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.
This rules states that by dividing your own age by two and then adding seven you can find the age boundary: Take your age, subtract 7, and double it.
So for a 24-year old, the upper age limit would be 34 (i.e., 17 * 2).
For rule-related involvement (e.g., relationships), 60-year-old men are stating that the minimum acceptable age is around 40ish, which does map much more closely to the rule’s predictions.
The utility of this equation is that it lets you chart acceptable age discrepancies that adjust over the years. Let's examine it: How well does the rule reflect scientific evidence for age preferences?
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.
Figure 2 clearly shows that the rule’s max-age guidelines for men do reflect real-world preferences.
The rule overestimates the perceived acceptability of men becoming involved with older women.