Measuring the value of a relationship in terms of the age of the partners and the longevity of the union may not be the best rule.As psychotherapist and agony aunt Trish Murphy says, “While any parent would be justified in expressing concern about a 20-year age gap, having a good relationship at any stage of your life is worthwhile, and it would be good to cherish and value that relationship for as long as it makes sense.” Age gaps can work really well.Although this is a fun rule of thumb, what does research say about age preferences for potential mates?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).
Sometimes a significant age gap makes a relationship impossible.
While we really have no right to surmise what’s going on with them, we still tend to speculate about the power balance in age-gap relationships.
A downside, says Murphy, is that “we often need our community of family and friends to hold the faith for the relationship while we dither or experience doubt.
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.
For example, by their 50’s the average male has a wife who is 10 years younger than him.