04
Mar
11

the half-age plus seven rule

Reader M. A. writes:

A friend of mine who is 40 is dating a girl who is 22. His friends (including myself) are all in our late 30s/early 40s, and while she’s pretty hot and smart, it still icks us out. Are we just a bunch of old fogies being jerks, or is he violating some rule by bringing this girl around?

Dear M.A.:

I’m going to state for the record that yes, you are an old fogey. And you may just be jealous that he can still score hot young chicks and you can’t. (Notice I’m not saying that women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s can’t be smoking hot, please. ‘Cause I know plenty.)

But you’re also right. He is violating a rule. It’s not necessarily a rule he may know about, and there aren’t any laws about it, but it’s a pretty good rule I think many people follow, even unconsciously, as they decide who to date in life, and how not to be a creep.

So if we’re going to impose rules on our loving, then I guess the half-age plus seven rule is as good a rule to live by as any.

If you are incapable of clicking on that Wikipedia link, I’ll tell you the general premise:

It is acceptable to date anyone younger than you as long as they are no less than half your age plus seven years. On the flipside, it is acceptable for you to date anyone older than you as long as your age is at least half theirs plus seven years.

Make sense?

math

Yay math! Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So your friend is 40. According to our rule, his acceptable dating age range would be (40/2 + 7 =) 27 and older for the youngsters, and (40= x/2 + 7 (solve for x)…) 66 and younger for the older age of the spectrum. (Yes, I did have to pull out a sheet of paper and utilize my seventh grade algebra skills, so thanks, Mrs. Cook!)

Your friend is obviously dating someone who is five years too young for him, according to our rule. And if your friend believed in this rule, then you could ridicule him incessantly for breaking it.

According to this rule, your friend is a creep, and you guys have every right to be icked out by his relationship.

But if there’s one thing we all know we can’t control (maybe), it’s who we fall in love with. You can meet someone who’s practically perfect in every way on paper, and find there are no sparks off the page. And you can meet someone who is just clearly wrong for you and fall head over heels without warning. It’s all chemistry (plus good lighting and probably alcohol, in many cases), and there isn’t much anyone can do about it.

It’s possible he’s just dating this girl because she’s, ya’ know, hot. (The story goes that when Lauren Bacall started dating Humphrey Bogart, she was 19. He was 44. She told her mom, “He likes me! He really likes me!” And her mom said, “You’re 19. What’s not to like?”) In which case, it’ll fizzle out when she gets bored of his taste in music (“What, no Ke$ha?”) and he gets tired of her not getting his jokes. Possibly your teasing will help highlight to him the generational disparity in their tastes, and push the break up right along.

Or it’s possible they’re just one of those odd couples who are going to work out, regardless of generational differences or what the world thinks of them. In this case, you can make fun of your friend mercilessly, but that may just drive him closer to his newfound beloved. They may just start seeing themselves as a team — us against the world!

Like I’ve said before, you can’t tell someone who’s in love that you don’t like their beloved without endangering your friendship, so if he’s really sold on her, you’re just going to have to get used to it. Of course, if you think there’s anything to be concerned about (is he acting differently? dressing younger? not hanging out with his friends as much? doing things you don’t think he enjoys just to keep up with her?), let him know, even if it could mess up your friendship.

If this is just some weird crisis thing he’s going through (after a recent break up with a serious gf, perhaps? or a divorce? or the loss of a parent?), the whole relationship isn’t fair to the young lady, either. When a relationship isn’t right, sometimes we need our friends to pull us back to reality. He could use your help in this situation.

Otherwise, you could be a real pal and just watch as their relationship develops, and possibly get to know her. Maybe you’ll find she’s an old soul. And maybe you’ll get over the ick factor. If it’s meant to be, they’ll be together, whether you, the rules, or anything else likes it or not. And if it’s not meant to be, their relationship will end, possibly in a fireworks show, at which point you can thank them for the entertainment, at least.

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1 Response to “the half-age plus seven rule”


  1. 1 Consuelo
    March 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I only date chicks that are no less than -3 Kat Cox’s hotness level.


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