Cougar relationships seem to have become a trend now with mature women increasingly going out with men several years their junior. While they have existed earlier too – think Raquel Welch and Mae West - perhaps it is now that they are coming into the limelight after celebrity cougar relationships like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher began to be covered by the media and shows like Cougar Town began to get high viewer ratings.
The term cougar refers to a 40 plus woman who is sexually interested in younger males, typically eight years her junior. A cougar relationship is thus one between a mature woman and a much younger man. The term appears to have been coined by a Canadian dating website but it gained popular currency as it was picked up by advertising, movies and television series. In 2007, a film titled Cougar Club was released based on relationships between older women and younger men. This year there have been popular series like The Cougar and Cougar Town aired on television.
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So what is it that attracts older women into a relationship with younger men? Here are some reasons why mature women seem to be increasingly getting hooked to the role of a cougar.
Younger men are more sexually desirable
A major attraction of cougar relationships is the sexual aspect. As women enter their 40s, they experience a surge in their testosterone levels and are more confident of desires. Ironically around the same time men’s levels are dipping which tones down their libido. This may be one reason why older women are attracted to younger males who can give them a better time in bed that aging males ridden with midlife crisis cannot. In fact the cubs too find the self-assurance and sexual confidence of older ladies a huge turn-on so that the relationship turns out to be mutually satisfying.
Not every woman is looking for a father figure
Many women in their 40s and above have already made a mark in their professional fields. These successful women are used to taking decisions on their own as well as managing subordinates and co-workers. It is difficult for them to suddenly fit into the role of helpless females looking to be bailed out by a father figure. These self-assured women will thus be more comfortable with younger men who would look up to them and appreciate the position and success they command.
A younger companion is a big ego boost
With increasing years, many successful and mature women may feel a need to be seen in the company of much younger men. This may be their way of proving that they are still sexually desirable and showing to the world that they still have what it takes to attract younger, good-looking males.
How about a trophy boyfriend?
If trophy wives are the sign of ultimate luxury for older, successful men, then why not the same for women. Ladies who are in their prime of their professional and social lives often like to show off the much younger boyfriend they can afford. It is not only a mark of their material and social success but also a public advertisement, as it were, of their own sexual desirability.
The charm of the metrosexual male
For women in their 40s who have grown up with Archie Bunker, the young metrosexual male is like a breath of fresh air. He is politically correct to a fault and does not make mother-in-law jokes like the 40 plus men. The younger man is well-groomed and has clean, pedicured toenails which make him a delight in bed. He is also in touch with his feminine self and can whip up an exotic Thai red curry in half an hour’s notice. All these make him much preferable to the older man whose idea of a night out is watching a game of football while scratching his beer belly.
While there may be many appealing aspects to the cougar relationship, how feasible are they in the long run? All said and done, the basic premise of cougar relationships is sexual attraction, which in itself can be an insufficient reason to form a long-term attachment. Here are some other problems that cougar relationships may face in the long run.
Lack of companionship
Cougars and cubs belong to practically two different generations. It is unlikely that they will share the same kind of interests and pursuits. Sexual attraction can do only so much to keep a couple together. To be in a long term relationship it is essential that two people share common values, life goals and enjoy the same kind of social activities.
Growing impact of age disparity
Yet another challenge that cougar relationships have to deal with is the effect of age disparity with increasing years. Granted that women in their 40s have what it takes to attract twenty-something males, but what about when these women enter their 50? Will they continue to have the same hold on their men who may be just getting into the prime of their lives? It will be increasingly difficult for partners to deal with feelings of insecurity, jealousy and possessiveness that such a wide age gap is bound to entail.
The question of children
A mature woman may find genuine happiness with a younger man. But if she wants children from the relationship, how feasible will it be for a twenty plus man to take on the role of a father? Indeed if the man is himself yet to grow up emotionally, it is doubtful whether he will be able to fulfill the responsibilities that come with being a father. Again if the woman already has children from a previous marriage, it may be difficult for them to reconcile to the fact that their mom’s partner is barely older than them.
And yet despite these challenges, the growing popularity of cougar relationships is proof enough that it may be more than a fad. In fact some of the celebrity cougar relationships have made the trend much more socially acceptable and reduced much of the stigma that came with an older woman-younger man pairing.
One of the most high profile cougars today is Hollywood actress Demi Moore whose much publicized romance with teen star Ashton Kutcher raised eyebrows when it began but their subsequent marriage is evidence that cougars and cubs can find true happiness. Yet another female star Halle Berry proved critics wrong when she at 41 years decided to go ahead and have a baby with 31-Year old partner, Gabriel Aubrey. Dancing star Paula Abdul shares a rocking relationship with her beau J.T.Torregiani despite the fifteen-year age difference. And the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston continues to wow men, older and younger, with her new arm candy John Mayers who is nine years her junior. If nothing else, the high-profile cougars of today have made it clear that mature women have as much right as anybody to have a mutually fulfilling relationship with men of different age groups. And whether or not the relationship can be a long term one, ultimately depends on the kind of equation between the partners involved.