The title of this piece was one of my past lovers favorite role-playing sexual fantasies. She was a 45-year-old sex therapist, and I was a 26-year-old college student (a.k.a. Lawnmower Boy). For a 20-year-old woman to date a 40-year-old man, it is not such a big deal. But swap genders, and suddenly you have a recipe for sharp whispers and long stares.
That’s not the way it is supposed to be. Didn’t we grow up with the star quarterback finding his cheerleader in chemistry class? He’d drop a toad down her blouse, she’d burn a hole in his letterman’s jacket with the Bunsen burner, and the two would fall in love, marry, and make beautiful babies.
But what happens when that quarterback ends up working at the local Chicken Lick’in for the next 15 years, only being promoted once from the dancing chicken costume? Or how about that cheerleader, who after bearing 13 children finds her once perky pom poms, drooping below her knees? This is traditionally the time when the quarterback finds himself a new, younger model, and the cheerleader finds love in her much older (and richer) man.
They will then both go on to live their happily ever after. But what if that cheerleader does not want to follow the 1950’s model of social expectations and baby making? Instead, she goes out and finds a guy 15 years her junior. She is suddenly labeled a cougar, and he… a fool.
Road to Cougar-ville
The divorce rate is extremely high in America, today. Statistics show that for every 1,000 couples, at least five will fall victim to a permanent separation, while the worldwide average remains at only 1.3 per 1,000. This means there are a relatively large number of mature, single, widowed, and divorced adults looking for companionship.
In a 2003 pole of single women over age 40, it was found that 34 percent were dating men up to 30+ years younger. Having been there and done that, I can tell you that this is no accident. It wasn’t that there just happened to be a shortage of mature men in town. These relationships can be a huge attraction from both ends of the spectrum.
Cougar vs. Her Youth
The young man, to a cougar, represents youth, energy, enthusiasm, and freedom (no excess kids, meddling ex’s). According to an AARP study, one of the biggest complaints
(35 percent) of women dating men their own age, is that they have too much excess relationship baggage. In addition, many also feel that these men are just not as fun as they used to be.
The younger man is hip, up to date, and wide-eyed to the the world. Many cougars accuse men their age of being stuck in their glory days, wearing the same football jersey, listening to the same old music, and perhaps even wearing the same damn underwear since 1968. Women are very different from men this way. They like to keep up on the latest fashions, embrace the new.
When the Bruce Springsteen single, “Glory Days,” drops off the record selection of the jukebox at the local men’s bar, there is hardly a dry eye in the place. It is just the way we are. This is why older men gravitate towards younger women. It is yet another means of holding onto those years long gone. But what’s the attraction of older women to the young guy?
Young Man vs. Growing Up
The cougar is sexually experienced, beautiful, uninhibited, knows what to say, and will appreciate a young man like a doting mother over her prized son. But the main attraction of a cougar is her attitude on dating. Men are biologically designed to chase and conquer. But once they have conquered, they are drawn to move on and spread their seed to other newly harvested pastures.
Younger women, on the other hand, are often biologically inclined to feel the need to nest and raise a family after procreation. This can put some casual relationships in an unhappy standoff. The cougar and young man, are in a sense, in the same place in life. He is on the prowl for sex; she is too. She does not expect much from him; nor he from her. These relationships are often based on simple, no strings attached sex.
She may already have grown children, and is completely self supporting, but most of all, she knows what she wants and how to get it. When the two meet, he is enthralled with her worldly knowledge and experience. She knows how to cook (something that is becoming a dying tradition), sew, read Korean, jump the stoplight in a 4-speed 1968 GTO, and when it comes to the bedroom, she can pleasure him like no other. She is his teacher, lover, caretaker, and second mother.
The sugar mama (a.k.a. cougar with bling) poses extra danger to the younger man, by putting herself in the position of maternal caretaker. It is, after all, in a women’s nature to take care of the helpless and infantile (a word used to describe some guys under the age of 30).
Many immature men who find themselves in a long-term relationship with a sugar-coated cougar, are chosen in particular to be at the crossroads between a boy and a man. He is unsure of himself, struggling to find his place, and she seems to hold all of the answers. She wines him, dines him, tells him how wonderful he is. It is not so much that she truly mothers him, as he is still very much a sexual object, but rather guides him, or should I rather say, controls him.
She tells him where he should work, what he should eat, what friends he can go out with, and what time he has to be home. If they are living together, she may use the fact of his dependence on her for food and shelter to leverage her control. While not all cougars have sugar (money) and are controlling, many will use this to their advantage.
A single, divorced, or widowed mature woman, who is still considered “sexy,” often becomes the center of whispers and hurtful jokes at family gatherings. Some women are just sexy at any age. They have meticulously cared for themselves their whole life, and therefore have the pick of the liter when it comes to men. They may not always choose younger men, but that option is there, and many friends and family frown upon that.
While most men who are considered cougar chasers, are more than happy to share their conquests among friends, the cougar herself, will be less inclined. A 50-year-old woman seen with a 30 year old man, is considered scandalous, and therefore not something she will want to advertise.
While his friends may hop aboard his decision, his parents will be much less enthused. Considering the age similarity of a cougar to his own mother, his mom may see her as competition for a starring role in her son’s life. She will not express this, but instead choose her words more carefully, such as, Isn’t she a little too old or Don’t you want to have children someday? The father will just stay out of it, realizing that he probably isn’t qualified to add anything to the argument.
His grandparents will be none too happy either, but not because they see her as competition, but rather for biological factors. The younger the woman, the more chance a couple is going to have to produce a plentiful herd of offspring. Back in our grandparents day, these herds were important to perpetuating the species. Today, not so much, but some habits die hard.
Trouble In Paradise
The family factor will put weight on the relationship, and often will be the final blow to its already, topsy-turvy nature. To the benefit of these relationships, many an immature boy has been brought to full manhood under the watchful guise of a cougar. It was here I learned to be an adventurous lover, responsible partner, and loving father.
She once said to me, “I will train you–make you into the man of my dreams, and some other young woman will enjoy all that I have created.” This prediction proved true, and we did not end up together, but not by my own choice.
Some cougars are just as immature as the cougar chasers. They enjoy control over the boy, but once he becomes a man, she is back in the bar looking for a new lost puppy to bring home. Cougars may be trophies to men, but these men can also become pets to the cougar, cuddled, then thrown back in their cage.
I have many fond memories of my experience with that 45-year-old sex therapist. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for her influence. I do, however, recognize the nature of these relationships and the tumultuous social situations and perpetuation of dependence they leave behind.
My advice: Try it for the sex, but buy into the love story at your own risk.