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Women’s preferred minimum partner age: Below are the data from Buunk et al.’s (2000) study on women’s minimum age preferences; the rule’s age calculations are represented by the solid line.In general, the figure shows that women are reporting minimum age preferences that the rule’s predictions.By the time of their separation in 2011, however, Kutcher, then 33 had crossed the minimum threshold (31.5) defined by the rule. Curious outsiders are quick to judge when they can see a wide age gap between two romantic partners. In a world in which many social norms are often unspoken, the half-your-age-plus-7 rule concretely defines a boundary.

People reported distinct age preferences for marriage; a serious relationship; falling in love; casual sex; and sexual fantasies. Based on the figures Buunk and colleagues (2000) provided (and thus the numbers are only informed approximations), I replotted their data superimposing the max and min age ranges defined by the half-your-age-plus-7 rule.

What is the acceptable minimum age for your own (and others’) dating partners?

When this question comes up in conversation, someone inevitably cites the “half your age plus seven” rule.

Those age preferences consistently hover around the values denoted by the rule (the black line).

If anything, in practice men are than the rule would designate appropriate.

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