What is a Cougar?
Yes, we all know a cougar is an animal, but it is also the term used to describe older women who date younger men. For some women, it is an unwelcome stereotype in a world where it is acceptable for older men to date younger women, no matter how large the age difference. They do not like the term because they feel it implies how old they may be. Others are proud to be a cougar and are always on the prowl for a little fun.
In a survey conducted by AARP The Magazine in 2003, 34 percent of women over the age of 40 are dating men who are at least 10 years their junior. This same survey concluded that the divorce rate has played a role in women age 50 and over becoming a cougar.
What Attracts a Cougar?
In the 2003 survey conducted by AARP, the biggest complaint 35 percent of single women age 50 and over made about dating men their own age was the baggage they carried from previous relationships. Many cougars aren't interested in listening to the music from their college days; they want to know what's new and exciting. Younger men are able to offer them both the excitement they are looking for minus the ex-wife and the kids.
What to Expect
If you are a young man who finds himself attracted to a cougar, be prepared for an independent woman. According to clinical psychologist Nancy D. O'Reilly, "Older women are confident, sexually mature, they don't have inhibitions, they know what they like, and they know what they want." In short, older women may be looking for simple companionship and a sexual relationship without any commitment.
To Marry or Not to Marry
The term dating, when used to describe the relationship between an older woman and younger man, can be used to describe a one-night stand, a fleeting love affair or a long-term commitment. According to the U.S. Census, 12 percent of marriages are between older women and younger men; this would imply that many of these non-marital relationships are for fun and companionship.