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You can see that men are basically operating by the rule for minimum age preferences for marital relationships (blue bars) and serious dating relationships (yellow bars).

Those age preferences consistently hover around the values denoted by the rule (the black line).

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

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.

Perhaps you’re ready to see the world and want to find someone who shares your wanderlust. The simplest is to ask friends if they know someone you’d enjoy meeting. Most people probably won’t think of suggesting this on their own (and if they do, they may hold back for fear of offending you).

Or maybe a partner’s allergies compelled you to live without pets and now you’re ready to romp with a fellow dog lover. Factors that loomed large in the past—good looks, financial success, whatever—may pale in the present as you acknowledge the importance of a partner who is kind and supportive, or one who is funny and entertaining. If you’ve become a bit, er, casual in the weight, wardrobe or grooming departments, now’s the time to ratchet up your game. So actively encourage them to think of you as a single, eligible person.

But fantasies, of course, are not generally subject to public scrutiny and the rule is only designed to calculate what is socially acceptable —so this discrepancy is not necessarily a failure of the rule.

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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.

Men’s preferred minimum partner age: Let’s start with minimum age preferences reported by heterosexual men.

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

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.

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