The cougar myth …

Courtney Cox - The Cougar When the saying ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ was coined, I don’t think women being called cougars and depicted as ‘preying’ on younger men was exactly what they had in mind.

A woman dating a man ten or years younger than herself is no difference to a man dating a younger woman but once again, women are reduced to and defined by their sexuality.

But is it really women who are furthering the cougar movement as the media and popular culture would like to suggest or are aggressive young cubs pursuing older women eager for some Mrs Robinson action?

I would like to  put an argument forward that it is the latter rather than the former.

All of a sudden it seems that women who are in their 30s and single are being labelled cougars irrespective of whether they are dating younger men or not. Let me be clear, that there is nothing wrong with dating a man or woman who is a few years younger than you. However, if you are deliberately chasing men who are ten or more years younger, then in my opinion, you’re in cougar territory.

Men who throw themselves shamelessly at women sexually is not a new phenomenon and although it disgusts me personally, it’s seen to be an acceptable rite of passage. However, there has been an increasing amount of men in their 20s who are aggressively pursuing older women. Fuelled by media reports that single women in their 30s and above are gagging for it, they have become more blatant and obvious.

But let me let you in on a little secret … by the time an attractive women reach her 30s, she probably has a list of exes, friends with benefits or men offering their services. Unlike men, most women don’t usually have to work hard to be sexually active if that is their choice and they do have a choice. So you may think that you’re doing a woman in their 30s a community service, the reality is that it’s the other way around.

And just for the record, I find nothing sexy about men in their 20s. I don’t find them physically attractive nor do I find them mentally stimulating. I am constantly being approached and even followed by men in their early 20s. I thought it would stop now I’ve reached my 30s but they have just become more aggressive. It’s not flattering; in fact it’s just annoying and damn creepy.

And it’s insulting. If a woman dates a younger man, it may be purely through lack of choice. Statistics show that there are more women than men in their 20s but when a woman reaches her 30s, the dating tables are turned. Younger men are decidedly less jaded and bitter and come sans marriage, children and baggage but a lot of the time let’s face it, its expiration dating.

It may seem empowering at first for a woman or a man to bed someone who is a lot younger but like bed hair, it can go out of fashion really quickly. It seems to me that men and women who deliberately target younger people have insecurity issues, do it to recapture their youth and have a serious Peter Pan complex whether they are a man or a woman.

The only positive thing to come out of the cougar movement is the recognition and acknowledgement that an older woman (older not old) has her act together, is well established, worldly, often sexually experienced and knows what she wants and more importantly what she doesn’t want.

Despite popular belief that a woman cannot have sex without love (that’s another article altogether), the cougar often holds the sexual cards in a May to December relationship. When the chips do finally fall,  with a well practised poker face, it’s the men or rather little boys who are firmly holding the Joker card and nursing a sexual hangover.

And as per usual, my bet is on the woman.

Update: Got to love me some validation. A study of online dating, by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), found men and women are still rather traditional when it comes to searching for their ideal partner and disputes the “cougar” phenomenon touted in popular culture as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald.

There was no significant group of older women seeking younger men for long-term relationships – the so-called cougar or toy boy effect – found during the analysis of 22,400 profiles from dating websites including women in Australia. Women generally seek an older and, therefore hopefully, wealthier man, according to the UWIC study.

Dr Michael Dunn, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, said single women were almost universally found to be looking for men around their own age or older.

“Yes I do believe the cougar phenomenon is a myth and, yes, (it is) a media construct,” Dr Dunn told AAP in an email on Wednesday.

“Who benefits from this perpetuated myth? … this is mostly speculative but a clear beneficiary would be the ‘cougar’ or ‘toy-boy’ dating agencies themselves.”

The research is published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour. And here is another article similar to mine about young 20 somethings being more brazen (love that word!) with their behaviour towards older women.

Comments are welcome. However, please  note that personal remarks and attacks or comments not related to the topic may be deleted or edited. Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to email notifications.


  1. Sarah, 12 July 2010, 12:06 pm

    OMG … I have experienced this. I am 34 and registered on an online dating site and clearly my selection criteria is men from 30 – 39 but I always have guys in their early 20s sending me kisses!!! I am SO not interested.

  2. Emma, 12 July 2010, 3:52 pm

    I don’t have much experience regarding this topic – but I still have an opinion, of course! I tend to think the cougar movement isn’t as big a deal as the media claims it is. What is a tendency for a portion of 30-something and older women to exercise their freedom and demonstrate an interest in younger men has been hijacked by the label-loving media and turned into a ‘trend’ that once again allows women to be pigeon-holed and judged.
    Granted, there may be some women desperate for attention from younger men, but I believe any subsquent ‘movement’ supposedly based on this is largely fabricated and fuelled by the media reports you mentioned. And I imagine if all the men in the same situation were lumped into a movement, it would be far bigger.
    As far as I’m concerned, if a woman wants something uncomplicated with a guy, and one in his 20s is best placed to deliver that, she should go for it. Without fear of being categorised as something unsavoury or predatory. And the idea that all single women in their 30s have the same preference is ridiculous.

  3. JessicaP, 12 July 2010, 7:55 pm

    @Sarah – I’ve had the same thing happen to me on an online dating site!!! I see these young kids looking at my profile & I feel like taking a shower lol. Good article again!

  4. Irene, 12 July 2010, 10:01 pm

    Eeek … I’m in my 40s and dating a young boy in their early 20s makes me kind of want to throw up in my mouth a little bit. I look young for my age and I get asked out by guys in their mid 20s. Not really a turn on for me personally but hey, if you want to go out with a younger guy, all power to you!

  5. Dominique, 19 July 2010, 9:41 pm

    Nothing wrong with dating younger men if that’s your thing but it’s kind of off in my opinion to chase after guys who are 10 – 15 years younger than you. Where’s the appeal in that?

  6. shellygirll, 20 July 2010, 12:06 am

    Oh I completely agree… a guy in his early twenties is way too inexperienced to be of interest to me. I’m a woman who had her first orgasm in her early 30’s and so to step back in time with an inexperienced guy is just not going to happen, no way, no how. (to be fair I guess you get an inexperienced guy at any age so I shouldn’t discriminate.) My partner is younger than me by 4 years and if we were ever to break up I probably wouldn’t have a problem with a guy that was 29 but no younger. At 36, not only is it a sexual choice (since that first orgasm that’s a big one!!) but it’s an intellectual choice as well… men mature slower then woman. And as you said, I’ve got my act together, I’m well established, worldly, I know what I want and more importantly what I doesn’t want. I’m not waiting around for him to catch up with me… I’ve done that way too many times

  7. Sexysinglegal, 21 July 2010, 7:35 pm

    It’s funny but I didn’t mind the younger guy action when I was in my early 30s but now I’ve reached my late 30s, they seem so young to me. I can’t imagine doing a young guy even in his late 20s. There like eager little puppies around older women but I’m not having it sorry.

  8. Evelyn, 2 October 2010, 9:54 am

    I find this article full of self importance especially the part where you cant seem to get away from 20 something guys giving you attention and “constantly being approached and even followed by men in their early 20s”. HONESTLY, who do you think YOU are….?

    There are not enough men in their 30’s who are single or straight in Sydney….I for one have been looking for many years and can only seem to find guys in their 20’s who at least spend quality time and invite me to their social functions as their date! AM I A COUGAR BECAUSE I GET ALONG WITH THESE GUYS????

  9. Gillian, 2 October 2010, 9:56 am

    @Evelyn: I have had to edit a lot of your comment out because I don’t allow personal attacks on my blog – attack the argument, not the person. I have left the first section in because I want to address it. I think you need to step back, take a deep breath and read my post again.

    Whereas it may have come across as boasting in your opinion, as I said in my post, there is nothing flattering about a man in his 20s who is pursuing you because he thinks you’re an easy lay, desperate and gagging for it. I find it quite insulting, demeaning and it cheapens women to be looked as purely sexual objects.

    I also said that there is nothing wrong with dating younger men – “Let me be clear, that there is nothing wrong with dating a man or woman who is a few years younger than you.” However, I do believe as the survey I posted attests that given a choice, women would prefer to date men their age or older.

    You have also said as much in your comment that you have been trying to find a younger man for years and can only find men in their 20s. When I was referring to the ‘cougars’, I was referring to the media definition of women who prefer to date men ten years or younger than them through choice not lack of choice as in your case.

    Again, I do not believe this is the case for most women. Cougar is quite an offensive term and a media construct where ‘women are reduced to and defined by their sexuality.’

    Thank you reading my blog. If you want to post comments related to my post, I would be happy to post them in full. Otherwise, you can email me using your real name and email address and I’ll be happy to respond to you. Somehow I’m guessing ‘’ is not your real address :-p

  10. JessicaP, 2 October 2010, 11:27 am

    Evelyn – HONESTLY, who do you think YOU are? If you choose to date men in your early 20s, that’s up to you. I am on an online dating site and I get contacted by men in their early to mid 20s (I am in my 30s) and believe me, most of them don’t want to settle down and get married. You’re fooling yourself if you think they are not using you for SEX – look, I can use CAPITALS as well … aren’t I clever!

  11. Dominique, 7 October 2010, 12:05 pm

    @Evelyn – Using an email address like ‘‘’ – are you serious? I can honestly see why you get along with these guys. And there is nothing wrong with dating younger men but you even said it yourself that you only date men in their 20s because ‘There are not enough men in their 30’s who are single or straight in Sydney’ so you were agreeing with the article? I don’t see anything wrong with dating a younger man as long as he is mature and in the same place as me but given a choice, I’d rather date someone the same age or older.

  12. louise, 29 October 2010, 7:46 pm

    I would like to remind you ladies that love has no age limit = now believe me I used to be the first to make a comment when I saw the pathetic cougars my age (46) out on the prowl – until I met my man who is 22 years younger than me and my perfect match in all ways – we have been together for many years and are happily married – our family and friends have no issues ( he still gets to od comment from some young bitchy barbie ) – I have a teenage child who loves him to death we both have careers and a nice house – just think before you judge ladies and I wish you all the love that I have found xxxxxxxxxxxx

  13. Anna, 20 November 2010, 12:10 pm

    Um, why do you need to be so dogmatic about other people’s sexuality? I’m in my late thirties. I love the energy and sexual arrogance of men in their early twenties. It’s fun. I don’t need you or anyone else to prescribe my relationships for me, thanks. Are you sure you’re not a threatened middle aged man masquerading as a woman? 🙂

  14. Gillian, 21 November 2010, 9:34 am

    @Louise – I don’t think anyone is standing in judgement. I do believe you can meet someone several years younger than you and have a healthy and happy relationship. Glad to hear it’s working out for you!

    @Anna – Somehow, I don’t think middle aged men are threatened by older women dating younger men. I think they are too busy eyeing up younger women to even notice or care 🙂 This article wasn’t about cougars per se. You’re welcome to your life choices as am I but I do not people to assume that every 30+ female is seeking the attention of men in their 20s because that is simply not the case and in my experience, it’s the 20 somethings that are largely pursuing older women not the other way around. If you want to sleep with a younger man, all power to you!

  15. Heather Dudley, 23 July 2011, 4:29 pm

    I am 31 years old. And I have A long term boyfriend that is 23 years old and we have been together for two years! I love him with all my heart and he loves me too. We have a ton in common!

  16. Rosetta, 3 September 2012, 11:22 am

    From the perspective of a woman over 40 (me!), much older men (who are the ones who would consider someone my age) are pretty decrepit and often look more like my father than someone I could envision as a romantic partner. If an older woman has taken care of herself and looks much younger than her age, it would take a man at least 5 or 6 years younger to be a match for her in terms of good health, energy level, and attractiveness. In my blog, I focus on the over-40 woman concentrating on herself and her own interests rather than desperately running after men. I believe that a good one will find me if I keep engaged with life : ) . For my non-dating adventures, take a look at my blog — and thanks for yours!

  17. MG, 28 August 2013, 5:54 am

    I read this article because I am a 25 year old male who has recently developed a serious crush on a 32 year old female. It was instant chemistry and it was clear she had many potential options but chose to spend her time out on the town with her friends focused on me. Everything has been great so farand she even told me in private that she has not had sex in almost 2 years and that she “wanted to fulfill all my fantasies.” Unfortunately I have developed serious feelings for her even though we havent even had sex yet. And I read this article in hopes of finding out if there is even a possibility of this happening. I must admit reading your article was depressing. Hearing that younger men approach you with such vulgarity rather than trying to create a true connection is sad. Furthermore the fact that some older women view men in their 20’s in this way is worse. Even though I am 25 I have began my Career and live on my own, and compared to single men in their 40’s… C’mon
    And by the way to all the women who say older men are more experienced in the bedroom… Thats only because older men aren’t ashamed to take Viagra…

  18. Jessica, 31 January 2014, 1:50 pm

    Hmm what’s the appeal of guys in their 20s over guys in their mid-30s?
    Let’s see…30s: Balding/bald/receding hairline, thin lips,bit of a gut, jaded,
    cynical, controlling, need Viagra to perform. 20s: Energetic, fun, open-minded,
    sparkly eyes, kissable pouts, hair you can run your fingers through,
    svelte limbs, flat stomachs…Hmmm no can’t see the appeal at
    all…weird…Speaking as a woman in her mid-30s who has never dated
    over 22. But maybe most women my age are only
    interested in money, stability and status. I prefer fascinating in
    conversation and wild between the sheets…silly me!

  19. Bert, 11 February 2014, 1:08 pm

    Its not a new phenomenon, my grandfather was 15 years younger than my grandmother and they were married in the 1940’s. I’m sure most men looking for “cougars” are out for sex and fun but as a man in my early twenties pining after a woman in her late twenties I can say that sex isn’t my concern. I’ve always had a strong desire to become a father and provider and women my age simply aren’t ready for that. Besides that women have this false notion that they mature faster than men, but most men and women under 30 are a complete mess, women my age and younger are just not attractive to me in there mindsets, they aren’t ready for mortgages and kids all they want is to go party on the weekend. I feel no need to describe myself as a mature man, I am just a man and my age has no bearing on that, unfortunately there are too many boys in their thirties drowning me out.


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