Does The Ideal Age Gap Reveal We're Financially Dependent On Men?

The age difference in a couple

According to new research, four years and four months is the ideal age gap. But who should be older?

Love knows no age, right? Not according to this survey. asked 2,000 adults what they thought was the ideal age difference is in a couple and most respondents answered: four years and four months, with the man being older.

What does this mean about our views on love? If we go by these numbers, apparently, not a lot has changed from society's outdated notion that a man is expected to be the provider in the relationship. Most people still believe that a romantic relationship is ideal when it's between an older man and a younger woman. Not to mention, the "cougar" and "gold-digger" stereotypes are, sadly, alive and well. Both men and women seemed to share the same opinion: only 1% of women think that an ideal relationship is with a younger man and just two percent of men said something similar about dating an older woman.

But besides all of that, why the "four-and-four" number? What is it about four years and four months that makes this the magical age gap for couples in love? When I dug deeper into the details of this study, one small fact caught my eye … and you might say it has something to do with dollar signs.

Over half of the women surveyed said they couldn't pay their rent or mortgage without their romantic partner. Compare that to how many men responded in the same sentiment: less than a quarter.

It's no surprise that financial stability has sometimes been the glue that's kept couples together (whether that's really advantageous or not is a different matter). Especially in the wake of the recession, when divorced couples were even sharing the same living space and in, essentially, the same arrangements they had when they were married.

As a woman, I'm hesitant to say that this study accurately reflects how most women feel about dating. (After all, what proud, independent woman in this modern day would want to admit that she's dependent on a man for anything?) But if the findings from this survey truly reflect our reasoning for picking a partner, why are we — as women — allowing the numbers in his bank account dictate matters of the heart? I think it might be more fairly accurate to say that women admire a mature, independent man over an obnoxious, younger self-described "bachelor" who has no aspirations to move out of his mom's basement.

Women want their lifelong partners to be just that — their equal partners. It's not entirely about money; it's about self-composure and personality too. So I would like to think that this is a reflection of maturity over money … that way, I feel a little more justified in my preference for a silver fox.

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