Is There an Ideal Age Gap Between Romantic Partners?


While some people may say that age is just a number, a new survey suggests that there is an ideal age gap between romantic partners for the most compatibility in a relationship. While personal tastes and attractions may differ, men and women that are closer in age tend to stay together longer.

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OkCupid is a dating website, wildly popular for meeting potential partners and establishing relationships between users. Using the data compiled from the profiles of their members, OkCupid looked into the average age gap between heterosexual users of the service who messaged each other.

There was a distinct difference between genders in the first instance, where men tended to message women younger than them, while women generally messaged men who were very similar in age.

As men grew older, the age of the women they messaged grew younger. By the time a man reached 55, the average age of the women he would message was 47, almost a full decade younger. However, women always generally responded more to men their own age, although they too responded more to younger men after they passed the age of 35.

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Interestingly enough, when women message men first, they are more likely to receive a response from a man younger than them. OkCupid blogger Dale Markowitz gave the example, “A 40-year-old woman will have better luck messaging a 25-year-old man than a 55-year-old one, according to the data. And a 30-year-old man is more likely to respond to a message from a 50-year-old woman than a message from any other age group. When women make the first move, the age gap dating norm is reversed.”

How Divorce Rates Tie In

While this information pertains to the simple act of messaging and communication via the OkCupid service, other studies have delved into the ramifications of a larger age gap among married couples.

The Atlantic published findings in 2014 which stated that “a five year age difference makes a couple 18 percent more likely to get divorced, compared to a couple born on or around the same year.” This data was taken from a poll of American couples and ex-couples. However, they could not prove that age was the determining factor in the relationship ending.

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The Office of National Statistics in Britain looked at similar data and found no link between age gaps and relationship success or failure among their respondents in England and Wales. In another study from Denmark, researchers found that men over the age of 50 who married younger women tended to live longer than those who had wives of similar age. The women, on the other hand, suffered from the age gap, realizing an earlier mortality rate.

Age gaps in relationships may mean something, but they also may not. When dating, finding a partner similar in age can mean that there are more things in common, but if happiness is the only requirement, then age really is just a number.