Mind the age gap

August 12, 2011, 7:54 PM GMT+0

Almost half of British people over the age of 60 think it’s acceptable for someone their own age to date or be romantically involved with someone 20 years younger than them, our poll on dating ages has discovered.

When asked what the youngest and oldest acceptable ages were for someone their age to date, and found the average perceived acceptable age range to be a total of 25 years around your own age (15 years younger and 10 years older). The age range was highest for 40 to 59 year olds at 29 years, compared to just 13 years for 18 to 24 year olds.

  • 57% of British people believe it is acceptable to date or be romantically involved with someone 10 years younger than themselves (43% disagree)
  • On average, just 27% of people think it’s acceptable for someone their own age to date someone 20 years younger, with 44% of over 60s and 40% of 40-59 year olds thinking this is fine
  • 40-59 year olds are most accepting of someone their own age dating someone 10 years younger (74%)
  • While 59% of men over 60 think dating someone up to 20 years younger than their own age is fine
  • Men in general are considerably more accepting than women of dating someone 10 and 20 years younger than them, with 69% and 36% respectively for males compared to 46% and 18% for females
  • When it comes to dating older people, 43% of the public say it’s acceptable to date someone 10 years older, with this option most popular among 25-39 year olds (62%)
  • Most are considerably less keen to date someone 20 years older, with an average of just 15% saying this was acceptable
  • The average total perceived acceptable age range from our results is 25 years (15 years younger and 10 years older than your own age)

Unsurprisingly, the world of celebrity hosts many couples with varying ‘extreme’ age gaps between them.

Hollywood actor Michael Douglas married Catherine Zeta Jones in 2000, and is 25 years her senior; while actors Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford married in 2009 and have a 22 year age gap between them – Flockhart was born in 1964 compared to Ford’s 1942.

Even the golden couple of the music world, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, have a 12 year gap between them.

Partnerships where the female is older are rarer, as was evident when Demi Moore’s relationship with now-husband Ashton Kutcher, who is 15 years her junior, made the headlines when they first started dating in 2003.

According to our poll, just 15% of women think it’s acceptable to date someone 20 years older than them, which may have been the case for Playboy bunny Crystal Harris. The 25 year old was set to marry the infamous 85 year old Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner, but pulled out just days before the ceremony was due to take place. Similarly, the recent wedding of 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchinson and 16 year old aspiring singer Courtney Stodden shocked America and the world, as observers wondered if the marriage was real, consensual or even legal. The couple, however, insists their marriage is genuine and loving – and, because Stodden had full parental consent to wed, entirely legal.