Times are changing. As the benefits of age gap romances are being scrutinized by the media and even studied by psychologists, it's becoming more socially acceptable to date outside your age group. An established woman, for example, looking for a younger man, is nothing the world hasn't seen before. In fact, they have their own name: cougars. No one is sure where the term "cougar" originated, but it's only one of many to describe an older woman who is sexually desirable to younger men (or chooses to date them exclusively). Others include:
Regardless of the label, the cougar phenomenon is very real, and some studies are even suggesting they enjoy a greater success than regular relationships! It's a common misconception that cougars are sad, desperate, middle aged women. In reality, cougars tend to feel *better* about themselves than other women their age. By dating younger men, they feel more youthful, more fun, and they have more confidence in themselves not only as people, but as romantic partners. They feel desirable. They feel in control. They enjoy the feeling of being the dominant partner, something they can't get from conventional relationships - the feeling of being the older, more established, more successful side of the couple. Essentially, it's the same high as a sugar daddy, only gender flipped.
Society has hard-wired women to feel worse about themselves as they age, but the psychological effects of dating a younger man can almost completely reverse that. Here are women hitting thirty, forty, even fifty, and by dating the right men they're still considered as attractive and admirable as their ingenue days. That's an incredible confidence boost. And it's a known fact that when you feel good about *yourself*, you'll feel better about your *relationship* - confident, happy people make confident, happy couples.
But the benefits aren't only being observed in the women. A cougar relationship can be a mutually beneficial one, with the younger man gaining ego, status, and bragging rights of having a mature woman. They'll enjoy a greater confidence and financial security from an established, usually wealthier partner. And sometimes they simply enjoy the sophistication that an older woman brings. After all, not all young men are drunken frat boys looking for the nearest keg. Some are after the same things women want - maturity, security, and a deeper connection than a casual fling with someone their age. Older women have more life experience and are less likely to make the mistakes of their younger counterparts, as well as being healthier, more self-assured, and more adventurous on the whole. Some cougars can even teach their boys new tricks!
Cougars also gain an edge over regular relationships when you consider what they have to offer emotionally. Women are supposedly the mysterious sex - entire bookshelves can be filled with planet metaphors - but when it comes to men, they can be equally unsure. How do they attract a guy? What do they have that men want? Once they find one, how can they keep him?
Cougars already have the answers to those questions. Younger men look to them for guidance and security. A cougar who takes care of her man already knows what she has to offer - someone to look up to, someone to depend on. An emotionally nourishing presence. Military boys are a good example of this. As part of the army/navy/marines, they travel frequently and never have a chance to lay down roots, leaving them detached from the world at large. They're often disconnected from women their own age, both by physical distance and the experiences they've been through. Though they'd never admit it, they crave affection and companionship from someone on their level.
Enter cougars. An older woman can offer military men the kind of company they crave - someone nurturing, almost mothering, who can make them feel good about themselves while still being a viable sexual partner. Cougars are equally as enamored with the possibilities of, ahem, "men in uniform." Here-today military men pose no risk to their existing relationships while giving them a chance to spread their wings over someone who needs exactly what they have to offer. It may sound like a small thing, but never underestimate the appeal of knowing exactly where you stand in a relationship.
Still not convinced? Just take a look at all the successful cougars in Hollywood. Demi Moore is sixteen years older than Ashton Kutcher, yet they've been going strong since 2005. Sandra Bullock has almost never dated within her own age bracket. Older women, especially high profile, professionally successful women, are increasingly looking to younger men to fulfill their needs. Courteney Cox has made an entire career - and successful show - out of being a cougar. They no longer have to "settle" for someone beneath them. Even Angelina Jolie, one of the most beautiful women in the world, has looked over men her age and said "nahhhh."
Cougars are here to stay. These relationships aren't just a trend or an amusing fetish, and they go beyond Hollywood fads. With the amount of research going into cougars, and the health and success observed in their relationships, there may just be a day when mothers are encouraging their daughters to wait until they're forty to get married.