Today's post is an extract from my book Why We Love the Way We do, which is a non-fiction book on relationships. It was among the top 5 highest selling non-fiction titles of 2015.
When the question of who is too old for you and who is too young for you to date is asked, invariably the half-your-age plus seven rule comes up as an answer whether you are a man or a woman. So if you are a 42 year old woman, you can date any guy who is 28 or older. If you are a man who is 30, you can date a woman who is 22 or older.
Who made this rule up? The origin of this rule is hard to pin down, but it finds mention in the 1953 film The Moon is Blue, where Maggie McNamara twenty-two, asks her suitor who is thirty, ‘Haven’t you heard that the girl is supposed to be half the man’s age plus seven?’ This rule also finds mention in the popular television series, How I Met Your Mother.
The exact opposite this rule defines the upper age limit to determine the ‘oldest person you can date’. Here you double your age and then subtract seven find out the oldest someone you date should be, ideally. Thus according to the rule, if you are a 32 year old woman you cannot date a man who is older than 57.
I find that these ‘rules’ really cannot be applied to any relationship to determine the age limit. For rules to be applicable they have to be consistent. But these rules are not consistent as the pair grows older. To elucidate, let us take the case of a person who is currently twenty-six. As per the rule, he cannot date someone who is nineteen. But when the person turns twenty-eight, then the pair qualifies to date as the other person is now twenty-one. Thus, if this rule is followed strictly, a person can ‘qualify socially’ to date another who is older within just a year or two, if their ages currently fall within an ‘unaccepted’ range. How can your personality or other parameters necessary for a good relationship actually change that much within such a short span?