Upon signing up for an account on JDate you’re asked to choose an age range for your matches. Choosing your age range doesn’t sound like it should be a complicated matter, but alas age isn’t just a number. By choosing a narrow age range you’re systematically eliminating thousands of prospects simply because of age.

Like is attracted to like.  So, someone just out of college is often drawn to someone who is in the same phase in their life, while someone in their late 20’s who is working really hard to get to the top of their field is attracted to other people in a similar stage. The same goes for people in their early 30’s who are beginning to think about starting a family, they’re looking for someone who’s on the same page. That’s why many people end up dating and marrying people around the same age. But selecting a narrow age gap on JDate is not in your favor. If you’re a 28-year-old female and select a maximum age of 32, imagine how many 33-year-olds you’re excluding. Now imagine how many 34-year-olds you’re excluding. And it’s only an age gap of a few years!

When you meet someone at a bar you can only attempt to measure his or her age based on their looks, and possibly their career and maturity, but you were attracted to that person and started getting to know him or her before asking their age. So when it turns out that he or she is a few years younger than your minimum or a couple years older than your maximum, are you going to turn your back? Probably not, so attach that philosophy to your JDate account and broaden your options.

Interestingly, as we get older our preferred age range tends to change. First, it broadens and then it becomes narrower. When you’re approaching your 30’s you tend to only add a few years on each end because for some inexplicable reason age matters.  However, in your mid-30’s the age range widens a bit as other, more important traits take precedence. And as 40 looms in the not too distant future you’re more than willing to add 10 years on each end because you become pickier about other qualities. I actually think the last approach is best – make the age range as broad as possible and use other, more important, traits to narrow down your search.