Updated April 20, Romantic couples with a large age gap often raise eyebrows. Studies have found with more than a year gap in age experience social disapproval. But when it comes to our own relationships, both men and women prefer someone their own age, but are open to someone years their junior or senior.
While there is variation across cultures in the size of the difference in age-gap couples, all cultures demonstrate the age-gap couple phenomenon. In some non-Western countries, the average age gap is much larger than in Western countries.
For example, in some African countries about 30 per cent of unions reflect a large age gap. So does age matter? And do couples with large age gaps experience poorer or better relationship outcomes compared to couples of similar ages? Across Western countries, about 8 per cent of all married heterosexual couples can be classified as having a large age gap 10 years or more. These generally involve older men partnered with younger women. About 1 per cent of age-gap couples involve an older woman partnered with a younger man.
The limited evidence on same-sex couples, however, suggests the prevalence rates are higher. About 25 per cent of male-male unions and 15 Dating someone with a big age difference cent of female-female unions demonstrate a large age gap.
But what these trends tell us is that the majority of the population is likely to partner with someone of similar age. This largely has to do with having social circles that generally include peers of similar ages and being attracted to others who are similar. Similarity entails many things, including personality, interests and values, life goals and stage of life, and physical traits age being a marker of physical appearance.
Many of the reasons proposed for age-gap couples have been largely rooted in evolutionary explanations, and focus on explaining older man-younger woman pairings.
From this perspective, it's thought men's preferences for younger women and women's preferences for older men relate to reproductive fitness. That is, the extent to which someone has "good genes" — indicated by their attractiveness and sense of energy also known as vitality — and the extent to which they are a "good investment" — indicated by their status and resources as well as their warmth and sense of trust.
Although men and women place importance on a partner who is warm and trustworthy, women place more importance "Dating someone with a big age difference" the status and resources of their male partner.
This is largely because, with women being the child bearers, the investment is very high on their behalf time and effort in child bearing and rearing. So they are attuned to looking for a partner who will also invest resources into a relationship and family. In couples with an age gap it's more likely the woman is younger.
This is probably because women place more importance on resources and men on fertility. But because the building of resources takes time, we tend to acquire resources later in life and so are older by the time we have acquired wealth and resources to comfortably provide for others.
So, women being attuned to status and resources might explain why some women may be attracted to older men. In contrast, there's evidence to suggest men value attractiveness and vitality more than women because, from an evolutionary standpoint, youth is seen as an indicator of fertility. Given men cannot bear children, evolution suggests they're attuned to younger women to enhance the chances of partnering with someone who can provide children.
But the evolutionary explanation is limited in that it doesn't explain why the reverse occurs an older woman-younger man pairingor why age gaps exist within same-sex couples.
With more women now working in higher positions and being paid more, they no longer have such a reliance on men for resources. So, fewer women will prioritise resources when looking for a mate. As for same-sex couples, there's very little research. Some suggest a lack ofor a reduced pool of, suitable age-similar mates may bring about same-sex coupling with large age differences.
Many people assume age-gap couples fare poorly when it comes to relationship outcomes.
But some studies find the relationship satisfaction reported by age-gap couples is higher. These couples also seem to report greater trust and commitment and lower jealousy than similar-age couples. Over three-quarters of couples where younger women are partnered with older men report satisfying romantic relationships.
A factor that does impact on the relationship outcomes of age-gap couples is their perceptions of social disapproval. That is, if people in age-gap couples believe their family, friends and wider community disapprove of their union, then relationship commitment decreases and the risk of break-up increases. These effects appear to apply to heterosexual and same-sex couples.
So the negative outcomes for age-gap couples seem to reside not in problems within the couple, but in pressures and judgments from the outside world. Another factor at play may have to do with the stage of life each partner is experiencing.
For instance, a year gap between a year-old and a year-old may bring up different challenges and issues than for a year gap where one partner is 53 and the other is This is because our lives are made up of different stages, and each stage consists of particular life tasks we need to master. And we give priority to the mastery of different tasks during these distinct stages of our lives.
So when each member of a couple straddles a different life stage, it may be difficult for the couple to reconcile each other's differing life needs and goals. The success of a relationship depends on the extent to which partners share similar values, beliefs and goals about their relationship; support each other in achieving personal goals; foster relationship commitment, trust and intimacy; and resolve problems in constructive ways.
These factors have little do with age. So the reality is, while an age gap may bring about some challenges for couples, so long as couples work at their relationship, age should be no barrier. Gery Karantzas is an associate professor in social psychology and relationship science at Deakin University. This piece first appeared on The Conversation. First posted April 20, If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content.
Read about our editorial guiding principles and the enforceable standard our journalists follow. You might have noticed the absence of our weekly quiz. It still exists, just not where you might expect. Can I borrow some money? It's a question many of us dread — particularly from friends. We ask the experts how to handle this delicate negotiation.
Spying on bumblebees in laboratory nests has revealed behavioural changes in insects exposed to tiny quantities of a widely used neonicotinoid pesticide. Should President Trump be worried about his chances for re-election in ? This was nowhere near as bad as it could've been for President Trump. French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, who is 24 years his
Dating someone with a big age difference. It's not just sex: The success of a relationship depends on partners sharing similar values, beliefs and goals about their relationship.
Foley vs Raper shows that even if you're a good girl, you're still going to cop it Thunderstorm asthma inquest recommends giving ambulance ETA to triple-0 callers photos Police told to stop Bourke St accused 'at all costs' hours after aborted chase SPORT Spin bowler's degree twirl falls foul of umpires Analysis: Not all mass shooters have a military background — but too many do 'It's bloody disgusting': Lovebirds carve names into mountain top Geoffrey Rush defamation trial hears he may never work again Derailed train 'failed to respond to driver's emergency stop attempts' photos 'Violent' earthquake shakes south-west WA — and there could be more to come Analysis: Clear Q, vague A — the big stumper left hanging in ousted PM's TV appearance Pyne tells Turnbull plotters to take responsibility for leadership spill 'Don't go outside.
The Nazis are here': Kristallnacht survivor fears it will happen again Prince Charles promises
Dating someone with a big age difference stop 'meddling' in public affairs when he becomes king A university was caught systematically marking down women.
Now the scandal has snowballed Trump's next major problem is moving closer and closer — and they're not giving up 'I will work tirelessly': China unveils artificial intelligence news anchors Chart of the day: The OECD country that imprisons more journalists than China How a clerical typo ruined a Brisbane couple's financial reputation Regional Tasmania becomes Australia's hottest property photos.
Connect with ABC News. Got a news tip? Editorial Policies Read about our editorial guiding principles and the enforceable standard our journalists follow.
Where has the news quiz gone? Do friends and money mix? What to consider before loaning a mate cash Can I borrow some money? Bees abandon their babies at night Spying on bumblebees in laboratory nests has revealed behavioural changes in insects exposed to tiny quantities of a widely used neonicotinoid pesticide.
Six silver linings for Trump from his midterm results Should Dating someone with a big age difference Trump be worried about his chances for re-election in ? Foley vs Raper shows that even if you're a good girl, you're still going to cop it Thunderstorm asthma inquest recommends giving ambulance ETA to triple-0 callers Police told to stop Bourke St accused 'at all costs' hours after aborted chase Spin bowler's degree twirl falls foul of Dating someone with a big age difference Analysis: Lovebirds carve names into mountain top.
Just In Scott Volkers committed to stand trial on indecent treatment of child charges Arthur Boyd paintings go bush as part of national tour Car found near four bodies was 'quite apparently unroadworthy' Smoke visible after reported car fire in Melbourne CBD Thunderstorm asthma inquest recommends giving ambulance ETA to triple-0 callers 'We were freaking out': Malaysia Airlines passengers told of technical issues on flight Not all mass shooters have a military background — but too many do Over 75pc of Aboriginal children in Broken Hill have unsafe blood lead levels, study finds 'It's a massive honour': Tarek Elrich humbled to reach major A-League milestone month-old conjoined twins successfully separated in Melbourne.
Most Popular Sarah Sanders accused of sharing 'fake' video to justify banning CNN reporter Clear Q, vague A — the big stumper left hanging in ousted PM's TV appearance Turnbull names the nine 'destructive' plotters behind coup which cost him his job 'Horrific' scene as gunman kills 12 at California bar student night photos California bar gunman who killed 12 people was a former US Marine Obama is back and he's reclaiming his America Luke Foley resigns as NSW Labor Leader following ABC journalist's statement Disgraced gardening guru Don Burke sued over comments in TV interview Pyne tells Turnbull plotters to take responsibility for leadership spill Child's body found after death of three people near outback community.
Media Video Audio Photos. Connect Upload Contact Us. Change to mobile view. How Big of an Age Gap Is Too Big in Relationships? By. a good rule to remember is that dating someone more than 10 years older will present Couples with a big age difference need to think things through or risk finding.
A big age difference provides you with valuable opportunities to learn about alternative . I have been dating a man 31 years older than me. Romantic couples with a large age gap often raise eyebrows.
both men and women prefer someone their own age, but are open to someone.