To improve your visit to our site, take a minute and upgrade your browser. Bloggers and busybodies are divided over whether or not the age difference between actress Jennifer Lawrence, 24, and musician Chris Martin, 37, automatically renders their relationship inappropriate. The rule is widely cited, but its origins are hard to pin down. The rule also appears in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. When Malcolm X met his future wife Betty Sanders, he interpreted the fact that their ages fit the rule of seven as a sign that they were destined for each other.
Gender roles may complicate this even further. Socially, a society with a difference in wealth distribution between older and younger people may affect the dynamics of the relationship.
Although the " cougar " theme, in which older women date much younger men, is often portrayed in the media as a widespread and established facet of modern Western culture, at least one academic study has found the concept to be a "myth". A British psychological study published in Evolution and Human Behavior in concluded that men and women, in general, continued to follow traditional gender roles when searching for mates.
The study found that, as supported by other academic studies, most men preferred younger, physically attractive women, while most women, of any age, preferred successful, established men their age or older.
Acceptable dating age difference
The study found very few instances of older women pursuing much younger men and vice versa. The evolutionary approach, based on the theories of Charles Darwinattempts to explain age disparity in sexual relationships in terms of natural selection and sexual selection. Parental Investment Theory refers to the value that is placed on a potential mate based on reproductive potential and reproductive investment.
The theory predicts that preferred mate choices have evolved to focus on reproductive potential and reproductive investment of members of the opposite sex. However, human males tend to have more parental investment compared to mammal males although females still tend to have more parental investment. These two theories explain why natural and sexual selection acts slightly differently on the two sexes so that they display different preferences. For example, different age preferences may be a result of sex differences in mate values assigned to the opposite sex at those ages.
A study conducted by David Buss investigated sex differences in mate preferences in 37 cultures with 10, participants. In all 37 cultures it was found that males preferred females younger than themselves and females preferred males older than themselves.
These age preferences were confirmed in marriage records with males marrying females younger than them and vice versa. As well as asking participants a number of questions on mate selection criteria, they also had to provide the oldest and youngest partner they would accept. It was found that for all ages males were willing to accept females that are slightly older than they are on average 4. Females demonstrate a complementary pattern, being willing to accept considerably older males on average 8 years older and were also willing to accept males slightly younger than themselves on average 5 years younger.
This is somewhat different to our close evolutionary relatives: chimpanzees. Male chimpanzees tend to prefer older females than younger and it is suggested that specific cues of female mate value are very different to humans.
Buss attributed the male preference for younger females to certain youthful cues. In females, relative youth and physical attractiveness which males valued more compared to females demonstrated cues for fertility and high reproductive capacity. Teenage males also report that their ideal mates would be several years older than themselves.
Buss and Schmitt  stress that although long-term mating relationships are common for humans, there are both short-term and long-term mating relationships. Buss and Schmitt provided a Sexual Strategies Theory that describes the two sexes as having evolved distinct psychological mechanisms that underlie the strategies for short- and long-term mating. This theory is directly relevant and compatible with those two already mentioned, Life History and Parental Investment.
As they are the higher-investing sex, females tend to be slightly more demanding when picking a mate as predicted by parental investment theory. In contrast to above, in short-term mating, females will tend to favour males that demonstrate physical attractiveness, as this displays cues of 'good genes'.
Cross-culturally, research has consistently supported the trend in which males prefer to mate with younger females, and females with older males. Analysing the results further, cross culturally, the average age females prefer to marry is Males however prefer to marry when they are The results from the study therefore show that the mean preferred marriage age difference 3. The preferred age of females is However, in some regions of the world there is a substantially larger age gap between marriage partners in that males are much older than their wife or wives.
A theory that can explain this finding from an evolutionary perspective is the parasite-stress theory which explains that an increase of infectious disease can cause humans to evolve selectively according to these pressures.
Evidence also shows that as disease risk gets higher, it puts a level of stress on mating selection and increases the use of polygamy. Table 2 shows that 17 of the 20 countries with the largest age-gaps between spouses practice polygynyand that males range from 6.
In regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa the use of polygyny is commonly practiced as a consequence of high sex-ratios more males born per females and passing on heterozygous diverse genetics from different females to offspring.
Another reason that polygynous communities have larger age-gaps between spouses is that intrasexual competition for females increases as fewer females remain on the marriage market with males having more than one wife eachtherefore the competitive advantage values younger females due to their higher reproductive value. Comparatively in Western societies such as the US and Europe, there is a trend of smaller age-gaps between spouses, reaching its peak average in Southern Europe of 3.
Using the same pathogen-stress model, there is a lower prevalence of disease in these economically developed areas, and therefore a reduced stress on reproduction for survival. Additionally, it is common to see monogamous relationships widely in more modern societies as there are more women in the marriage market and polygamy is illegal throughout most of Europe and the United States.
As access to education increases worldwide, the age of marriage increases with it, with more of the youth staying in education for longer. The mean age of marriage in Europe is well above 25, and averaging at 30 in Nordic countries, however this may also be due to the increase of cohabitation in European countries. Social structural origin theory argues that the underlying cause of sex-differentiated behaviour is the concentration of men and women in differing roles in society.
It has been argued that a reason gender roles are so prevalent in society is that the expectations of gender roles can become internalised in a person's self-concept and personality.
It is thought that a trade-off or equilibrium is reached in regards to what each gender brings to the mating partnership and that this equilibrium is most likely to be reached with a trade-off of ages when selecting a mate. Women and men tend to seek a partner that will fit in with their society's sexual division of labour.
Sep 01, For men, though, the difference between their own age and what they considered an acceptable minimum increased as they got older, with the most dramatic drop around age "Men of 40, 50, What is traditionally deemed acceptable changes with age, especially as people grow older. A 17 year old girl dating a 31 year old man may raise an eyebrow but a 31 year old woman dating a 45 year old man probably wouldn't. According to some, you can determine your appropriate dating age range by only dating someone who is within a fifth of. Jun 27, Since dating the lawyer, I've capped my ideal man at about five to seven years older than me, especially on dating apps, where you can filter out those in a specific age group. But at the same Author: Ashley Ross.
For example, a marital system based on males being the provider and females the domestic worker, favours an age gap in the relationship. An older male is more likely to have more resources to provide to the family. The rational choice model also suggests that people look for partners who can provide for them in their life bread-winners ; as men traditionally earn more as they get older, women will therefore prefer older men. Age-hypogamy defines a relationship where the woman is the older partner, the opposite of this being age- hypergamy.
Older female-younger male relationships are, relative to age-hypergamous relationships older male-younger femaleless researched in scientific literature. The picture often displays a stereotypical pairing of a divorced, middle-aged, white, affluent female dating a younger male with the relationship taking the form of a non-commitment arrangement between the partners. Although age-hypogamous relationships have historically been very infrequent, recent US census data has shown an increase in age-hypogamous relationships from 6.
There may be many reasons why age-hypogamous relationships are not very frequent. Sexual double standards in society, in particular, may account for their rarity. There is debate in the literature as to what determines age-hypogamy in sexual relationships. A number of variables have been argued to influence the likelihood of women entering into an age-hypogamous relationship, such as racial or ethnic background, level of education, income, marital status, conservatism, age, and number of sexual partners.
Another example illustrating the varying literature surrounding age-hypogamous relationships is research indicating that a woman's marital status can influence her likelihood of engaging in age-hypogamous relationships. It has been found that married women are less likely to be partnered with a younger male compared to non-married women  in comparison to more recent findings, which provides evidence to suggest that previously married women are more likely to engage in an age-hypogamous sexual relationship compared to women who are married or who have never been married.
Despite social views depicting age-hypogamous relationships as short lived and fickle, recent research published by Psychology of Women Quarterly has found that women in age-hypogamous relationships are more satisfied and the most committed in their relationships compared to younger women or similarly aged partners.
A recent study found that when shown pictures of women of ages ranging from with different levels of attractiveness, regardless of age, males chose the more attractive individuals as long term partners.
That a person should never date someone under half their age plus seven is a rule of thumb sometimes used to determine whether an age difference is socially acceptable. In earlier sources, the rule had a different interpretation than in contemporary culture, as it was understood as a formula to calculate ideal age for the bride, instead of a lower limit for the woman's age in dating.
Aug 18, Now that is an exceptionally interesting question. I wish I had a particularly interesting answer. I do not. There are variables. First, if one of them is in their teens then even three years can be huge. I wouldn't want my 13 year old dating a si. The rule states that it is acceptable for year old women to date men who are up to 46 years old, but in reality, year-old women state that their . An interesting fun dating age range calculator to find out minimum and maximum dating age of person whom you wish to date. As per "Half Your Age Plus 7" relationship rule, the age of the younger person you date should not be less than half the age of the older person plus 7 years; and the age of the older person you date should not be more than your age minus 7 and .
Frederick Locker-Lampson 's Patchwork from states the opinion "A wife should be half the age of her husband with seven years added. Hugh Herbert. The half-your-age-plus seven rule also appears in John Fox, Jr. A study in found that the rule was fairly accurate at predicting the minimum age of woman that a man would marry or date.
The rule was not found to be predictive of the minimum age a woman would marry or date, nor of the maximum age either sex would marry or date. The age disparity between two partners is typically met with some disdain in industrialized nations, and various derogatory terms for participants have arisen in the vernacular.
In English-speaking countries, where financial disparity, and an implicit money-for-companionship exchange, is perceived as central to the relationship, the elder of the two partners perceived as the richer is often called a "sugar daddy" or "sugar mama" depending on gender.
The younger of the two is similarly called the sugar baby. In extreme cases, a person who marries into an extremely wealthy family can be labelled a gold diggerespecially in cases where the wealthy partner is of extreme age or poor health; this term often describes women but can be applied to any gender.
An attractive younger woman pursued by a wealthy man who is perceived as wanting her only for her appearance may be called a trophy wife. In the latter case, the term trophy is broadened to include any substantial difference in power originating from physical appearance, wealth, or status.
How Big of an Age Gap Is Too Big in Relationships?
The trophy label is often perceived as objectifying the partner, with or without the partner's implicit consent. Where the primary perceived reason for a relationship with a significant age difference is sexual, many gender-specific terms have become popular in English-speaking cultures. A woman of middle to elderly age who pursues younger men is a cougar or pumaand a man in a relationship with an older woman is often called a boytoytoyboyhimboor cub.
In reverse, the terms rhinotrout and manther a play on the panther term for women are generally used to label an older man pursuing younger women, and the younger woman in such a relationship may be called a kitten or panther. If the much-younger target of affections is not of the legal age of consent, the term jailbait may be applied to them, with connotations cautioning against involvement.
An older term for any licentious or lascivious man is a lecherand that term and its shortening of lech have become common to describe an elderly man who makes passes at much younger women. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. March Learn how and when to remove this template message.
Human sexuality portal. Archived from the original on 24 September Retrieved 13 December Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 26 August Retrieved 27 December Office for National Statistics.
Archived from the original on 24 September Child Development. European Sociological Review. Archived from the original on 9 May Retrieved 7 May Kenneth; Santtila, Pekka Evolutionary Psychology.
Archived from the original on 3 December Retrieved 25 November The Daily Telegraph.
Socially Acceptable Dating Age Difference
Archived from the original on 4 July Retrieved 5 April The rule is widely cited, but its origins are hard to pin down. The rule also appears in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. When Malcolm X met his future wife Betty Sanders, he interpreted the fact that their ages fit the rule of seven as a sign that they were destined for each other.
Now, the half-your-age plus seven rule has entered the cultural lexicon. But the rule of seven may not actually describe what people consider acceptable.
Oct 04, A common rule of thumb, at least on the internet, is that it's okay to be interested in someone "half your age plus seven" years. According to this rule, it would not be creepy for a 30 year old to date a 22 year-old, but an 18 year-old would be off-limits. Although this is a fun rule of thumb, what does research say about age preferences for potential mates? Dec 15, For example, if you start dating someone who is 20 when you are 26 years old, they are within the acceptable age range, according to the rule, but it is the very limit of your minimum age range. But when you are 30, and they are 24, your new age range is 22, and they are well above that tiendakiteboarding.com: Lachlan Brown.