Is 4 Years and 4 Months the Ideal Age Gap for couples?

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She married someone 25 years her senior but Catherine Zeta-Jones has still made it work...

Catherine Zeta-Jones at 2013 oscars

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Tons of research has been done to uncover just what it is about older men that enthrals women, but only now has someone discovered the 'ideal age gap' for lovers.

According to a survey by Confused.com four years and four months is the ideal age difference for a relationship – as long as the man is older than the woman.

More than 2,000 adults were asked what makes the ideal age gap for a couple – and while just under half DON'T feel there is such a thing, the most popular answer was the man being 52 months older.

In fact around a third (30%) of women said they would be content in a relationship with a man up to seven years older, while a similar number would also happily look for a prospective life partner in the 55-70 male age bracket.

The research also revealed that 35% of women who see a couple with a much older man assume he must be "very rich", while around 18% admit they think "it won't last". A staggering 24% of women think a woman who dates an older man must be a gold digger!

In reality, it's these sorts of attitudes to age differences that impact relationships the most. Instead of focussing on the person, the importance seems to rest on their numerical value alongside an uncomfortable level of social stereotyping.

Why should a woman who's in a happy and loving relationship with a younger man instantly be branded a 'cougar'?

To give you a sense of age gaps, we've compiled a list of celeb couples who've defied 'the rules' and married someone younger or older than themselves...

1. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (man 25 years older)
2. Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Johnson (woman 23 years)
3. Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart (man 22 years)
4. Jason Statham and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (man 20 years)
5. Banker Olivier Sarkozy and Mary-Kate Olsen (man 17 years)
6. Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox (man 13 years)
7. Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles (man 12 years)
8. Joan Collins and company manager Percy Gibson (woman 32 years)
9. Deborah Lee Furness and Hugh Jackman (woman 13 years)
10. Anne-Marie Duff and James McEvoy (woman eight years)

TV relationship counsellor Julia Cole told us, "Age gap relationships can bring with them issues that are not often considered when the couple first start seeing each other. If the age gap is fairly wide – more than ten years - and the relationship grows into a commitment, it is important to talk about attitudes to money, expectations of family life and what parents, siblings and friends will think about an older partner in their life as well as yours."

Take the Confused.com Age Gap quiz here.

What do you think about age gaps in relationships? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below...

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