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Age disparity in sexual relationships is the difference in ages of individuals in sexual relationships.
Concepts of these relationships, including what defines an age disparity, have developed over time and vary among societies.
The theory predicts that preferred mate choices have evolved to focus on reproductive potential and reproductive investment of members of the opposite sex.
It was found that for all ages males were willing to accept females that are slightly older than they are (on average 4.5 years older), but they accept females considerably younger than their own age (on average 10 years younger).
These differences may be sexual, financial or social in nature. Socially, a society with a difference in wealth distribution between older and younger people may affect the dynamics of the relationship.
Although the "cougar" theme, in which older women date much younger men, is often portrayed in the media as a widespread and established facet of modern Western culture, at least one academic study has found the concept to be a "myth".
The study found very few instances of older women pursuing much younger men and vice versa.
Within sexual selection Darwin identified a further two mechanisms which are important factors in the evolution of sex differences (sexual dimorphism): intrasexual selection (involve competition with those of the same sex over access to mates) and intersexual choice (discriminative choice of mating partners).