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.
But fantasies, of course, are not generally subject to public scrutiny and the rule is only designed to calculate what is socially acceptable —so this discrepancy is not necessarily a failure of the 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.
In other words, while the rule states that 40-year-old women can feel comfortable dating 27-year-old men, this does not reflect the social preferences and standards of women.Women in their 40s think that approximately 35 or older is acceptable for marriage or a relationship.Women’s preferred minimum partner age: Below are the data from Buunk et al.’s (2000) study on women’s minimum age preferences; the rule’s age calculations are represented by the solid line.In general, the figure shows that women are reporting minimum age preferences that the rule’s predictions.Even when fantasizing, such women’s minimum age preference remains over 30.
The rule’s calculated minimum acceptable partner ages seem to fit men better than women.
After 40, maximum age preferences for most categories remain lower than their own age.
Thus the rule for maximum ages is fairly ineffective at capturing what men actually believe is acceptable. Now let's apply the rule to actual dating behavior by examining George Clooney’s dating habits.
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).
By the time of their separation in 2011, however, Kutcher, then 33 had crossed the minimum threshold (31.5) defined by the rule. Curious outsiders are quick to judge when they can see a wide age gap between two romantic partners. In a world in which many social norms are often unspoken, the half-your-age-plus-7 rule concretely defines a boundary.