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Those age preferences consistently hover around the values denoted by the rule (the black line).
If anything, in practice men are than the rule would designate appropriate.
By the time of their separation in 2011, however, Kutcher, then 33 had crossed the minimum threshold (31.5) defined by the rule. Curious outsiders are quick to judge when they can see a wide age gap between two romantic partners. In a world in which many social norms are often unspoken, the half-your-age-plus-7 rule concretely defines a boundary.
But the rule does map perfectly onto actual reports of what is socially acceptable.
As you can see from the graph, one partner exceeded the rule’s calculated acceptable maximum age, while Ashton Kutcher’s age fell short of the socially-acceptable minimum age when they first started dating in 2003.
What is the acceptable minimum age for your own (and others’) dating partners?
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.
So for a 24-year old, the upper age limit would be 34 (i.e., 17 * 2).
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In other words, while the rule states that 40-year-old women can feel comfortable dating 27-year-old men, this does not reflect the social preferences and standards of women.