Sex Relationships

This is the ideal age gap for a successful relationship

There's always a debate around age gap romances. Are they inappropriate? Do they actually make for better partnerships? Surprisingly, science has a lot to say on the matter.

Age gap romances always spark a debate.

There are usually two camps: those of us who have witnessed an age gap romance first hand (perhaps we were in one), know they can work and defy anyone who says they can't; and those who just find the whole concept a little bit creepy. 'What could they have in common?' 'One of them's in it for the money,' etc.

And it seems whether you're into sugar daddies or toy boys, you're the brunt of someone's criticism, with both Madonna (who dated a man 20 years her junior) and Mary Kate Olsen (who is married to a many 20 years her senior) receiving equal backlash for their choice of man.

But is there anything to be said about the 'ideal' age gap between partners?

Science says yes.

The shorter the age gap, the less likely the split
The shorter the age gap, the less likely the split

A study from Emory University in the US showed that couples with a one year age difference had just a three per cent chance of divorcing. Compare that with the 18 per cent chance of divorce for a five year age gap, and 39 per cent for a ten year one, and we're talking a serious correlation.

In fact after analysing 3000 couples, researchers found that the larger the age gap, the more likely a split was to happen.

Perhaps you're not surprised by this, so the next question really is why do they split?

Evolutionary psychologists have plenty of theories about why age gap romances happen, especially when we're talking a younger woman and older man. But they have less to say about why they might fail.

Younger, fertile women have a limited window to reproduce, while men can remain fertile well into midlife. By this point, they've accumulated resources, meaning they're the perfect, stable mate for a woman looking to settle down and raise children.

And while science doesn't have the answer to why these age gap romances break down, the takeaway is that one year is the optimum age gap between partners for a long lasting relationship.