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Women generally begin to lose fertility as they enter their late twenties, and lose it completely after menopause, while men remain almost fully fertile until much later in life.Evolutionary psychology suggests that people are more likely to be attracted to people who look like they might be fertile.Widely-varying age of consent laws have been passed to deter adults from entering sexual relationships with underage minors.There is also the issue of whether all age-disparate relationships fall under the definition of paraphilia.As is speculated with other practices considered paraphilia, sexual imprinting may play a role in age-disparate relationships.
There are many factors which draw both young and old into such age-disparate relationships.
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.
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.