With some quick math, the rule provides a minimum and maximum partner age based on your actual age that, if you choose to follow it, you can use to guide your dating decisions.

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Now we can see how well the rule corresponds with people’s reported acceptable ages.

Men’s preferred minimum partner age: Let’s start with minimum age preferences reported by heterosexual men.

In Figure 1, the solid black line represents the rule’s calculation for minimum acceptable range.

You can see that men are basically operating by the rule for minimum age preferences for marital relationships (blue bars) and serious dating relationships (yellow bars).

What is the acceptable minimum age for your own (and others’) dating partners?

When this question comes up in conversation, someone inevitably cites the “half your age plus seven” rule.

This rules states that by dividing your own age by two and then adding seven you can find the age boundary: Take your age, subtract 7, and double it.

So for a 24-year old, the upper age limit would be 34 (i.e., 17 * 2).

Those age preferences consistently hover around the values denoted by the rule (the black line).

If anything, in practice men are than the rule would designate appropriate.

For example, this sample of 60-year-old men report that it is acceptable to fantasize about women in their 20s, which the rule would say is unacceptable.