Dating

Cougars: What’s in it for the Boys




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There are several reasons why a younger man might brave the stigma and date an older woman. Some are more pragmatic than others.

There’s the prospect of wild, no-strings sex with a newly uncaged divorcee who doesn’t want commitment just yet. Also, an older woman is often less needy about her insecurities simply by virtue of having had longer to deal with them. (This is what “mature” meant before it was associated with adult diapers.) And she won’t bend a man’s ear with trivial chatter about clothes, gossip and people he doesn’t know. People are just more interesting at 40 than they were at 20. Even a younger man can appreciate that.

For instance, here’s a poster on a forum called RelationshipTalk.net:

“I’m 29, will be 30 in May, and I’m seeing a woman who is 42. Even though we are just dating for a bit of fun, I do like her a lot, and the reason I go for the older woman is because a lot of younger girls in their 20s play too many mind games … too much drama, and … not as experienced in the bedroom!!”

While that may be a view from the shallow end of the dating pool (not surprising from a twentysomething), the perspective’s slightly different from an older man. Mark Pasquinelli is a photographer living in Eastern Pennsylvania, and his wife hardly qualifies as a cougar. But she’s older and had arguably had more maturing life experiences when they started dating.

“Never dated an older woman before,” he writes. “I was 40, and she was 46. The relationship sorta crept up on me. I was the last one to figure out what was happening.

They met at a job he was trying to leave, so he didn’t pay much attention to her. He moved to South Carolina, but they stayed in touch by phone, and when he came back to visit the next spring, they began seeing each other – about every six weeks for the next two years. He moved closer, but the relationship was still long distance for another two years – until they married in 2005. What kept the flame burning all that time?

Neither one of them dated anyone else during those years apart. Mark hung out with a female friend who knew about his faraway romance, but “even early in the relationship with Karol, I knew she was the one and there was no way I could have cheated on her.”

One reason Mark was hooked was that “Karol didn’t do that orchestrated ‘come closer; get away’ dance that other (younger) women had done. There weren’t any mixed messages, no ‘what did she mean by that?’ thing. Maybe being married before made her much more direct.”

That said, it felt odd at times. “Having no children, it’s a little weird sleeping with a grandmother, which she became a few months after we married. The six-year gap actually seems about right to me. Don’t women live about six years longer than men? That puts our expiration dates in close.”

As pedestrian as that sounds, it’s a mindset that lasts longer than wild sex. And that’s what a cougar-cub relationship needs if it’s going to last longer than a hot fling. The odds aren’t good, and the facts are facts: online dating services report that men overwhelmingly seek younger women. Worse, a 2010 study by researchers at the University of Chicago and Duke found men “consistently dislike older women.”

Still, generalities don’t tell the whole story, and there are younger men who are devoted to their older partners.

Actor Hugh Jackman’s wife is 13 years his senior, and the couple has faced fertility issues and her decision to quit her own acting career to be a full-time mother to their two adopted children. Plenty of young hotties would get in line to give Hugh a baby (or at least give it several tries), and he works long hours with gorgeous young actresses. Is he sorry he married an older woman?

“What I always do on every film is we’ll all go out and have a dinner together,” he told Katie Couric. “Any of [his female costars] meet Deb, they’ll all prefer her to me.”

“When I met Deb, I don’t know what it was. It was the clearest thing in the world for me. I knew 100 percent…I’ve never known anything as confidently or sure in my life that she was the one I was going to be with…Whatever happens, I know we’re going to tackle it together. Truly she’s the greatest woman I’ve ever met.”

Think how exciting it would be to hear those words come out of your man – especially if he looked like Hugh Jackman. And hey, failing that, there’s always, “Baby, I’m ready to go again.”

More from DAME: Dating a Younger Man: The Rules

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