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The "creepiness rule" states that the youngest you should date is "half your age plus seven." The less commonly used corollary is that the oldest you should date is "subtract seven from your age and double it."According to this rule, society should accept a 50 year old man dating a 32 year old woman. Reactions ranged from “sure” to “that’s weird” to “why are you asking me this? When I flipped the genders – a 50 year old woman dating a 32 year old man – people’s responses often flipped as well.
This made me wonder, does the creepiness rule actually reflect what is socially acceptable when it comes to age differences in dating?
As I reviewed the data, I realized that one rule was not enough.
Society has different expectations for men and women - men can date younger than women and women can date older than men.
The researchers then presented different types of relationships- sexual fantasies, casual affairs, long-term relationships, marriage - and asked the participants what the minimum and maximum age of their partner is for each scenario.
The results were interesting but just because I want to date someone much younger than me doesn’t mean I would be okay with someone else doing the same.
When John and Lauren are 60, the creepiness rule allows them to date anyone older than themselves (the official cap is 106).
One thing is clear - nothing brings out more opinions than other people’s love lives.Buunk & colleagues wrote a paper investigating how factors such as age, gender, and type of romantic relationship (casual, serious, marriage, etc.) affect the age limits people place on potential romantic partners.The researchers approached random people in public and asked them to imagine themselves in a romantic relationship with an attractive person of the opposite sex .Based on the creepiness rule, a 20-year old John/Lauren can date someone who is 17.
This was in line with what people surveyed found acceptable (~18).
Overall, the creepiness rule does not accurately represent what people find socially acceptable; people are more judgmental than what the creepiness rule implies.