What’s an acceptable age difference when dating?

What is an acceptable age difference when dating? Good question. The truth is there could be a difference between what an individual might find acceptable in terms of age difference when compared to society in general. There are a couple of unwritten rules, however, that many people around the world follow when it comes to an age difference.

age difference dating

The “Half Your Age Plus Seven Rule”

When one researches dating advice, this is arguably one of the most popular and frequently-mentioned rules on the most socially-acceptable age difference when in a relationship. The rule essentially states that it is acceptable to date a person who is half your present age plus an additional seven years.

As an example, if you’re 40 years old, then the very youngest socially-acceptable age is 27. Because 40 divided by two is 20 plus seven years would be 27 years old.

There’s also a restriction for the younger partner in an age gap relationship that notes it’s socially acceptable to date a person who is your own age minus seven years, then doubled.

For example, the 40-year-old maximum socially-acceptable age difference when dating a person who is 66 years old. Because 40 minus seven is 33, then doubled is 66.

Interestingly, this acceptable age difference rule results in a widening of the gap as one gets older. For instance, the acceptable minimum dating age for someone who is 30 is 22. The maximum is 46. Compare that to a person of 50 whose minimum and maximum age is actually 32 and 86 years old respectively. One theory is that the older someone is, the more socially acceptable it is for him/her to date a person with a higher age difference than someone who is younger.

Differences between women and men

There are noteworthy differences between the sexes when it concerns an acceptable age of potential partners. Men generally date younger women. Additionally, females generally date someone who is older than what a male may possibly find desirable.

International history of the popular rule

The origin of this old, popular dating advice rule is a bit sketchy. Some sources report that the age difference rule was calculated by an unnamed individual (or individuals) in France. Older sources indicate that this popular rule once had a different, more specific interpretation than that previously discussed here.

It was once used as a mathematical formula to determine the perfect age for a bride instead of a lower age limit for an apropos age. According to journalist and author Max O’Rell’s 1901 work “Her Royal Highness Woman,” the rule is presented thusly: “A man should marry a woman half his age, plus seven.” Three decades later US newspapers were reportedly attributing the rule to Maurice Chevalier.

Cross-cultural differences

Regardless of the culture, research consistently reveals that there is a definite trend wherein men prefer to mate with younger women, and women with older men. In one specific study, age difference preferences were studied and measured in covering 37 countries. While acceptable age differences are not all that different, when it comes to actual marriage for reproductive purposes, however, researchers determined that men prefer a wife close to the peak of female fertility (24–25 years old).

Further analysis of the data indicates that regardless of the country or culture, the average that women prefer to engage in a long-term monogamous relationship is 25.4 years. Additionally, their ideal man is 3.4 years older than they are. Thus, their chosen mate would be 28.8 years old. Men, however, prefer to marry at the age of 27.5 to a woman who is 2.7 younger meaning the preferred mate would be 24.8 years old. The preferred age of women (24.8) and the average age women marry (25.3) and men (28.2) indicate that human evolution has created monogamous mating preferences that actually maximize human reproduction.


The “Half Plus Seven Rule” may initially seem arbitrary or limited. Nevertheless, when compared to seeking a mate in order to start a family, the rules offer a slightly broader age difference to utilize when discussing a socially acceptable age gap for any other relationship or social interaction.

Jack Wristen is the webmaster and editor of http://www.pheromoneauthority.com  When Jack is not blogging about pheromones and reviewing different products on the pheromone market, he enjoys camping with family and friends and riding his dune buggy across the sand dunes.