Age Gap Dating Statistics

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7 Interesting Statistics About Age-Gap Relationships (2024)

Jamie Ballard

Written by: Jamie Ballard

Jamie Ballard

Jamie Ballard (she/her) is a professional writer and editor who covers news, lifestyle, and entertainment topics. She regularly contributes to Cosmopolitan, Allure, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, PEOPLE, and The Hollywood Reporter, among other publications.

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Lillian Castro

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Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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Pop culture is full of references to age-gap relationships. They’re a constant topic of discussion on social media, from Sofia Coppola’s film “Priscilla” which explores the age-related power dynamics in Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s relationship, to endless memes about Leonardo DiCaprio’s dating life. 

While the stereotype of an age-gap relationship usually calls to mind an older man and younger woman, there are plenty of women who date younger men. As women have gained more influence and wealth in their own right, we’ve seen more powerhouse women dating younger men. Just ask Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, or Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas.

Why do May-December romances get people talking? Often, it’s the perception that the older person has all the power in the relationship. In some cases, this can be an unhealthy relationship pattern that’s worth discussing. That said, plenty of age-gap relationships don’t necessarily reflect an insidious power dynamic. 

We’ve rounded up interesting statistics and research on age-gap relationships to provide data on the public perception of these pairings and the personal experiences of those in age-gap dating situations. 

1. Around 4 in 10 Americans Have Been in Age-Gap Relationships with a 10+ Year Difference 

According to a poll conducted by Ipsos and Cougar Life, many Americans have been in a relationship with someone who was at least a decade older or younger than they are. In the poll, 27% said they have previously dated someone 10+ years older and 16% said they have previously dated someone 10+ years younger. Fewer said they are currently dating someone 10+ years older (4%) or 10+ years younger (6%). 

age gap relationships stats

Americans in age-gap relationships were also asked about the gender of their older or younger partner. Among respondents whose partners were  10+ years older, the older partner was most often male (63%) than female (36%). Among respondents whose partners were 10+ years younger, 76% said their partner was female and 23% said their partner was male. 

This data suggests that while men are most often the older partner in an age-gap relationship, it’s not particularly rare for older women to date younger men either. Additionally, some of these respondents may have been in same-sex relationships.

2. Same-Sex Spouses Tend to Have a Larger Age Gap Than Opposite-Sex Spouses 

U.S. Census data collected in 2021 revealed some insights about age gaps between married couples. 

Among married opposite-sex couples, 8% have an age gap of 10 or more years. Among same-sex spouses, 20% have an age gap of 10 or more years. 

Another 14% of opposite-sex couples and 20% of same-sex couples have an age gap between six and nine years. Roughly even numbers of opposite-sex (16%) and same-sex (15%) spouses have an age gap of four to five years. Another 28% of opposite-sex spouses and 21% of same-sex spouses have an age gap of two to three years. 

Just over one-third (35%) of opposite-sex spouses said the have an age gap of less than two years; 24% of same-sex spouses say the same.

3. Many Americans Think 6 Years Is the Largest Acceptable Age Gap Between Romantic Partners

Part of being in an age-gap relationship inevitably means wondering what others think of the age gap between you and your partner. A 2018 YouGov survey asked Americans their views on the largest acceptable age gap between romantic partners. Fifteen percent of respondents said four to six years, 12% said seven to nine years, and 15% said 10 to 13 years was the maximum acceptable gap.

age gap relationships stats

About 9% said gaps of 20+ years were acceptable, with men (12%) twice as likely as women (6%) to hold this view. Meanwhile, 4% said romantic partners should be about the same age.

4. Second (or Third, or Fourth) Marriages Are Far More Likely to be Age-Gap Relationships 

Men who are newly remarried (meaning they’ve been married at least once before and got married again within the past 12 months) are far more likely than men in their first marriage to have a spouse who is significantly younger, according to a 2014 article published by Pew Research Center

According to the article, which looked at U.S. Census data, “Some 20% of men who are newly remarried have a wife who is at least 10 years their junior, and another 18% married a woman who is 6-9 years younger. By comparison, just 5% of newlywed men in their first marriage have a spouse who is 10 years younger, and 10% married a woman who is 6-9 years younger.” 

The data shows a stark difference: While 80% of newlywed men in their first marriage have a partner within five years of their age, only 57% of men who are newly remarried have a partner whose age is within five years of their own.

Women are less likely than men to marry someone significantly older or younger when they get remarried. But newly remarried women are more likely than women on their first marriage to have an age-gap spouse. Among newly remarried women, 27% have a spouse who is at least six years older than they are compared with 18% of women in first marriages). And 11% of newly remarried women have a spouse who is at least six years younger, compared with just 3% of women in first marriages.  

5. Physical Attraction Is a Big Appeal for Dating Younger

The Ipsos/Cougar Life poll conducted in June 2023 asked Americans about their perceptions of dating someone 10+ years older or younger than they are. 

Nearly half (46%) of Americans in the survey said they would consider the person’s physical attractiveness a benefit of dating or marrying someone 10+ years younger. Slightly fewer said that the sexual energy or stamina (39%), the open-mindedness (36%), and the free spirit (31%) of a partner 10+ years younger than themselves would be benefits.

age gap relationships stats

What about a partner who is 10+ years older? The majority of surveyed Americans (59%) said an older partner’s emotional maturity would be a benefit when it comes to dating or marriage. Many point to the older partner’s presumed financial freedom (47%), professional success (41%) and sexual experience (28%) as advantages.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. The survey asked about potential barriers to age-gap dating.  About one-quarter (26%) of respondents said they didn’t think they would have anything in common with someone who was at least a decade older or younger. Fewer (17%) said they didn’t think they would be attracted to someone so much younger or older and 16% said an age-gap partner wouldn’t fit in with their friends or family.

6. The Average Age Gap in the U.S. Is 2.2 Years 

A Pew Research Center analysis of 2010-2018 data found the average age gap between couples varies by country and religion, but women are typically the younger partner in those relationships across 130 countries/territories studied.

In the U.S. and China, the average age gap between couples who are married or cohabitating is 2.2 years. Larger age gaps are more common in countries that are part of sub-Saharan Africa. In Gambia, there’s an average of 14.5 years between men and their wives or partners; in Guinea it’s 13.5 years, and in Mali it’s 12.9 years. 

Across religions and regions, women are younger than their male partners. Muslims have the widest spousal age gap, with an average of 6.6 years between men and their wives or partners. Among Hindus, the average age gap is 5.6 years; for Christians, it’s 3.8 years, and it’s an average of 2.9 years for Buddhists. Among the religiously unaffiliated, an average of 2.3 years in age difference separates spouses or cohabitating partners; and among Jewish people, the age difference is an average of 2.1 years. 

So while significant age gaps get attention, relatively small gaps of around two to three years are most typical for couples in the U.S. and many other countries.

7. Marital Satisfaction Decreases With a Large Age Gap

A study published in the Journal of Population Economics found that marital satisfaction significantly decreases in couples who have a large age gap. 

Researchers looking at household panel data from Australia found that in the first six to 10 years of marriage, both men and women experienced higher satisfaction with younger partners than with older or similarly-aged partners. 

After that initial six-to 10-year period, however, the trend reverses. Marital satisfaction declines more rapidly over time for both men and women in differently-aged couples than it does among similarly-aged couples. After six to 10 years, the initial higher levels of satisfaction experienced by people with a younger spouse are erased.

FAQ: Which Dating Sites Are Best for Age-Gap Relationships? 

If you’re looking to meet a match who’s significantly older or younger than you are, many popular dating sites allow filtering by age range.

Match is one well-established option with over 15 million users across generations. The generational split is 32% millennials/Gen Z, 39% Gen X, 27% Boomers. The search filters make it easy to narrow by preferred ages.

Match app open on a smartphone across a laptop keyboard

AgeMatch is another dating site that’s ideal for singles looking for an age-gap relationship. It’s specifically designed to bring together people of different ages, so you can feel comfortable knowing that everyone on the platform is non-judgemental about age-gap relationships. The site has served more than 1 million users so far, largely in the U.S., Canada and Australia. 

AdultFriendFinder is another option for age-gap dating. The site caters mostly to people seeking casual sex and erotic encounters, so if you’re turned on by the thought of a hookup with someone much older or much younger than you are, chances are good that you can find someone to explore that fantasy with here. Additionally, it’s free and easy to use. 

What the Numbers Say About Age-Gap Relationships 

Age-gap relationships are incredibly common in the U.S. and around the world. While the dynamic of an older man and younger woman remains more common, plenty of successful couples are made up of an older woman and younger man. Just look at Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade (10-year gap) or Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa (12-year gap). Same-sex couples frequently have age differences too, such as Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor’s 32-year age gap. 

age gap relationships

While age and life stage can create potential challenges, countless happy and devoted couples prove that a significant age gap is not inherently a barrier to a successful relationship.

At the end of the day, a meaningful connection depends on much more than birthdays. As the saying goes, age is just a number. These statistics reflect that for millions of people, love can conquer generational divides.

Data Sources:

https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2024-02/Cougar%20Life%20Topline%20PDF%202.22.24.pdf

https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2023/08/same-sex-married-couples-age-race-ethnicity.html

https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/survey-results/daily/2018/07/10/0f054/2

https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2014/12/04/tying-the-knot-again-chances-are-theres-a-bigger-age-gap-than-the-first-time-around/

https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2020/01/03/globally-women-are-younger-than-their-male-partners-more-likely-to-age-alone/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6785043/