What's The Ideal Age Gap In A Relationship? It's Not As Big As You Might Think

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You may be familiar with the "divide their age by two and add seven" equation for figuring out if the person you're into is too old for you to date. This test supposedly calculates the youngest age that it is appropriate for a person to have a romantic relationship with. So if you're 23 and your crush is 38, the numbers say it's a no-go. Wait until you're 26, however, and you can start hooking up with 38-year-olds. It's a silly "rule," and it doesn't appear to have any science behind it. The ideal age gap in a relationship is actually much smaller than you might think.

Celebrity couples like George and Amal Clooney (17 years apart) and Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds (11 years) show that there are definitely exceptions to the conclusion below. Power couple Beyoncé and Jay Z are a surprising 12 years apart. Of course, it's not a hard and fast rule, and there are always going to be outliers. The data that is available on the subject of age gaps in relationships is still fairly limited, and the intention of these researchers is more about understanding relationship trends than making a concrete claim about the ideal age gap between partners.

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According to a 2014 study from Emory University, couples with a one-year age difference have a mere three percent chance of getting divorced. When you bump the age gap up to five years, the chance of divorce goes up to 18 percent. A 10-year difference is 39 percent, and a 20-year age gap has a jaw-dropping 95 percent chance of ending in divorce. Researchers analyzed over 3,000 couples for the study, and found that the larger the age gap between a couple, the more likely they are to get divorced.

So it seems that a one-year age gap is the ideal difference in a romantic relationship. Of course, couples with a one-year age difference can and do still go through breakups and divorces. Hugo Mialon, one of the researchers behind the study, addressed the fact that while this data shows correlation, it doesn't necessarily imply causation. "It could just be that the types of couples with those characteristics are the types of couples who are, on average, more likely to divorce for other reasons," he said, according to The Independent.

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Research conducted by Christian Rudder, co-founder of OkCupid, suggests that female users tend to look for men around their age, or maybe a year or two older. Men, however, prefer women in their early 20s, regardless of their own age. This choice may not be ideal for a lasting relationship, as the data from Emory shows.

The overall success of any relationship depends on a few basic components: shared values and beliefs, healthy communication and conflict resolution, trust, intimacy, and the ability to support one another's goals. None of these behaviors have much to do with age, although a large age difference between two people can mean different views of the world and thus the relationship.

Studies show that a one-year age difference is ideal, and that a larger age gap can definitely challenge a couple. Just remember that age is not necessarily an indicator of relationship success or failure — there are a number of other factors to consider. Ultimately, a big age gap between you and your partner doesn't doom your relationship, but it does mean that you both might have to work a little bit harder to feel on the same page. And that's OK — every relationship requires at least a little bit of effort.

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