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Many psychologists study the phenomenon of age disparity, and have observed certain extremes of the above referenced behavior.
They have coined a number of terms to describe various types of psychological preferences : Of these, pedophilia has attracted a great deal of attention in the western media, especially since popular use has merged the concept of ephebophilia with that of pedophilia, which has become known as attraction to any individual considered too young to consent to sexual relations.
Certainly, anyone deliberately looking for a mate to breed with must pick someone of an age of likely fertility.
Moreover, senior men, even during prehistoric times, often had access to relationships and resources which would allow for them to foster the growth of their offspring.
Age disparity in extreme cases may be seen as dysfunctional (a paraphilia) if such relationships are pursued to the exclusion of all others and to the detriment of the partners.
The term alphamegamia can be used when a person is sexually aroused by partners of a different age group, and "chronophilia" can describe a sexual fixation on members of a different age group.
In keeping with modern American mores, a folk formula (sometimes referred to as the Trophy Rule) seems to have evolved so as to compute correct disparities of age between older and younger partners, this being "divide by two and add seven", that is, the younger partner in a relationship should be at least seven years older than half the older partner's age, else the relationship is liable to be subject to moral disapprobation.
The United States Census Bureau's March 2000 statistics show that only 800,000 unmarried American couples are more than five years divergent in age, and 7 in 100 of women who have married more than once have a husband six or more years younger than they.
Other historical examples include John Rolfe and Pocahontas, and Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder (both ten-year differences) in America; William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway (eight-year difference) in England; and Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, was 15 years younger than his first wife Khadija.
Many arranged marriages have been age-disparate, with the husband being much older than the wife.
Mail-order brides have been frequently younger than their husbands.
Age disparity in same-sex male relationships was even more historically common than age similarity in such relationships.
(Such relationships were practised in Ancient Greece, pre-Modern Japan, Melanesia, Islamic lands and Renaissance Italy.) Monarchs have traditionally exercised the freedom to choose younger spouses; Henry VIII, for instance, chose women far younger than himself as some of his wives, and a number of female monarchs have chosen younger consorts.