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Men marry younger women and women prefer to marry older men, in general.But is it culture, genetics or the environment that drives such a choice—and is there an optimal age difference?When Malcolm X met his future wife Betty Sanders, he interpreted the fact that their ages fit the rule of seven as a sign that they were destined for each other.Muhammad might not have been the most reliable relationship counselor, though; he was also concerned about height disparity: “a tall man married to a too short woman, or vice versa … Now, the half-your-age plus seven rule has entered the cultural lexicon.There are two things that predict a preferred partner’s age: (a) your age and (b) your biological sex (male vs. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense for women to prefer mates with resources and to like partners who are more established, both of which are more likely in older partners. It turns out that, on average, women tend to be married to men a few years older than themselves (2-5 years).Men, in contrast, are hypothesized to be most attracted to women in their reproductive prime, which tends to be when they are younger. Women’s preferences, on the other hand, hold relatively constant across their lives, not going more than a few years below their own age (extra-credit if you can identify the "cougar zone" in this figure), but women remain keen on men up to 10 years older than themselves. However, younger men (i.e., in their 20’s) tend to be married to someone of a similar age, but as they get older their wives get younger.Martin, then, shouldn’t date anyone younger than 26 and a half; Lawrence shouldn’t go above 34.

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Stupid society and its conditioning that men look handsome and distinguished as they age while women don't. It’s defined ten times on Urban Dictionary, gets its own section in Wikipedia’s page on age disparity in sexual relationships, is espoused by Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother” and is referenced by and The Awl.But the rule of seven may not actually describe what people consider acceptable.Other research in modern day Sweden has shown that the ideal reproductive match is for a man to marry a woman six years his junior.But the cultural constraints on marriage may have changed.In 2001, a team of Dutch social psychologists, led by Bram P.

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