A survey has revealed that many Swedish women (22.6 percent) between the ages of 18 and 55+ consider 40 to be the ideal age for a man, while males (24.7 percent) are most drawn to 25-year-old women.
Thirty is also a popular age, with 21.8 percent of men and 17.7 percent of women expressing a preference for this vintage.
The tendency to go for older men is most apparent among younger Swedish women (18-24), with one in three finding men over thirty the most attractive.
The poll of 5,661 European singles, conducted by online dating website meetic.se, also shows that despite men favouring younger women, 22 percent of Swedes agree that 40 is a woman’s sexual prime – more than any other age.
Other results show that one third of Swedish people consider it ‘normal’ for the man to be older than the woman in a relationship, compared to just a fifth the other way around.
Linda Gellerstam, who works for Meetic, said: “I think women tend to be attracted to older men primarily because they are more confident about themselves and they have a higher self esteem.
“I think older men are more ready for a long-term commitment, and they know what sort of relationship they want.”
But Professor Gunnar Andersson, an expert in sociology from Stockholm University, thinks it is social tradition that dictates women’s taste in men.
“There are strong traditions stating that the man is supposed to be older than the woman but in practical terms there are no good reasons for this.
“But it has become more and more accepted for older women to be involved with younger men, and as women live longer than men, it can be practical to live with a man younger than themselves.”
In 2002 one famous Swede, TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, had a brief relationship with then England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson – 20 years her senior.
Jonsson alleged that Eriksson visited her home, took her out for dinner and called her two or three times a day during their affair, all behind the back of his Italian girlfriend Nancy Dell’Olio.
At the time Jonsson told the Daily Mail: “I felt very loved by him. He was charming and generous emotionally. He was a real gentleman.”