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Whether it’s the new dad George Clooney (56) and his 18-year-younger wife, Amal, or Donald Trump (70) and his First Lady, Melania (age 47), commentators become psychoanalysts, suggesting that the younger woman is clearly seeking a father figure.Similar stories are triggered by the (much less-common) pairing of a younger man with an older woman, as with 39-year-old French president Emmanuel Macron, and his wife, Brigitte, 64.Skentelbery and Fowler wanted to investigate whether it’s true that the women in such pairings were seeking father figures for psychological reasons.Because these relationships are more prevalent when they involve older men and younger women, the authors didn’t perform an analogous study of “mommy figures." If it’s true that younger women in AGRs are seeking father figures, then it would be expected that they would have maladaptive relationships with their fathers which play out in adulthood by their choice of a mate. Mary's researchers used to test this proposition is attachment theory.
Research in this area, accordingly, has sought to distinguish truth from fiction.
Some adult women are assumed to be looking for an older man to financially support a comfortable lifestyle within which to raise children.
In other cases, women are alleged to have selected an older paramour to gain access to resources and connections in order to further their own career, business, or other aspirations.
“Perceived inequity predicts prejudice towards age-gap relationships.” Curr Psychol (2018), https://doi-org.edu/10.1007/s12144-018-9895-6.
After the wedding of a celebrity husband and his much younger wife, media coverage invariably focuses on the inappropriateness of the age gap.
Once a man is literally old enough to be a woman’s father (or vice versa, for older women), public opinion starts to shift from acceptance to skepticism. Mary’s University’s (Halifax) Sara Skentelbery and Darren Fowler examined the phenomenon of “age gap relationships” (AGRs) from an evolutionary perspective, noting that such pairings have benefits in terms of species survival.