It’s something that you’ll probably have to deal with at some point or another in age gap dating, because not every man that comes your way is going to necessarily be one you want to keep around. But according to recent research, it’s easier said than done.
According to a study published in Psychological Science, you’d have no problem rejecting an unfavorable suitor in a hypothetical situation—like if someone just asked you what you would do if an older man asked you out—but you’d have a much harder time saying ‘no’ if that same older man actually asked you out in person.
In the study, participants were first asked to put together a dating profile for themselves. They were then given profiles belonging to supposed potential matches. Half of the group was told that their potential dates were sitting in the room next door, while the other half were told that their potential dates were not physically there, but to imagine meeting them in person. Every participant ended up receiving an unattractive suitor whom they believed was interested in meeting. Researchers found that participants were more likely to accept a date they didn’t really want from an unattractive match if they believed the person was really there, versus the group who had to just imagine the person was there. The same findings occurred when there was a mismatch based on other deal-breaking qualities, like a different religion or political view, rather than just physical attractiveness.
So, what does this mean for age gap dating? Well, it just goes to show that it’s going to be harder to reject an older man if he’s standing right in front of you, or even if you think you’re going to meet him for the first time. And it’s a safe assumption that a lot of women don’t even realize that they’re doing it.
It’s actually pretty interesting to see how much people subconsciously avoid trying to hurt someone’s feelings, but that can lead to some sticky age gap dating situations. “The fact that we underestimate how concerned we’ll feel about hurting the other person’s feelings may help to explain why people’s dating decisions often don’t match up with their stated dating preferences,” explained one of the researchers.
When it comes to age gap dating, at the end of the day it’s always better to be honest, and sooner rather than later. Yes, you might be inclined to accept a date with an older man that you’re not genuinely interested in because you want to spare his feelings, but at the end of the day, it’s only going to end up being miserable for both of you.
“Study finds that rejecting unsuitable suitors is easier said than done,” Medical Xpress web site, November 21, 2014; http://goo.gl/1eQ4kr.