than the first.

Dr Fielder added: "These findings support the reported age preferences of ageing men for increasingly younger women as well as of women for a partner just a little older than themselves.

"We attribute the shift to a younger partner to a potential compensation for the fertility loss caused by the
individuals' increasing age to reduce the risk of declining couple fecundity.

"We conclude that the age preference for the partner increases individual fitness of both men and women and may thus be an evolutionarily acquired trait."

Copyright 2007 National News +44(0)207 684 3000
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30 Dec '99