By MEGHAN ROTHMAN | 04/28/17 09:56:18 A new study finds that if men are in their 30s or 40s, they’re more likely to become the object of women’s unwanted attentions than if they’re in their 20s or 30s.
Researchers from the University of California-Davis and the University in Colorado-Boulder, as well as researchers from other institutions in the United States and abroad, analyzed more than 1,200 online dating profiles dating from 2008 to 2016.
They found that men in their 40s were more likely than those in their mid-30s to report having been rejected from a date, as were men in the same age range in their 50s and 60s.
“We’re seeing an increase in the number of men and women who feel unwanted attention, or even sexual attention, in dating situations, particularly among younger men,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Sarah Biederman, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UC-Davis.
“Men who are in middle age are less likely to be rejected and more likely not to report being sexually harassed.
But older men are also more likely in their relationships to be sexually harassed, and the frequency of that behavior may be increasing.”
In the study, the researchers asked more than 700 people to describe how often they had been physically touched by a male acquaintance over the course of a year.
For men who reported experiencing more than 20 sexual touches, their rate of sexual harassment was 7.9 percent.
For women who reported more than 10 sexual touches they were more than twice as likely to experience sexual harassment.
“It is alarming to see a pattern of increasing sexual harassment among younger and older men,” Biedman said.
“There’s also evidence that older men who experience less sexual harassment are less willing to seek help.”
She and her colleagues also found that in the year prior to the study going live online, men in both groups reported experiencing unwanted sexual attention from women more than double the rate of women in their age range.
“Our study shows that women’s sexual harassment of older men is not limited to casual encounters or even to those men who are men of a higher age,” Blederman said.
The study also found higher rates of unwanted sexual advances against older men, including being touched in the groin and buttocks.
But the researchers cautioned that the findings do not suggest that older women are being sexually abused by younger women.
“This study does not show that older adults have a higher rate of unwanted advances against younger women,” said Biedeman.
“The most likely reason that older adult women are having more encounters with younger men is that they are feeling uncomfortable with the prospect of their relationship being the subject of unwanted physical attention.”
Bieder also said it is possible that men’s higher rates may stem from men’s lower rates of exposure to the sexual harassment and stalking they experience online.
“These findings may be due to the fact that older males are more likely individuals to experience harassment online than younger men and are therefore more vulnerable to online sexual harassment,” Bagederman said, “as well as the fact older men may be more sensitive to perceived sexual harassment by women in the dating scene.”
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RELATED STORY: Man accused of sexually assaulting 10-year-old girl, ages 12 and 13 says he is ‘the most important man in her life’ article When it comes to being the focus of sexual advances, the more time men spend on a date or in a relationship, the higher the rate, according to the report.
Women’s experiences with harassment increased when they were in their late 20s, early 30s and were in more committed relationships.
For example, in their early 30’s, more than two-thirds of women and more than half of men who had been harassed reported having been sexually harassed at least once in their dating or relationship.
But by the time women reached their early 40s and 50s, the incidence of sexual harassing had decreased by half.
But even by the early 50s women were still reporting being harassed by at least one other person, the study found.
“If a man is a young man, he’s likely to feel the brunt of the harassment he experiences in dating or relationships,” Bdederman said of men.
“As he ages, he may feel less likely that a woman is going to come to his rescue.”
This story was produced by The Huffington Post in partnership with Kaiser Health News.