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Deakin University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.View current jobs from Deakin University The Conversation is funded by the National Research Foundation, eight universities, including the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the Universities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Pretoria, and South Africa.In some non-Western countries, the average age gap is much larger than in Western countries.For example, in some African countries about 30% of unions reflect a large age gap. And do couples with large age gaps experience poorer (or better) relationship outcomes compared to couples of similar ages?A factor that does impact on the relationship outcomes of age-gap couples is their perceptions of social disapproval.That is, if people in age-gap couples believe their family, friends and wider community disapprove of their union, then relationship commitment decreases and the risk of break-up increases.

So, women’s attunement to status and resources might explain why some women may be attracted to older men.But when it comes to our own relationships, both men and women prefer someone their own age, but are open to someone 10-15 years their junior or senior.While there is variation across cultures in the size of the difference in age-gap couples, all cultures demonstrate the age-gap couple phenomenon.That is, the extent to which someone has “good genes” – indicated by their attractiveness and sense of energy (also known as vitality) – and the extent to which they are a “good investment” – indicated by their status and resources as well as their warmth and sense of trust.Although men and women place importance on a partner who is warm and trustworthy, women place more importance on the status and resources of their male partner.

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