# Age disparity in sexual relationships

Significant age disparity in sexual relationships has been and remains a feature of couples in many cultures and societies. The most common pattern in heterosexual couples is an older man with a younger woman. This may be brought about as an arranged marriage, or either member may pursue and initiate the relationship. Relationships involving a younger male and an older female also exist, and while not as common, have become considerably more common in recent years. Homosexual relationships of both sexes may also exhibit age disparity; when between an adult male and adolescent boy, the term "pederasty" is sometimes used, especially in European historical context. In extreme cases, age disparity may be seen as dysfunctional (a paraphilia) if such relationships are pursued to the exclusion of all others and to the detriment of the partners. Sexual relationships involving an adult or adolescent and a prepubescent child are defined as child sexual abuse in all modern societies.

## Motives

Factors leading into a search for a younger individual with whom to share an intimate relationship can vary wildly. A common perception is that younger mates serve the purpose of a "trophy", or object of status.

Many psychologists study the phenomenon of age disparity, and have observed certain extremes of this behavior.

• Chronophilia is a general term, applied to any age-related preference.
• Ephebophilia is the attraction of older individuals to adolescents.
• Infantophilia is the attraction of older individuals to small children (ages ranging from 0 to 5).
• Pedophilia is the attraction of older individuals to pre-adolescents.
• Gerontophilia is the attraction of non-elderly individuals to the elderly.

#### Age disparity as paraphilia

There is also the issue of whether all age-disparate relationships fall under the definition of paraphilia. Individuals who exclusively pursue age-disparate relationships are generally classified by psychologists as parasexual, that is, their behavior is qualitatively different from the norm. Individuals who occasionally pursue age-disparate relationships are not included in this category, except in the popular press. As is speculated with other practices considered paraphilia, sexual imprinting may play a role in age-disparate relationships.

## Social criticism

In some societies age-disparate relationships are seen as aberrant or even perverse. Historically, the "gold digger" mentality, when one member of a couple uses the other romantically or sexually because of his or her material wealth and social power, has been frowned upon as being akin to prostitution. The age difference that is generally accepted by modern Western society varies directly with the age of the individuals involved in the relationship; larger differences are more acceptable with older individuals. For example, while an eight-year difference might be considered unacceptable between a 23-year-old and a 15-year-old, it is less remarkable between a 30-year-old and a 22-year-old, and generally unnoticed completely between a 58-year-old and a 50-year-old.

### The "half-your-age-plus-seven" rule

The "half-your-age-plus-seven rule" is one rule of thumb defining a mathematical formula to judge whether the age difference in an intimate relationship is socially acceptable. It should be noted that the lower one's age, the smaller the age difference can be, thus rendering this rule questionable for anyone less than 19 years old. Mathematically speaking, the rule is:

$\ge \cfrac + 7\right\}$

## Slang terms

A number of slang terms exist to describe pairings in which one individual is much older than the other:

• Boy toy or toy boy is sexual slang referring to a much younger boyfriend or husband of an older woman.
• Chickenhawk describes an older gay man who sexually pursues younger males, i.e. "twinks"/"chickens" or underage boys. The term was used as the name of a television documentary on the subject of NAMBLA.
• Cougar refers to an older woman, usually in her 30s-40s who sexually pursues younger men in their 20s or early 30s. Term used by TV series 30 Rock (episode "Cougars"), How I Met Your Mother (episode "Aldrin Justice"), Supernatural (episode "Red Sky at Morning"), the NBC reality TV show Age of Love, jPod and One Tree Hill.
On film, it was used in 2004's ''National Lampoon's Going the Distance'' and in 2007's ''Ocean's Thirteen. The 2007 film Cougar Club'' was dedicated to the subject - its plot was about two males creating a club where parties are thrown where male members get the chance to meet and have sexual encounters with "cougars".
• Jailbait refers to a sexually attractive person, female or male, below the legal age of consent. This designation connotes enticement to endanger oneself of being prosecuted for statutory rape.
• Lolita refers to a sexually precocious young girl who is the object of desire of a significantly older man. As used in the English language, the term refers to the title character of Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, who is referred to by the book's narrator, Humbert Humbert, as a nymphet. While "nymphet" is still used to refer to younger children, "Lolita" has come to be applied to older adolescents and young women in the context of pornography.
• May-December romance is a romance in which the age differential between the two adults is wide enough to risk social disapproval.
• '''' - (Mother/Mom I'd Like to Fuck) refers to mothers (or middle-aged women) who attract the sexual attention of younger men. This acronym was popularized by the movie American Pie'' and is frequently referred to in pornography. It also occasionally spawns analogous letter-ILF acronyms. It is frequently misinterpreted to mean any woman who has a child at any time (and is thus a mother) no matter her age, but the classic meaning implies someone who is old enough to be the phrase-speaker's mother. As the speaker is likely to be at least 14 years of age (post-pubescent) a MILF cannot realistically be any younger than 32 years old (this assumes the woman in question had children when she was a minimum of 18 years old.)
• Sugar Daddy refers to a rich, usually older man who offers money or gifts to a less rich, usually younger person in return for companionship or sexual favors. This differs from prostitution in that the older man is usually the sole financial provider to the younger person. In Japan, there is a loosely similar practice known as enj? kosai.

• Ageplay
• Child sexuality
• Generation gap
• Enjo k?sai
• Historical pederastic couples
• List of films featuring May-December romances
• Marriageable age
• *

• Pederasty
• Trophy wife