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"Don't call us cougars"

Senior women who date younger men: “Don’t call us cougars.”

Whenever I write about senior men dating much younger women, the majority of responses come

from women. Many women think the guys who try to date considerably younger women are delusional.

And yet, some women don’t have a problem with those guys. However, these women insist on equal time in the women dating younger men side of the fence. Today, six women share their opinions.

Maurya said, “It’s important to look at the other side of the coin, or the reverse situation, which is less common but noteworthy. I know a number of women over 50 (who are divorced or widowed) who are quite happily dating or married to younger men.

“As in any relationship, finances may play some role: younger men may be attracted to the economic security that many older professional women have achieved.

“In this day and age of changing social roles, revised identities, and greater self-awareness, the pre-existing barriers of gender stereotypes and behaviors are beginning to change, thank goodness.”

Stella, who often contributes short, but brilliant comments, said, “Regarding dating and aging: I’ve heard it said that ideally, the age gap should be 5-7 years either way (men or women dating younger). Beyond that, you have to start to question the motives…”

Diane, a friend I’ve known for 20-plus years, emailed, “How about older women dating younger men? It is very liberating, no stress to marry, guys are respectful, the women love it (I know I do). Commitment issues seem to be not so important.

“And please, don't call us ‘cougars.’ It's disrespectful. I am 73 and he is 58. We’ve been seeing each other two to three times a month for four years, met on Senior Date and he contacted me. I was very hesitant for the first five or six dates, but we have the highest respect for and expectations of each other.

“Expectations were outlined as soon as we met: No marriage, can continue to date others if the other wants to. Keep open, trusting, respecting each other as adults. I would never lie to him, or accept a lie from him. Respect is our biggest asset!”

Joanie added, “I had a relationship with a man 14-years-younger. He was a bit immature (although a very nice person) and eventually we had little to share—it almost felt like mommy and son. Both of us needed a relationship with someone closer to our age.

“Music and events related to particular decades are fun to discuss and share, but when the partner is over a decade younger, he might not have been born at the time so he cannot share ‘memories.’ Maybe a five to seven-year age difference would work.

Janice said, “All of us hope our relationships will withstand the test of time. However, the ones with less baggage--such as not having a big age difference--will most definitely have a greater chance of doing so.”

Shelly shared, “I am 68, a widow of two years, retired school teacher and have been seeing a man five years younger for six months. His on-line profile said he likes to walk, swim, travel, dance and that he is ‘playful,’ likes to sing and play the guitar and piano.

“But, we have managed to take only a few short walks together--he usually says he can't walk more because he suddenly feels overheated. We went on four 4 half-hour bike rides and then he said his hip hurt so he can't ride a bike anymore. He takes a long nap every day. Sleeps 9-10 hours a night! I never nap and sleep only 5-6 hours a night. He watches a lot more TV than I do.

“We have yet to travel anywhere together because I refuse to go on a trip with him unless and until we can spend more than three consecutive nights together. He lives an hour from me and usually comes over on Saturday and spends three nights at my home then we start to get on one another's nerves and so he leaves! Why do I keep seeing him?”

Tom’s comment: Since Shelly and her guy get on each other’s nerves after three days together, that would be my question as well: “Why stay together?” At a luncheon for Greta’s family and relatives a month ago, I was seated next to one of her cousins. I told the woman that Greta and I had just taken a 51-day trip together. She looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh, you two must be really good friends to be able to be together for such a long period of time.”

So, yes, I was wondering why Shelly wants to keep seeing this guy.

Shelly explained, “He tells me he admires my intelligence and asks my opinion on many things. We are on the same page as far as politics, music and humor go. He is very playful and funny-we laugh a lot together! He always says he misses me when we are not together. And, I miss him as well and wish we could spend more time together.”

Tom’s comment: When Shelly and her boyfriend are together for three days, each needs to have their own interests and they should take some breaks away from each other. Perhaps they can extend their tolerance of each to a long enough period that they could take a week’s vacation without getting on each other’s nerves.

I endorse and support older women dating younger men. If compatibility is present, a reasonable age difference (10 years or less) doesn't matter much. It is good that the pre-existing barriers, as Maurya pointed out, are beginning to change and that older women dating younger men is becoming more acceptable in a society that can be stuffy and narrow-minded at times.

Maurya is also right about the financial part of it. That often plays a role in relationships where there is a significant age gap. That doesn’t mean dating someone considerably younger is wrong, it’s probably understood between the two that financial security is one of the motives. As long as the financer is okay with that.

And since the word “cougar” is unacceptable, what can we call women who date younger men? Perfectly normal human beings, of course! And what is a good name to call a relationship where an older woman dates a younger man without being demeaning to either: A "Cougar-Cub" dating relationship. That's rather cute.

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