Older women dating younger men is always a popular and interesting scenario, so what are the pros and cons of entering into a relationship where age knows no bounds?
Elite Singles wanted to clarify the attraction of older women to younger men, so they returned to the year 2009 when Newsweek famously proclaimed that it was “the year of the cougar.”
The term “cougar” was always a rather crass description of a 40-years-plus woman with a predilection for younger men, but the article in Newsweek provided an interesting explanation as to why younger men were attracted to older women.
Apparently, Hollywood was the main driving force that brought cougars out into the open. Shows like Sex and the City painted a sophisticated picture of a mature woman’s sexuality. And then there was the publicity of Ashton Kutcher marrying the much-older Demi Moore, plus the much-publicized liaisons of stars such as Sandra Bullock, Mariah Carey, and Madonna.
But the word “cougar” is a problem for many people. Salama Marine is a resident psychologist for Elite Singles, and she refers to the term “cougar” as being a prejudicial one.
“Prejudices have a tendency to stick, even if society is changing. Calling an older woman a cougar isn’t meaningless, it’s a way of defining her as a predator who’s only interested in hunting down younger prey.”
In comparison, there is an equivalent expression for older men who enjoy the company of younger women. The term “sugar daddy” certainly has a hidden meaning, but it’s not considered as derogatory as the word cougar. In fact, it’s perceived to be a kind-of reaffirmation of a man’s traditional father-figure role, a provider of material wealth, and of course, the woman’s role as recipient.
In 2006, a team of sociologists at the University of Maine decided to investigate the reality of older women married to younger men. Eight married couples were interviewed where the wife was between 10- and 17-years older than her husband.
The results were interesting: while both partners were content with their relationship, they worried about being judged by others. Women in the relationships expressed concern over the prospect of aging, and how, or if, it would change their partner’s attraction to them.
Forty years ago, Susan Sontag, a writer and activist, wrote The Double Standard of Ageing. In her opinion, mature women are subjected to much stricter norms when it comes to choosing a sexual partner.
“For most women, aging means a humiliating process of gradual sexual disqualification. Society is much more permissive about aging men.”
Salama Marine agreed, noting her opinion that people still tend to be “shocked” when seeing older women dating younger men.
“They might think ‘what if that was my mother, or my son!’”
Milaine Alarie and Jason Carmichael from McGill University carried out research last summer, and discovered that it’s not all doom and gloom for older women.
After retrieving data from the National Survey of Family Growth, Alarie and Carmichael discovered that around 13 percent of sexually active women between the ages of 35 and 44 have slept with a man at least five years younger.
In addition, they discovered that previously married middle-aged women were more likely to seek a younger partner, and that an older woman’s relationship with a younger man usually lasts for around two years – it’s rarely a brief fling.
Interestingly, though, the researchers disproved the stereotype of “rich white cougar.” They were able to show that many of these older women come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, also falling into lower income brackets.
Salama Marine says that part of the appeal for older women to date younger men has to do with compatibility.
“When an older woman looks for a younger partner, she’s probably quite comfortable with her sexuality. It’s likely that she’s already been married or had children. This means that she’s on the same wavelength as her younger companion, who’s probably not entertaining the thought of starting a family.”
And this can be a breath of fresh air for an older woman.
“It enables older women to regain a bit of youthfulness with their partner.”
In many cases, the younger man hasn’t had time to accumulate the emotional baggage that comes with aging. With younger men typically being raised by mothers after the women’s movement, Salama Marine opined that they “tend to be far less sexist than their fathers, and not as preoccupied with money and status.”
Younger men who find older women more attractive than their younger counterparts quickly discover that dating an older woman is definitely not a one-sided affair.
The younger man also stands to gain a lot. With an older woman, a young man can learn a lot about the real meaning of life, both emotionally and physically.
Susan Winter is co-author of the book titled Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance, and says that equality has a lot to do with the attraction between older women and younger men.
“Older successful men are used to being in control of a woman, and that doesn’t sit well with modern women. Younger men have grown up with working women and have worked for female bosses, so they’re more likely to treat women equally.”
The New York Post reported that relationships between older women and younger men can be a perfect match.
Amber Soletti is a 42-year-old event planner in New York who regularly hosts dating mixers. She had no luck dating older men or even men her own age, and even though they were well-established and articulate, she found they had too many issues and she just wasn’t physically attracted to them.
Since she started dating men in their 20s and 30s, she says that her life has never been boring. Noting that younger men tend to be “more active” and with “less baggage,” 42-year-old Soletti said that the chances of dating a younger man who has been divorced, has children, or has issues with his sexual performance are greatly reduced.
“Millennial men are career-focused and want to travel with successful women and conquer the world together.”
Soletti says she’s seen a rapid increase in women signing up for her speed dating events specifically to meet younger men.
Today, fortunately, relationships between younger men and older women are no longer seen as indicative of deep-seated “mommy issues,” with experts saying the dynamic makes perfect sense.
Nicole Wipp is a 45-year-old attorney and entrepreneur, who found a perfect match in her husband, Marcus Sutherland, a 33-year-old paramedic. Describing herself as an “ambition woman,” Wipp said that younger men tend to be more accepting of her, leading to a healthier relationship than with a similar-aged man.
“Dating somebody younger than myself, there’s an acceptance of ambitious women — it’s more normalized. Younger men don’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders yet.”
Initially, she held off dating Sutherland because she really wanted children, and she had to fight her own “mental struggle” that came with dating someone younger than herself.
When their relationship began to develop in 2006, they faced a lot of judgment from friends and family. Interestingly, many of the “boy toy” remarks tended to come from men her own age.
“There’s a threatening aspect to a woman dating a younger man. Everybody thought this was a little phase, that I was just having a crisis.”
Nicole and Marcus were married in April 2010, and they now have a six-year-old son, Marek. Marcus is just as happy in his relationship as Nicole is.
“I love that she loves me so much, and that I mean a lot to her. I can tell because she always makes me feel wanted.”
[Featured Image by sakkmesterke/Shutterstock]