Since the rise of the “Cougar Era,” it has become increasingly popular for older women to crave, desire, and even hunger for a younger man. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, (yes cougar has made it to the dictionary and they aren’t talking about a mountain lion) a cougar is “a middle aged woman preying upon a younger man in order to seek a relationship, often sexual in nature.”
I will be the first to say… ten years ago I, myself would have been one of those women doing the frowning and looking down their noses at those supposed “cougars” who wished to be with a younger guy. However, at the age of 30 and happily married to a 25-year-old man, I am proud to say “I let all of that go.”
Let’s be clear, a five-year age difference hardly qualifies me as a cougar, but for the most part a man in his early 20’s and a woman in her late 20’s approaching 30 have very different outlooks on relationships and in most cases life.
The night that I met my husband is still very clear in my mind and I remember the days that followed and the anxiety that came with the thought of submitting to a younger man. I had always been attracted to guys at least my age or a little older and as most women, especially African American women, we have a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” a mile long. One of the first “don’ts”on my list was to never, ever date a younger guy. I had kept with that rule all of my life, that was until one night while out riding with some friends and I passed the vehicle of my future spouse. I choked! I could instantly tell that he was younger and I fought with the decision to even speak to him, let alone ever call him. After many nights of literally beating myself up, the rest is history. I like to call it “my happily ever after.”
From the prospective of a woman who once desired a man at least my age, but now has a husband years younger, I would have to say that the stigma associated with older women dating younger men revolves around what we are taught growing up. Our parents teach us to find a man that is able to take care of us whether it be financially, emotionally, and although it is usually unspoken, they hint to sexually as well. They teach us to find a mate that will support us in every avenue that we explore and to not accept less than what we are worth. It is our interpretation of what our parents or guardians tell us that makes the decision in our minds to choose a man who is at least the same age as we are.
Society has shown us and media has depicted it over and over that majority of the time men do not mature as quickly as women, therefore if a man’s biological age is 30, then his mental and emotional age is closer to age 21. Now although this may be true on many occasions, I have found that there are just as many exceptions to that rule. After meeting my spouse-to-be, I was afraid that he would be immature and that it would take him decades to be ready to marry me because of his age. I was also afraid that we would not have adequate conversation because my education surpassed his due to the fact that when I was entering college he was just leaving junior high or I feared he wanted to date me because he wanted some financial security or as some people call it a “Suga Mama.” The only way that I got over these hang-ups was to give it a try. I closed my eyes and fell. Still very aware of the negatives that could come out of such a relationship, I tried to trust in him as much as possible, blindly.
Let’s explore the general thought of merely dating younger guys and leave out the idea of marriage or even a serious relationship. What are older women looking for when they seek out younger men? I like to think that there are three main reasons that make this connection possible.
Excitement & New Experiences
If you’ve ever dated older guys, as I know I have, one of the biggest hang ups about them is that they have already experienced so much and are usually ready to settle down. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does set limits on how a relationship can progress. Younger guys have a tendency to have less responsibilities and want to experience and travel the world delving into all types of exciting obstacles with their mate, so if an older woman is still on-the-go, a younger guy is ideal because he can “shake and move” right along with her.
Cherise Riley, age 36, prefers the comfort of younger guys up to eight years under her. She says, “I prefer younger guys because when I tell them my dreams and passions about life, their eyes fill with excitement as if they are ready to take the world by storm right along with me.” She laughed as she said, “But when I tell an older guy, they usually reply, ‘You’re doing too much!’” Cherise also insists that older men have a tendency to “want to play the father role” and tell her what to do, but she’s just not having that.
Peaking Sexual Drive
The next thing that pops into mind has to be related to the biology of a woman. A woman’s sex drive has been proven to peak in her 30’s while a man’s sex drive often peaks in his 20’s. This alone, gives many women the “go-ahead” to desire a younger man. I mean, who doesn’t want to be totally satisfied sexually? So if by the time a woman is peaking sexually, in order to meet someone with an equivalent drive, one must seek out a man a bit younger in order to achieve total satisfaction.
I thought it would be fun to get input from the younger male’s perspective on this one. Ben Osuji, age 24, says that he prefers older women mostly because he “can learn a lot from them.” He says that he is “infatuated with their natural beauty and style” which is very different than younger women. He finds it astounding how they can bring the “real man” out of him. When asked about sex, Ben notes a distinct difference in his sexual encounters with older women as compared to younger ones. He says, “Older women by far are more experienced and knowledgeable sexually” and this ultimately causes for a better sexual encounter. Now, how’s that for getting it straight from the horse’s mouth?
Easier to Mold
Although many women will never admit to this one, the consensus is that a lot of older women choose younger men because they are still able to be molded into the man that they desire and therefore this must be addressed. “Younger guys can be trained,” says Stephanie Jones, 42. She insists that by dating a younger guy, she can basically help “raise” him and make him into the man that she wants. Now although this would never be my reason for dating a younger man, Shephanie asserts that “its the best quality about them.” She giggles that, “They are less opinionated and more willing to listen to Mama!”
I do believe that there is some truth to what Stephanie says, but of course just as anything else, this does not hold true in all situations. Sometimes a younger man can be harder to deal with than an older one because he is still going through his rebellious phase and doesn’t want to listen to “Mama.” But honestly, there is nothing wrong with what Stephanie said as long as it is not used to harm the young guy. We can all use some mentoring, so it’s not such a horrible thing if it just so happens to come from your older girlfriend… if done with good intentions.
I would have to say that older women, who desire to date and do date younger men have been given an unfair title as a “cougar.” That is a bit harsh in my eyes and unwarranted. However, I do feel that the women who have built their very detailed lists about who they will and will not date, maybe need to re-address the criteria surrounding age. Don’t let what God has for you pass you by just because he wasn’t quite old enough.
Who would have ever thought that I would meet a man five years younger than I who can love me better, both physically and emotionally than any other person on earth despite his age? He’s never lived anywhere other than his mom’s home, but he’s the man when it comes to being the leader of our household and provider for our family. After years of heartbreak and heartaches, tears, battle scars, and war wounds, its this young man who’s five years younger than me who holds my hand so gently, and mend my heart so thoroughly, and ironically teach ME how to love…
Article written by Dr. Zundra B. Sutton