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The rule underestimates women’s reported preferences in their 20s, but the gap between reports of what is socially acceptable and the rule itself widens over time. Let’s take a look at Demi Moore, who at times has been criticized for dating men who differ substantially from her own age.As you can see from the graph, one partner exceeded the rule’s calculated acceptable maximum age, while Ashton Kutcher’s age fell short of the socially acceptable minimum age when they first started dating in 2003.With some quick math, the rule provides a minimum and maximum partner age based on your actual age that, if you choose to follow it, you can use to guide your dating decisions. It lets you chart acceptable age discrepancies that adjust over the years. Researchers Buunk and colleagues (2000) asked men and women to identify the ages they would consider when evaluating someone for relationships of different levels of involvement.
But fantasies, of course, are not generally subject to public scrutiny and the rule is only designed to calculate what is socially acceptable —so this discrepancy is not necessarily a failure of the rule.Now we can see how well the rule corresponds with people’s reported acceptable ages.Men’s preferred minimum partner age: Let’s start with minimum age preferences reported by heterosexual men.He approached the line with two other partners but is well within the threshold in his marriage with Amal Alamuddin. The minimum rule (half-your-age-plus-seven) seems to work for men, although the maximum rule falls short, failing to reflect empirical age-related preferences.How well does the rule capture women’s preferences?
In Figure 1, the solid black line represents the rule’s calculation for the minimum acceptable range.