Why do men like younger women?

As a self proclaimed cougar, it might seem odd that I haven’t asked this question before, but perhaps it is because I’m no longer dating younger guys. Rather, I’m seeing a lot of older men falling for “girls” (which I will call them here) in their twenties. Call it the reverse-cougar. 
The reasons seem obvious:
1) Their faces and bodies look younger (read: good).
2) Girls don’t yet have the emotional baggage older women tend to have.
3) Girls are not as threatening as women in their 30’s or 40’s who tend to be stronger and more successful.
4) Girls “have time,” which allows the relationship to develop casually without the pressure of time. A guy can follow the standard chronology of dating, living together, getting engaged, then married with kids – in that order.
5) With a girl, a guy can cling to the idea of having “more than one kid,” as opposed to with a woman in her mid to late 30s.
6) Girls don’t necessarily know who they are yet or what they want, so they’re not imposing it on (or challenging) their boyfriend.
7) Girls look up to an older man who can guide and teach them, and it makes a guy feel manly.
I get it!
But I never thought that there was another appeal: immaturity.
Immaturity is sexy to a guy, because it disguises itself as “mysterious” and hard to read, and the inconsistent behavior that comes along with immaturity plays games with the heart.
Those of you who read this blog know I’ve dated up to three guys ten years younger than me, where the breakups all came for generally the same reason: difference in life stage and experience. Yeah. Duh.  And so ever since my latest cub breakup, you could say I have been avoiding expending energy on guys that are more than five years my junior, by staying open to men forty and older.
While that hasn’t yet proven effective (no new partner has appeared), I’m fine with it. And I’ve made many new friendships with cub-age guys, without any temptation to turn it into more. Besides, most of these guys have girlfriends whom are younger than them, in their mid twenties.
One of them happens to be an ex, who began dating a girl 14 years my junior, and seems to be very happy with her. I’m not jealous or disappointed. I predicted it, and part of me feels a touch of “I told you so.” It only reinforces the reason for our breakup.
A few other guy pals of mine in their 30’s are also in the midst of budding relationships with twenty-five-year olds, and I’ve noticed a kind of emotional obstacle course these girls put them through, ie. a few months into the relationship the girl breaks up with the guy, for reasons that range from jealousy, caprice, or fabricated irrational grievances.  
Guess what happens next? Rather than calling her on it and putting his foot down, or even telling her he is finished, the guy does the opposite. He suddenly realizes he reeeally likes this girl, and must win her back. Suddenly, a guy who wasn’t even sure he was that into her, decides that she could be “the one.”
Why? Is that all it takes? A fight, followed by a breakup and some ego bruising, to poke at a guy’s heart and mobilize him into action?
Maybe these younger and less mature women are onto something. Looking back on my relationship with my ex-cub, I recall being open, communicative, and understanding (and I believe he would agree). He always knew where I stood, even after we broke up. I do however remember him saying one thing that stuck: “You were consistent, Cougel. Being with you was easy.”
Mistake? If I had been a pain in the ass, or dumped him without cause a few times, perhaps we’d still be in a relationship. The thought has crossed my mind.
That’s silly, I know.
Immaturity isn’t apparent to the immature. Whether you’re in a relationship with someone immature, or in an argument with an immature friend, trying to convince them that their behavior is immature, or how it affects you, is futile. Sometimes it can take years, until that person grows up and looks back to realize it.
After my divorce, when the dating scene was brand spanking new to me, I was oblivious to these signs too. I was immature in love, and tended to want the guys who were inconsistent, unevolved, and obtuse with their emotions. I couldn’t read them (or their cryptic texts), and I mistook that confusion for a fluttery feeling, a thrill, which I described as “love.”
Is it frustrating to see these guys getting in a twist over girls who are clearly putting them through the ringer? Yes. But I guess it’s their problem. Or their wish.
After all, I dated younger men for a while and couldn’t see it either. So I understand it. I’m just glad I woke up.
Or grew up.
But to all those girls (and women too) who still behave immaturely in relationships (and I am not saying I don’t go there occasionally too), I might venture to say: don’t fight it too hard. Don’t try to change too much. Because it seems to be working. 
Is it  possible that immaturity can deepen – even mature – a relationship?

If a Cougar stops dating young cubs, is she still a Cougar?

My break up with my cub was due to several differences between us, age and life stage being the biggest. So I’ve since sworn to try to date guys over 35. On my online dating profile, under “age range looking for,” I deliberately wrote “35-51.” This doesn’t mean that if I meet a guy younger (or older) that I wouldn’t be open, but I figured I had to re-start somewhere.

The thing is, it hasn’t stopped the cubs from migrating in my direction or even pursuing me. It’s bizarre. It makes me wonder, is being a “Cougar” in the eyes of the beholder? If I’m not cub hunting – let alone even looking anymore – but the cubs are hunting me, does that mean that I’m a Cougar by default, regardless of intent?

I met a guy a few weeks ago through friends who is 26 (or “26 and 3/4’s,” he explained, as kids do). But he seems much older. He’s sophisticated, wise, and accomplished. When he told friends of mine that he’s looking for an older woman, 35-38, preferably Jewish, they sent me urgent texts: “Cougel! He’s not only a cub, he’s a Jewish cub. A Cougel’s prime target! Get your ass over to this bar right now and meet him!” So I did. My friends were right. The dude is awesome. We totally hit it off.

And yet I’m reluctant to take it further.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been recently burned by the age thing and still healing, or if I’ve wisely learned from my experience and know that practically speaking, it’s unlikely the relationship could go anywhere.

This guy doesn’t care though. He doesn’t seem put off by my reluctance. He doesn’t care how old I am. In fact, he likes it.

It made me stop and think. Is there something intangible about me that attracts younger men? Or,  is there something about younger men that attracts me, despite my decision not to go there?

As I mulled this question over, a chat box popped up on the online dating site I’ve joined (not J-date, but the free one, which is proving to be good for laughs rather than romance). It was from “BoyToy123,” description: straight, single, 24 years old. This was the third time he tried to engage me so I decided to respond and set him straight, like so:

BOYTOY123: Do you like younger men?

ME: Yes but not to date.
BOYTOY123: Ohh. Shucks. Well then what for?
ME: Why, does my profile say I like guys under 25?
BOYTOY123: No. Just figured I’d try. I’m very attracted to older women. And you have a very sexy face.
ME: I dated a guy younger than me and that didn’t work out. So I’m taking a hiatus. Sorry.
BOYTOY123: Well I’m not really looking to date..
ME: No kiddin.
BOYTOY123: …just go out a few times.. see where it goes…
ME: Right. That’s fine. But I’m looking for a long term thing.
BOYTOY123: Ah alrighty
ME: Thx for checking in though, I’m flattered.
BOYTOY123: Ok. If you ever want a young boy toy, let me know!
Yes, that happened.

I can’t help but laugh at the irony. I’m finally ready for a long term partner and open to dating age compatable men, but it’s crickets out there in the wild. Crickets, and apparently, cubs. 

Does this mean that I should stop fighting the laws of nature, and just go with it?



The Jewish Cougar loses her cub...on the Jewish New Year.

Talk about timing. Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year – a high holy day about reflection and repentance – coincides with a significant break up. Is that a coincidence? No Jew would think so.

So timing is what I’m going to talk about here.
But let me back up.
About three months ago, I got back together with my boyfriend. We had been on and off for several years, and our first break up back in February marked the start of my blog. He is ten years younger than me, hence the whole Cougel thing, but for those of you that read my blog regularly, you know that I believe “Cougarness” is much more about attitude, self confidence, and maturity in a woman, than it is about hunting down young cubs.

Is it odd that I never blogged about he and I giving it another go? I meant to, but other interesting blog-worthy events conveniently occurred so I never got around to it. Looking back, I wonder if that was no coincidence either. Perhaps I didn’t know how to share the fact that I was no longer single and “dating” with my readers; perhaps I didn’t know how to balance my private life and public one. Maybe I didn’t want to invade my boyfriend’s privacy. Or, maybe deep down I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to last.
I had posts that I started, touting the benefits of dating a younger man, that now, well, I don’t know if I believe. Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful things, but for me, there were just too many gaps – the difference in age and life experience being one of them – that we thought our love could bridge. But ultimately, like in every relationship, when that “in love” passionate feeling fades, it exposes the divide. I think we both realized that we didn’t have enough in common to bridge it.  It’s likely that we were never bridging it at all; we just stuck a big honkin band-aid over it.
Out of respect to him, I’m not going to get into detail here. But on the evening of Rosh Hashanah, he asked me a question that to him seemed benign, but to me signaled that his head is nowhere near where mine is. He looks at the world as someone in their late 20’s should, and my vantage is that of a divorced woman in her late 30’s.  It seems so obvious now that I guess we should have seen it all along.
Call it a “click” or a clarity cyclone sent from God on Rosh Hashanah, but in less than 24 hours, we went from being in a serious relationship with plans for our future, to being completely over. As in, kaput.  I feel like someone spun me around like a top. For the past few months – for the past year really – I was envisioning a certain kind of future, finally, after not having been able to for years (after my marriage fell apart). It felt good. I was building a nest again, big enough for two…maybe more. But in retrospect, it was made up of intangibles called hope, projection, and fantasy.
Am I okay? Oddly, yes. I mean, it hurts. But I’ve been through much worse. I’ve built up some serious recovery muscles, and I know that I will be fine. Divorce does that to you, in a good way. But mostly, at this point in my life, I refuse to give a relationship (no matter how happy I had been in it) where I invested my time – my precious time – uneccessary weeks of wallowing. While I agree it’s important to grieve and allow oneself to feel sad, in this case, for some reason – and it’s a power that feels bigger than me – I’m over self-pity.  Hey, depression? You can suck it.
Naturally, girlfriends and social opportunities came out of the wood-work. Maybe it’s just that time of year, or fashion week in NYC. But I got out there. Three nights in a row of drinking and partying, and I can feel the effects (as does my writing, so I hope you’re bearing with me on this one. Spell check I love you.)
A writer friend of mine took me out Friday night. Like me, she too had married her college boyfriend and split after 14 years together.  She had an idea: “Let’s go throw our sins into the east river. Let’s go do Tashlich!”  
What’s Tashlich, you ask? No, it’s not another kind of gooey Jewey noodle dish.  It’s part of the whole repentence thing.  That’s about all I knew when I agreed to go. (Mom, don’t be mad. My Jewish education was not a waste! My guilt degree has proven to be quite useful to you.)
So my friend and I bought a sweet challah at Dags and walked to the water.  I marveled at the view, the balmy weather and the fact that I was on the Upper East Side.

When she explained that the goal of Tashlich is to reflect upon the previous year’s sins and symbolically “cast them off” by throwing pieces of bread (each piece represents one sin) into a large, natural body of flowing water, at first I had no idea where to begin. Sins? I didn’t kill anyone. I hadn’t sent my exes hate bombs, or real ones for that matter. I didn’t intentionally screw someone over just for kicks. I think I’ve been respectful to my parents and I honor my neighbors (they are much easier to honor than my last).
And I was loving to – and honest with – my ex-boyfriend.  But had I been honest with myself?
First, we devoured half the challah. We were hungry, and didn’t think we had enough sins to require an entire loaf…evidenced by what I said next: “I can’t think of a single sin. Am I blind?”
And then it clicked.  I was going to start by casting off blindness.
Once we started, it was hard to stop. I thought back on the past year: my relationship with others, with the world, and with myself. And the lessons from my Rosh Hashanah break up began to dawn on me. What I needed to cast off was: Fear of making mistakes. Projecting my needs onto others. More fear (cuz that’s an easy one). Self doubt.

But mostly, I needed to repent for coercing the picture of what my future is “supposed to” look like onto someone else. 

This year, I need to learn how to let things grow and breathe – at their own pace.  Timing is indeed everything, and in this life, that’s all we have. My ex-boyfriend needed to develop on his timeline, not on mine. What’s that saying?  A cub is a cub is a cub. And no matter how much you push, he can’t turn into a bear overnight.

My question to you guys is: if I’m no longer dating cubs, can I still call myself Cougel? :- P

Jumping the Cougar (not in that way).

There’s been talk. About Cougars. Specifically, in reference to this blog. Many of you who meet me exclaim, “You’re too young to be a Cougar!” Your faces twist in confusion, but I detect a hint of anger in there too. What is that about exactly? Is the question really, “If you’re not over forty, like all Cougars are supposed to be, why in the world would you brand yourself as one?”
Good question. I’ll follow up with another: Why should the term Cougar be so rigid, defined as a woman over 40, with a derogatory connotation?
In response, I’d like to revisit one of my first posts (see link below), “Cougar versus Cougel.” I’m not a Cougar as pop culture defines it: “desperate over 40 with bad botox trolling bars for young men” kinda thing. I’m a Cougel; a Cougar redefined. It’s not really about age. It’s about “coming of age.” After you’ve figured a few things out, know yourself, and go after what you want. For some of us this happens at 25 and some at 45. It all depends on what you’ve been through up until that point and how it defines who you are. So what if you’re dating someone who is older than you, or younger? What’s the difference? Besides, shouldn’t it be up to you to define yourself, rather than leaving it up to society and the media?
We are all, whether we admit or not, obsessed with age. The older we get the more we become aware of and feel the passage of time and its implications. Minutes are measured in dog years. We realize we need to be more conscious and deliberate with our decisions. But is that such a bad thing?
Courtney Cox was a “Friend.” We all loved her. Then she got older, and she starred in “Cougartown.” Does that mean that she was selling out, settling? Some people felt she was casting herself in that role – her real life, evolved, older woman self. And once that happened, the whole “Cougar thing” became cemented in our culture.
But that show’s old news. It jumped the shark. For those of you who don’t know what that means, you’re showing your age (insert wink here… or go watch Happy Days reruns). In short, it means something hot has passed its prime, lost its luster, etc. So with that I decree (like I have any power, but it sounds good) the definition of Cougars hereby obsolete! Cougars, the way we once knew them – while not necessarily old in age – are old news. It’s time for an update. Or a remake!
Enter the Cougel. In her thirties, post divorce, with a solid network of family and friends. And Jewish parents who want what’s best for her. And all the good (love) and bad (guilt) that comes with it.
In summary, I believe (and I hope you do too), that this Cougel has jumped the Cougar.
I brace myself for some harsh comments, but I’m used to it. Cougels have thick skin…under all that fur.
PS. More on this subject in one of my first posts with some silly urban dictionary definitions:
http://cougel.blogspot.com/2010/02/some-of-my-friends-are-taking-issue.html