In Figure 1, the solid black line represents the rule’s calculation for the minimum acceptable range.
Men do not show a linear increase in maximum age preference that matches the rule’s predictions.
Instead, men report maximum acceptable partner ages that hover around their own age through their 40s.
For example, this sample of 60-year-old men reports that it is acceptable to fantasize about women in their 20s, which the rule would say is unacceptable.
But fantasies, of course, are not generally subject to public scrutiny and the rule is only designed to calculate what is socially acceptable —so this discrepancy is not necessarily a failure of the rule.
With some quick math, the rule provides a minimum and maximum partner age based on your actual age that, if you choose to follow it, you can use to guide your dating decisions. It lets you chart acceptable age discrepancies that adjust over the years. Researchers Buunk and colleagues (2000) asked men and women to identify the ages they would consider when evaluating someone for relationships of different levels of involvement.