Age-gap relationships usually refer to an age difference of at least 10 years between partners. In general, the definition of age-gap relationships and what is and is not acceptable varies based on a person's sex, age, and cultural norms.
Griggs emphasizes the importance of \"ongoing conversations about your priorities and expectations while remaining open to listening to your partner.\" She encourages her patients not to lose sight of their individual paths, which can sometimes happen in these relationships when one partner ends up focusing on the other's timeline more than their own.
In sexual relationships, concepts of age disparity, including what defines an age disparity, have developed over time and vary among societies. Differences in age preferences for mates can stem from partner availability, gender roles, and evolutionary mating strategies, and age preferences in sexual partners may vary cross-culturally. There are also social theories for age differences in relationships as well as suggested reasons for 'alternative' age-hypogamous relationships. Age-disparate relationships have been documented for most of recorded history and have been regarded with a wide range of attitudes dependent on sociocultural norms and legal systems.
Relationships with age disparities have been observed with both men and women as the older or younger partner. In various cultures, older men and younger women often seek one another for sexual or marital relationships. Older women sometimes date younger men as well, and in both cases wealth and apparent physical attractiveness are often relevant. Because most men are interested in women in their 20s, adolescent boys are generally sexually interested in women somewhat older than they are. Older men also display an interest in women of their own age. However, research suggests that relationship patterns are more influenced by women's preferences than men's.
There are complex and diverse reasons that people enter into age-disparate relationships, and a recent review in the Journal of Family Theory and Review showed vast differences across contexts. Explanations for age disparity usually focus on either the rational choice model or the analysis of demographic trends in a society. The rational choice model suggests that people look for partners who can provide for them in their life (bread-winners); as men earn more as they get older, women will therefore prefer older men. This factor is diminishing as more women enter the labor force. The demographic trends are concerned with the sex ratio in the society, the marriage squeeze, and migration patterns. Another explanation concerns cultural values: the higher the value placed in having children, the higher the age gap will be. Yet Canadian researchers have found that age-disparate couples are less likely to have children than similarly aged ones. As people have chosen to marry later and remarriage becomes more common, the age differences between couples have increased as well.
In a Brown University study, it has been noted that the social structure of a country determines the age difference between spouses more than any other factor. One of the concerns of relationships with age disparities in some cultures is a perceived difference between people of different age ranges. These differences may be sexual, financial or social. Gender roles may complicate this even further. Socially, a society with a difference in wealth distribution between older and younger people may affect the dynamics of the relationship.
The evolutionary approach, based on the theories of Charles Darwin, attempts to explain age disparity in sexual relationships in terms of natural selection and sexual selection. Within sexual selection, Darwin identified a further two mechanisms which are important factors in the evolution of sex differences (sexual dimorphism): intrasexual selection (involves competition with those of the same sex over access to mates) and intersexual choice (discriminative choice of mating partners). Life history theory (that includes Parental Investment Theory) provides an explanation for the above mechanisms and strategies adopted by individuals, leading to age disparity in relationships. Life history theory posits that individuals have to divide energy and resources between activities (as energy and resources devoted to one task cannot be used for another task) and this is shaped by natural selection.
Buss and Schmitt stress that although long-term mating relationships are common for humans, there are both short-term and long-term mating relationships. Buss and Schmitt provided a Sexual Strategies Theory that describes the two sexes as having evolved distinct psychological mechanisms that underlie the strategies for short- and long-term mating. This theory is directly relevant and compatible with those two already mentioned, Life History and Parental Investment. Males tend to appear oriented towards short-term mating (greater desire for short-term mates than women, prefer larger number of sexual partners, and take less time to consent to sexual intercourse) and this appears to solve a number of adaptive problems including using fewer resources to access a mate. Although there are a number of reproductive advantages to short-term mating, males still pursue long-term mates, and this is due to the possibility of monopolizing a female's lifetime reproductive resources. Consistent with findings, for both short-term and long-term mates, males prefer younger females (reproductively valuable).
In contrast to above, in short-term mating, females will tend to favour males that demonstrate physical attractiveness, as this displays cues of \"good genes\". Cues of good genes tend to be typically associated with older males such as facial masculinity and cheek-bone prominence. Buss and Schmitt found similar female preferences for long-term mating which supports the notion that, for long-term relationships, females prefer cues of high resource capacity, one of which is age.
In Western societies such as the US and Europe, there is a trend of smaller age-gaps between spouses, reaching its peak average in Southern Europe of 3.3 years. Using the same pathogen-stress model, there is a lower prevalence of disease in these economically developed areas, and therefore a reduced stress on reproduction for survival. Additionally, it is common to see monogamous relationships widely in more modern societies as there are more women in the marriage market and polygamy is illegal throughout most of Europe and the United States.
There may be many reasons why age-hypogamous relationships have been less frequent until recently. Sexual double standards in society, in particular, may account for their rarity. In many contexts, ageing in women is seen to be associated with decreased sex appeal and dating potential.
There is debate in the literature as to what leads to age-hypogamy in sexual relationships. A number of variables have been argued to influence the likelihood of women entering into an age-hypogamous relationship, such as racial or ethnic background, level of education, income, marital status, conservatism, age, and number of sexual partners. For example, US Census data show an exaggerated sex ratio in African American communities, whereby there were 100 African American women for every 89 African American men. It was shown that African American women were more likely to be in age-hypogamous or age-hypergamous marriages in comparison with White American women. However, more recent evidence has found that women belonging to racial categories besides African American or White were more likely to sleep with younger men, showing that it is still unclear which, if any, ethnic groups are more likely to have age-hypogamous relationships.
Another example illustrating the varying literature surrounding age-hypogamous relationships is research indicating that a woman's marital status can influence her likelihood of engaging in age-hypogamous relationships. Married women are less likely to be partnered with younger men compared to non-married women. More recent findings suggest that previously married women are more likely to engage in an age-hypogamous sexual relationships compared to women who are married or who have never been married.
Despite social views depicting age-hypogamous relationships as short lived, a 2008 study from Psychology of Women Quarterly has found that women in age-hypogamous relationships are more satisfied and the most committed in their relationships compared to younger women or similarly aged partners. It has also been suggested that male partners engaging in age-hypogamous relationships are choosing beauty over age. A recent study found that when shown pictures of women of ages ranging from 20 to 45 with different levels of apparent attractiveness, regardless of age, men chose the more \"attractive\" individuals as long-term partners.
ObjectiveThe purpose of this study was to examine race, ethnicity, and age differences in the association between social relationships and body weight in a nationally representative sample of African American, Caribbean Black, and non-Hispanic White adults. Methods: Data were drawn from the 2001-2003 National Survey of American Life (N = 5684). Multiple linear regressions were conducted to examine the links between race, ethnicity, and age with social relationships and weight. Results: Although African American respondents had higher BMI than non-Hispanic White respondents, Caribbean Black respondents did not differ from White respondents in BMI. Emotional support from family members was both positively and negatively associated with weight depending on age, race, and ethnicity. Discussion: Social relationships are an important contributing factor to obesity and obesity-related risks in adults. Study findings demonstrate the intersection of race, ethnicity, and age and how these complex relationships influence the association between social relationships and body weight. 153554b96e