For the record, I am not a fan of the “cougar” phenomenon.
I know, older women dating younger men is all the rage. I don’t know how often it actually happens, but I do know that ever since Demi and Ashton tied the knot, we’ve been seeing more and more attention paid to these December/May relationships. And, from what I’ve seen, most of them have tended to go the way of Ashton and Demi in the end. They crash and burn.
My problem is not that I think it would be impossible for an older woman to fall in love with a younger man, or vice versa. It happens. I’ve seen it happen. And when it’s a real relationship, centered in God and based in mutual self-donation, it can of course be a beautiful thing. My problem is that the attitude I see surrounding the “cougar” phenomenon has nothing to do with real love or self donation. It has to do with what “I” want, making “me” feel a certain way. “Getting an older woman makes a younger man feel . . .” Or “Older women like younger men because . . .” Even the name denotes a predatory view of relationships.
So when I saw an article by a self-proclaimed “cougar” claiming to debunk the myths surrounding these types of relationships, I thought I should read it and keep an open mind. Maybe I’ve had it all wrong. After all, if she actually has the nerve to announce to the world that she considers herself a cougar, she must see something redeeming in it.
So here are some of the myths, and her responses:
Myth: “A cougar is the hunter who preys on innocent young men.”
Cougar’s response: It’s not always this way. In fact, “[o]ften it’s the younger man who approaches the older woman in hopes of a purely sexual no-strings-attached relationship.”
My response: This phenomenon, and all of the attention being paid to it, is not primarily fueled by loving self-donation between two individuals of vastly different ages. It’s about deliberately seeking out a demographic—not an individual—because of what they can do for me.
Myth: It won’t work because eventually “he’ll cheat on her with someone his own age.”
Cougar’s response: Apparently this isn’t necessarily the case. Well, not exactly. Older women like their freedom, and younger men like that because they’re comfortable in “less traditional” relationships.
My response: Which, if I’m reading her right, means that they might cheat, but the cougar doesn’t care.
Myth: “A younger man finds women his age to be sexier. They have less wrinkles and weight from pregnancies.”
Cougar’s response: Nope—not for these guys. They’re trading all of that in for the sexual experience and adventurousness of the older woman. “Sex is usually an area where this couple excels.”
My response: It’s about using, not loving.
Myth: “The younger man will ultimately want children, and will dump the older woman who already has a brood.”
Cougar’s response: Not at all. Rather “many younger men gravitate to older women who won’t pressure them to get married and have children.”
My response: This is a complete failure to make any real commitment or accept the responsibilities that come with marriage.
Needless to say, this article didn’t change my mind.
Once again, I have to say that of course it’s possible for two people of different ages to fall in love. I believe it’s the exception more than the rule—and that, in general, we tend to find ourselves most compatible with people who are relative to our own age. I know I am.
Sure, some individuals may be more or less mature than others, or God may have his own reasons for calling together a man and a woman of different ages. But when someone tells me that, as a rule, they prefer to date people either vastly older or vastly younger than they are, alarms start going off for me.
And when they announce to the world that they’re “cougars,” and that they have no interest in men their own age, but instead choose exclusively to pursue (or, apparently, be pursued by) men young enough to be their sons—well, frankly that just creeps me out.