How important is age and dating? A Dutch guy lost his bid to legally lower his age – Hack
Emile Ratelband is just shy of turning 70, but he feels much, much younger. He reckons his age is holding him back.
“I feel I suffer under my age,” he said.
So he brought on a lawsuit in his home country, the Netherlands, to legally lower his age by 20 years.
“We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can’t I decide my own age?”
On Monday, the court chucked out the case, saying it has no legal basis.
The court said a lot of laws are based on age – things like voting, marrying and drinking – and allowing Emile to pick and choose his age would have “undesirable legal and societal implications”.
‘I don’t want to lie on Tinder’
Part of the reason Emile, who refers to himself as a positivity trainer, said he wanted to change his age was because he thought being younger would give him an edge in the dating game.
“If I go on Tinder, I get women [aged] from 68 or 69, when those women are there,” he said.
Emile has seven children from his three previous marriages, but wants more.
He reckons changing his age will open those doors for him with younger women.
“When I am 49 again, I’ll have a baby again, I will buy a new car again, I will paint my house again, I will go outside and invest my money again.”
If I have that age again, I have hope again. I’m new again, and the whole future is there for me.”
How important is age in dating?
Dr Ian Stephen, an evolutionary psychologist from Macquarie University, said Emile’s case was “quite funny and cunning”.
He said age is a big factor in getting more dates – if you’re a woman.
Why? Because studies have shown that women tend to rate men as the most attractive when they’re roughly the same age as them, but men don’t.
“If you look at the men women find the most physically attractive, the best looking… what you see if that if you start off at 18, that they’re preferring men who are a few years older than them,” Dr Stephen said.
“Around age 40, it flips and they prefer men who are slightly younger than them. But throughout their lifetime it’s not hugely different to their own age.”
“If you look at the age of women that men find most physically attractive, then when they’re 18 it’s women who are about 20; when they’re 30 it’s women who are about 20; when they’re 40 it’s women who are about 20; when they’re 50 it’s women who are about 20,” he said.
Dr Stephen said that comes down to perceptions of fertility.
“[For] women their peak fertility is about 25,” he said. “So what we think is going on is men’s brains have evolved to be quite attuned to women’s ages because you’ve got a much better chance of mating or partnership resulting in offspring if you’re attracted to women in their 20s.”
Of course, we’re talking specifically about physical attraction here. People can and do take into consideration other factors like personality, shared values and wealth and status when picking a partner.
But when it comes to pure looks, the studies highlight clear evidence that age is a big factor for men when they date.
What about age gaps?
Pop culture is littered with examples of older men with younger women.
The current President of the US, Donald Trump, is 72; his wife Melania is 48. Former actress-turned businesswoman, Mary-Kate Olsen, is 32; her husband Olivier Sarkozy is 49. And serial offender Mick Jagger is 75, while his current partner Melanie Hamrick is 31. To put that in context, Jagger’s oldest child is 48.
There are examples of famous women dating much younger men – 36-year old Priyanka Chopra just married Nick Jonas, saying their 11-year age difference is “no big deal”. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, met his wife Brigitte Trogneux when he was 15. She was 25 years older… and his high school teacher. They’ve been married for 11 years.
But as Dr Stephen explains, these pairings are not all that common.
Another 50 to 60 per cent of marriages in Australia involve a man being at least two years older than the woman, he said. The remainder – ten to 20 per cent – are women who are two or more years older than men.
“The bigger age gaps are also extremely skewed to the man being older,” Dr Stephen said.
In fact, a recent article published in The Conversation crunched the numbers on this.
It found that fewer than one in ten hetero marriages (the data on same-sex marriages is extremely limited at this stage) involve a couple with an age gap of ten years or more. But of those, only one per cent were older women with younger men.
“What these trends tell us is that the majority of the population is likely to partner with someone of similar age,” author of the article, Dr Gery Karantzas from Deakin University, wrote.
“This largely has to do with having social circles that generally include peers of similar ages and being attracted to others who are similar. Similarity entails many things, including personality, interests and values, life goals and stage of life, and physical traits (age being a marker of physical appearance).”
The prevalence of a large age gap varies depending on culture, too.
“In some non-Western countries, the average age gap is much larger than in Western countries. For example, in some African countries about 30 per cent of unions reflect a large age gap,” Dr Karantzas wrote.
Of course, none of this is a judgement call on people’s relationships – you often just fall for who you fall for, and one relationship is no better or worse than another.
But it does explore an interesting trend.
“When looking through an evolutionary lens, for men physical appearance is connected to age and other things thought to be cues for the health and fertility of the woman,” Dr Stephen said.