By Kirsty Carpenter and Sally Griffith
Does age really matter? Well, it depends on what you want in a relationship.
A new breed of cougars has emerged—they’re called pumas. These 30-something women are eager to get in on the boy-toy action, and guys are happy to oblige. Fact is, no matter what age bracket you’re talking about, being with an “older” woman appeals to a lot of men. She has the benefit of life experience, education, and sophistication—three traits guys admire, according to Dr. Helen Fisher, of the Center for Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers University.
“Nowadays, women are more financially successful than ever, and this shift has changed what many men desire in a partner,” she says. “Guys are often attracted primarily to a woman’s independence, direction in life, and job success.” There also may be less pressure for them to prove themselves financially, because pumas tend to be more understanding if younger guys lack ambition or success.
Women in these relationships are also reaping the benefits. Since the guys may not have nailed down a high-powered career, they are often more carefree, relaxed, and up for anything, which can be a refreshing break for women who have been dating their stressed-out male peers, according to research by Dr. Sandra L. Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine. Then there’s the ego boost: Considering that these guys have the option of scoring younger women, a puma can feel pretty damn good when she snags a cub.
What’s more, says Dr. Bethany Marshall, author of Deal Breakers, younger guys have a tendency to put older girlfriends up on a pedestal and are more easily impressed by their achievements than older men might be. And who wouldn’t love that?
The Sizzle Factor
As cougars well know, and pumas are figuring out, dating a younger guy can be like hitting the sexual jackpot—and not just because women peak later than men do. “A woman in her thirties is very sexually compatible with a man in his early to mid twenties,” says Dr. Linda Banner, a licensed marital and family therapist in San Jose, California. “As women leave their angst-ridden twenties behind, they become more comfortable in their skin, and instead of worrying about how they look during sex, they focus more on how they feel.”
And this self-assurance is very attractive to young men. According to Caron, today’s guys are more “emotionally aroused,” focusing less on how a woman looks and more on her independence. “Appearance will always play a major role in physical attraction, but being with a woman who has confidence is more appealing for some young men than her having supertight abs,” she says. And if you’ve got both, all the better!
What You Said
28 percent of you say you’re fine with supporting a partner if you’re getting love back in return, while 28 percent say it’s okay if it’s for something worthwhile, like education. “If you’re past your childbearing years and the relationship is getting serious, ensure you’re on the same page with regards to children and family, as this may later be a deal-breaker,” Joburg-based clinical psychologist Liane Lurie adds.
What About The Blessers?
When it comes to taking, five percent of you are happy to take anything you can get, while 61 percent say you’ll only accept treats if he gives you respect first. “Formalising a relationship where both parties know exactly what they’re getting out of it is much better than having some expectations that aren’t being met on either side,” says Elna Rudolph. But, she warns, “If you feel like you’re not worth being in a relationship where your needs are as important as his, don’t believe that lie! You’re worthy of an equal relationship.” Lurie agrees: “It can work, provided you both have similar outlooks and the stigma attached to these kinds of relationships doesn’t affect either of you.”