Reasonable dating

Women’s preferred maximum partner age: Examining maximum preferences, again the rule is more lenient, offering an age range with which most people are not comfortable.

The rule states that it is acceptable for 30-year old women to date men who are up to 46 years old, but in reality, 30-year-old women state that their max acceptable partner age would be less than 40 (around 37).

For rule-related involvement (relationships), 60-year-old men are stating that the minimum acceptable age is around 40, which does map much more closely to the rule’s predictions.

Men’s preferred partner age: The rule states that you can calculate maximum acceptable partner ages by subtracting seven from your own age and multiplying it by two.

In Figure 1, the solid black line represents the rule’s calculation for the minimum acceptable range.

Thus the rule for maximum age is fairly ineffective at capturing what men actually believe is acceptable. Now let's apply the rule to actual dating behavior by examining George Clooney’s dating habits.

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?

Clooney has been scrutinized at times for dating younger women, though not consistently, and this pattern is nicely reflected in a graph of his own age, his partners’ ages, and the rule’s calculations for minimum and maximum acceptable ages.

Only twice has he become involved with women whose ages were outside the rule’s guidelines.

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