Over the past 30 years, lifestyles have changed significantly.
For millennials, the modern lifestyle often means living in cities, away from home. It means decent social lives, time consuming careers, and most likely, a high cost of living making it difficult to buy a place and settle down.
These lifestyle changes, and the independence that accompanies it, mean that many of us are either living on our own for longer, or delaying some of life's 'big events' such as getting married and starting a family.
Indeed, in 2016, a study in England and Wales found that the average age for a man marrying was 39.7 years and a women marrying was 35.5 years, compared to 27.2 years and 24.7 years back in 1970.
If there is one catalyst in our lives to make us want to find someone and settle down, it’s the thought that we’re at, or close to being at, our so-called 'peak'.
We want to find someone when we're in our best shape. If we think we're soon going to start deteriorating (however defined), our subconscious gets the inner drum beating and instructs the body to get a move on.
Here's a few things to consider when we think about what constitutes 'peak'...
Forces of Attraction
While some of us are lucky enough to age gracefully, for others there can be a cliff edge.
As we get older, our facial definition changes, as the face loses muscle tone and the skin thins. Our extremities, such as nose and ears, continue to grow and may become outsized. We may get grey hair, if we still have any.
Depending on the face, organic ageing in the 30s and 40s can make men appear more attractive. Many women think Orlando Bloom, Aston Kutcher and James Franco looked better in their 30s than they did in their 20s.
However, there are plenty of us to whom this positive disposition does not apply.
A mega study in the US of over 2,000 people anaylsed the attractiveness of men and women towards each other.
Men considered that women reached their peak attractiveness at 30, showed signs of ‘ageing’ at 41, stopped looking ‘sexy’ at 53, and became ‘old’ at 55.
Meanwhile, women thought that men looked their best at 34, started to show signs of ageing at 43, stopped looking good at 58 and became old at 59.
This means that in terms of peak attractiveness, men have the odds in their favour, with a 4-year advantage over women (34-30).
Other studies suggest that there is an even greater imbalance, with men seemingly becoming more attractive over time, with women correspondingly losing their overall appeal.
The attraction to ageing men is supported by factors such as being emotionally developed, well-rounded, more knowledgeable and financially secure.
The decline in men's attraction to women is believed in part because of the subconscious appeal of fertility, which decreases over time.
Peak Physical Condition
We can’t defy gravity, and the same applies to the effects of aging on our physical performance.
When we look at professional athletes, such as footballers or rugby players, often they rise to prominence in their late teens, whilst retirement beckons in the early-to-mid 30s.
There’s a reason for this. Our strength peaks at age 25 when our muscles are at their strongest.
Strong muscles are very important. They help us to run faster by improving neuromuscular coordination and power, prevent injuries in the muscle itself and connective tissue, and improve coordination and stride efficiency.
Shortly thereafter, at aged 30, our bone mass peaks. Bones play many roles in the body, providing structure, protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium.
With the body reaching peak physical condition between 25-30, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the average age of an elite marathon runner is 28.
However, whilst the body clock may be ticking, as we get older our psychological state improves. The means we develop greater stamina and a greater tolerance for pain.
Depending on the balance, this may be sufficient to offset the degeneration of the body and carry peak performance through our 30s and into our early 40s.
This has certainly been the case for some of the greatest sport stars. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo is still hitting the mark for Juventus, aged 35, and shows few signs of slowing.
Peak Mental Condition
Conventional ideas about the brain and intelligence often suggest that people hit their mental peak fairly early in life and then follow a long, slow decline into old age.
It may therefore be surprising to know that there are quite a few mental abilities that peak much later in life. At any given age, we're getting better, worse and plateauing at different things.
For example, take learning a second language. It’s commonly accepted that it's easier for most people when they're younger, generally before puberty, say aged 7 or 8.
Peak brain processing power comes a decade or so later at aged 18, and then immediately begins to decline. Meanwhile our ability to remember unfamiliar names peaks at aged 22 and our short-term memory begins to weaken and decline at aged 35.
However, what's interesting is that many mental abilities peak much later in life. Take, arithmetic skills which peak at 50. Indeed, even as late as our 70s and 80s, our crystallized intelligence, or accumulated knowledge and facts about the world, peaks.
What should be pleasing to know is that late in life, at 74, our happiness with our body peaks. This is followed by a peak in our psychological wellbeing at the grand-old age of 82.
Ultimately, age is just a number.
The question, “What age is a man at his peak?” no longer has the typical answer that it would have in the past.
A man’s life is not just about sexual attraction, physical performance or cognitive ability.
It's also dependent on general happiness that derives from a whole range of factors such as family, friends, job security and general health.
Rather than worrying about whether or not we've passed our peak, perhaps the focus should be instead be searching for what we want in life without holding back.
Written by Matthew Sweeney, Co-Founder