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In its earliest appearances, this rule is often cited as having French origins, although this citation always seems to appear in English-language (British or American) sources, leaving its true origin mysterious.
Another, somewhat vaguer metric often cited is declaring an age gap creepy when a partner is "old enough to be your mother/father," carrying with it as it does implications of symbolic Parental Incest or Wife Husbandry.
(One common criterion for compatibility between prospective marriage or romantic partners is the difference between their ages.Similarly, in his autobiography, George Arnold Escher (1843-1939, father of famous artist M. Escher) claimed that when he was looking for a wife ca.1880, he thought that the ideal ages for husband and wife at marriage would be if the woman's age was half the husband's age plus 10. Self-made graphic, with layout partially influenced by the PD image en:image: Half Plus Seven Graph 2.In its first known appearances (in the book Her Royal Highness Woman by Max O'Rell, "The little shepherd of Kingdom Come" by John Fox, and the 1951 play The Moon is Blue by F.Hugh Herbert), it's stated or implied that at the beginning of a relationship or marriage, the woman's age "is supposed to be half the man's age, plus seven", which gives a different (asymmetrical) interpretation to the rule.