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The issue of an acceptable age gap becomes particularly important when you think about entering a relationship with a mail order bride. So what is the modern age gap meaning and does it matter as much as we tend to think?
The definition of the dating age gap could not be simpler: it’s the literal age difference between the partners. In contemporary psychology, the term “age gap” refers only to 10 and more years of an age difference between the man and the woman, while anything smaller than that is not technically an age gap.
Dating age rule: how much age difference is acceptable?
When determining the acceptable age difference in a relationship, most people think of the half your age plus seven rule. This approach has been known since the late 19th century and it is still the most popular way to calculate the acceptable age gap.
To learn the lowest acceptable age of your potential partner, you need to divide your own age in two and then add 7 to the number. For example, for a 35-year old man, that number would be 24, and at 45 years of age, you should not date anyone younger than 29.
To calculate the upper age limit, you need to take your own age, subtract 7 from it, and double the number. So a 35-year old lady can safely date someone who is up to 56 years old, and for a 45-year old woman, that number is 76.
The reality of age gap relationships for men and women
Traditionally, when it comes to the age difference in dating, men are looking for a lower age in their partners, while women prefer older men. These views can be easily explained by men wanting someone youthful, physically attractive, and with many potential childbearing years ahead of them. As for women, they want to see someone successful and financially stable by their side, which are the two qualities that tend to come with older age.
At the same time, the search for younger partners is not universal for all men and all relationship types. This phenomenon was illustrated by Buunk and colleagues, whose 2000 study identified several patterns. According to the study, guys looking for long-term dating and marriage will typically go for a woman who fits the “your age plus seven” rule or even someone older than that. Men often fantasize about younger partners, but they prefer a more sensible approach when it comes to actually choosing a woman for a serious relationship or marriage.
For example, a 60-year old man will likely consider a woman around the age of 45 for a serious relationship or marriage, but he is more likely to fall in love with a 35-year old woman. The minimal age of a woman that a 60-year old man would consider for a casual affair is only around 32, and sexual fantasies of men of that age typically involve someone in their mid-twenties.
What is the average age difference in dating Latin women?
According to a 2006 study by Choo and Siou, a slightly older man with a slightly younger woman remains the most universal pairing in the world and it’s also fairly common with mail order brides. Here is what else you need to know about the age gap relationship statistics In the US and in Latin America:
- For Western men marrying mail order brides, the difference can be very noticeable. On average, according to the statistics, a foreign mail order bride is 7 years younger than her husband, and for Latin American brides, the median age difference is 6.5 years. It can be even smaller for Mexican brides, who tend to be only 5 years younger than their partners, while Cuban brides are often 8 years younger. The RapidVisa report on K-1 visa sponsors and applicants revealed that a typical K-1 visa sponsor is a 42-year old US man, while a typical applicant is a woman in her late 20s.
- In marriages between two US natives, the age difference tends to be from 1 to 3 years, which is considerably smaller than the median age difference in mail-order marriages. However, in 11.2% of marriages, the husband is 6 to 9 years older than the wife, and in 7.6% of US married couples, the age gap is over 10 years. Plus, people in the US are in no rush to get married, which directly influences the age of marriage. In the US, women tend to get married around 28, while men are 30 or older by the time they get married.
- The average age gap in marriage in South America is 2.9 years, which is over two times lower than the age difference in mail order marriages. Regarding the most common age of marriage in Central and South America, it’s worth noting that people prefer to get married earlier, but the data varies from country to country. The typical marriage age is from 24 for men and 21 for women from Honduras to 36 and 32, respectively, in Dominica.
So while there is a clear pattern of US men being older than their mail order brides, this data is unique to those specific pairings. For Latin and US marriages between two natives, the age difference tends to be considerably smaller — on average, between 1 and 3 years.
Age gap relationship problems
Every relationship comes with its own set of issues, and the specifics of age gap marriages lead to certain age gap relationships problems. Here are the 6 most common age differences in marriage problems that you can potentially face.
- Different relationship goals. It’s not uncommon for younger people to have less serious intentions than their older relationship partners.
- Parenthood. Sooner or later, your couple will face the choice of whether to have children, and you may have different views on this issue compared to your partner.
- Relationship milestones. An older partner typically wants to get married or move in together sooner than the younger partner expected to take those steps.
- Compatibility. When there is an age difference of 10 or more years, you tend to have different cultural backgrounds and views on life than your partner.
- Financial situation. With a younger partner to take care of, you may need to make different financial decisions than you would do in a relationship with no age gap.
- Support from the social circle. Sadly, it’s not uncommon even for the closest friends and family members to disapprove of a relationship with a big age difference.
Can age gap relationships work?
Can age gap relationships work at all? The age gap relationships psychology is actually very optimistic about them, which promises great things for your own romance.
According to the researchers, age-gap relationships have numerous benefits over same-age couples. In marriages with an age difference, the partners tend to be more loyal to each other, more trusting, less jealous, and display less selfishness that can be typically observed in couples with no significant age gap. The commitment in age-gap couples was also found to be stronger.
As for the satisfaction in a marriage with an age difference, the data is different based on several factors. For example, men are usually completely satisfied in the beginning of an age-gap marriage, especially when their spouse is around 6 years younger than them. However, after 8 years of marriage, the satisfaction levels begin to go down. Women who married older men may not be as highly satisfied as the men at the beginning, but over the years, the satisfaction level does not go through any drastic changes. Around 74% of women married to partners who are 10 or more years older than them are fully satisfied in their marriages.
The age difference is an important factor in any relationship, but it’s only one of the many things that influence the success of your pairing. As long as you have genuine feelings for one another and are prepared to make things work, the age gap should not be a big problem for your romance.