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Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were only seven years different in their ages but apparently believed that it was less socially acceptable for an older woman to marry a younger man, and hence split the difference in their ages and both claimed to have been born in 1914.
There are many factors which draw both young and old into such age-disparate relationships.
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.
Younger partners may be searching for someone who is their superior, either socially or financially more secure, or to provide critical life guidance.
Finally, younger partners may see their relationship with an older person as a way of increasing their status within their society.
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.
They view the generation gap as an obstacle to overcome, especially if they feel they have "missed out".
Historically, unequal pairings are quite common, if not the rule.
In Classical Greece, men would typically marry around the age of thirty, and would take wives in their mid-teens, around half their age.
Sultans from the Middle-East maintained entire harems of much younger women.
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.
This phenomenon is colloquially called "gold digging" when it involves a strictly mercenary attitude about money.