Age disparity in sexual relationships

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Significant age disparity in sexual relationships has been and remains a feature of couples in many cultures and societies. Historically the most common pattern in heterosexual couples is an older man with a younger woman[1]; although the average age gap between men and women at marriage has been narrowing as women have gained greater financial independence.[citation needed] This may be brought about as an arranged marriage, or either member may pursue and initiate this relationship. 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 most societies.[2][3]


[edit] Motives

Factors leading into a search for a significantly younger or older 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, while older mates are perceived to have greater resources, wisdom, or sexual knowledge.

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 that is outside their own age group.
  • Ephebophilia is the attraction of older individuals to adolescents.
  • Hebophilia is the attraction of older individuals to pubescent youths.
  • Pedophilia is the attraction of older individuals to pre-adolescents.
  • Infantophilia is the attraction of older individuals to small children (ages ranging from 0 to 5).
  • Gerontophilia is the attraction of non-elderly individuals to the elderly.

[edit] Age disparity as an indicator of paraphilia

There is also the issue of whether age-disparate relationships are a significant indicator of paraphilia. Individuals who exclusively pursue age-disparate relationships may be 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.

[edit] The "half-your-age-plus-seven" rule

Graph of the "half-your-age-plus-seven" rule

The "half-your-age-plus-seven rule" is a rule of thumb in Western cultures defining a mathematical formula to judge whether the age difference in an intimate relationship is socially acceptable.[4][5][6][7][8] Mathematically speaking, the rule is:

{\text{Age of Younger Individual} \ge \cfrac{\text{Age of Older Individual}}{2} + 7 \text{ years}}.

[edit] Slang terms

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

  • Boy toy or toy boy[9] – a much younger boyfriend or husband of an older woman. In male-male relationships, a toy boy (sometimes toy boi) characterizes the one who is (and usually enjoys being) used for sexual gratification.
  • Cradle robber or cradle snatcher[10] – a man (primarily, but could refer to a woman) involved with a much younger individual.
  • Chickenhawk – an older gay man who sexually pursues younger males, i.e. "twinks"/"chickens" or underage boys.
  • Cougar – an older woman who sexually pursues men at least eight years her junior.[11] The term has been used in (American) TV series, advertising and film. The 2007 film Cougar Club was dedicated to the subject. It is also featured in the recurring Saturday Night Live sketch "Cougar Den".
  • MILF (an acronym of "Mother [or 'Mom'] I'd Like [to] Fuck", widely-used idiom that was popularized in the 1999 film American Pie) – a sexually desirable older woman, though not necessarily one who has children. The term is used frequently as a descriptor of pornography featuring older women. By 2008, the term was familiar enough to be used on the television series 30 Rock (episode "MILF Island") without necessitating its definition (which would have violated Federal Communications Commission rules). The 'M' is replaced by 'G' (for 'Grandmother') in the case of women who are in their mid-50s or older, and/or are actual grandmothers; thus, GILF (or G-MILF). The male counterpart terms are DILF[12]–for Dad–within the gay community and FILF[13]–for Father–in the straight community. Other variations have also been used - A 2008 Vice Presidential nominee was described as a VPILF, although technically she was also a GILF.[14]
  • Jailbait – a sexually attractive person (primarily female but could refer to a male) who is below the legal age of consent. This designation connotes enticement to endanger oneself of being prosecuted for statutory rape. This term is commonly only used for teenage girls who "flaunt their looks".
  • Lolita – 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[citation needed], "Lolita" has come to be applied to older adolescents and young women in the context of pornography.
  • May-December romance – a relationship in which the age differential between the two adults is wide enough to risk social disapproval.
  • Sugar daddy – 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 enjō kosai.
  • Sugar momma – the reverse of a sugar daddy - a rich older woman that spends lavishly on younger men for companionship and sex.
  • Troll (gay slang)

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "More women marrying younger men". BBC News. 12 December, 2003. 
  2. ^ Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters, American Psychological Association, February 1998.
  3. ^ Levesque, Roger J. R. (1999). Sexual Abuse of Children: A Human Rights Perspective. Indiana University Press. pp. pp1,5-6,176-180. 
  4. ^ [1] Danchai Mekadenaumporn, "Sex and the Saferide. Better with Age." The Tech (newspaper) , Massachusetts Institute of Technology vol 142, issue 3, February 10, 2004. retrieved July 24, 2007
  5. ^ [2] Catherine E. Toth, "About women: Not dating may reveal the secret to what dating's really about." The Honolulu Advertiser November 12, 2002. retrieved July 24, 2007
  6. ^ [3] Stuart Peters, news and current affairs commentator, online column, Manx Radio, Isle of Man, July 24, 2007. retrieved July 24, 2007
  7. ^ [4] Lerwick Trevor, "Golden Jubilee NHS National Hospital." BBC Scotland, January 31, 2007. retrieved July 24, 2007
  8. ^ [5] xkcd comic 314
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Are More Older Women With Younger Men? 'Cougars' on TV and in Real Life Find Romance Overcomes Age Gaps". ABC News. 2005-05-05. Retrieved on 2008-02-24. "describing women usually in the 39 to 60 range" 
  12. ^ Fleshbot staff (2004-08-11). "DILF Hunter". In Brief. Fleshbot. Retrieved on 2008-10-31. 
  13. ^ Lux Alptraum (2008-10-29). "FILF: Fathers Ffinally Get Their Due". Porn of the Moment. Fleshbot. Retrieved on 2008-10-31. 
  14. ^ "VPILF". Retrieved on 2009-04-08. 
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