It began as a mischievous flirtation on a trip to Las Vegas. Kathleen, a divorced Highland Park mother of three, was flying to Sin City for a convention five years ago, but it was as much a trip to decompress as it was to work. She knew it was over when they were in Las Ventanas, in Mexico, marking their 11th anniversary.
They were on the beach, gazing at the wondrous blue water. Her husband leaned over to show her two women featured in magazine advertisements: one a model for Hawaiian Tropic, one for AARP. She chose freedom and a large settlement, enough to maintain her lifestyle: a summer home in Aspen, winter trips to Europe with her children, a Mercedes, a house near Highland Park Village. But it was on the plane flight where she made her most scandalous choice—a decision, in football parlance, to get younger at the position. It began with small talk. The young man next to her asked what she was going to do in Vegas.
He asked if she was single.
He asked if she would ever consider going out with someone his age. What the hell, she thought. They went out in Las Vegas. But we did date more when I got back to town. The next man she went out with was more age-appropriate, someone older, in fact. More and more, women are thinking like Kathleen. That would suggest that, everywhere you look, professional women in heels are sharing bottles of wine with boys wearing big belt buckles and Chuck Taylors. But it is a microtrend, as defined by renowned pollster and marketing expert Mark Penn in his book Microtrends. Penn says it takes just 1 percent of a given population in this case, older dating women to become an influential movement.
And if you think of it like a contagion—say, the cougar flu—then Dallas is the hot zone of the outbreak. With some 46, more single men than single women, North Texas provides plenty of eager young men to compete for the affections of wealthy, single, Pilates-sculpted older women.
Sex and the single women
Go for it! Simple, right? Rachel and her assistant, Tag Friends. Liz Lemon and the coffee boy, Jamie 30 Rock. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher real life.
"a cougar stole my man"
The Dallas Morning News suggested that any woman 33 and over who dated a man at least seven years younger was a cougar. Others say there are specific age brackets that cougars must fall into.
This cougar confusion suggests why, to a woman, every female interviewed for this article despised the term. They see it as a way to suggest they are as dumb as the men who date young gold diggers. He knows if he calls me a cougar, it is over. The word was a derogatory Canadian saying that she says she decided to reclaim to help empower women like her who preferred dating younger guys.
After four years, the women outed the men on the cruise, three to one. She wants fun, sex, and a good time. For one thing, now young men are driving the trend. Julie, a year-old manager in a commercial real estate office, sips her happy hour martini at The Porch, on Henderson Avenue. She puts it down and checks her phone. She closes her phone and rolls her eyes.
She looks across the table to her protege, Kelly, a year-old marketing director. Kelly is dating among others a year-old man. Julie and Kelly return to the task at hand. Himself as close to a cougar as a man can be. They want to emphasize that theirs is not a tawdry pursuit but a sensible dating decision arrived at by examining the options available and choosing, in the end, the option with the tightest buns.
But when e-mailing each other in preparation for this interview, Julie and Kelly began making a list of the reasons a younger man is more enjoyable to date. Now, wondering how much they should share, they giggle incessantly. And now they realize that this exercise makes them sound like horny old men. Less baggage all men have some baggage, they say. More fun.
More respectful. More romantic. Eager to please. A keen interest in prolonging the physical act of love reworded by reporter. More fit. Better skin seriously, they said this. Will seek life advice.
Julie considers the list. Kelly nods her head slowly in approval. She was married for seven years. When they tied the knot, he was 35, she was As she started going out again, she realized why her ex went for someone so young. She met her current boyfriend at Carsons Live in Addison, a dance club populated with twentysomethings unafraid to put their pinkie and forefinger in the air while rocking out. One month after their first date, Kelly and her boyfriend had their second date at the Loon.
The long time between meetings is further proof, she says, that part of the appeal of such relationships is the control the woman has. The man or, fine, boy is there when needed, but not a drain on her busy professional lifestyle.
The disapproving looks from the women reading this story with pinched faces? Julie begrudgingly acknowledges second thoughts about one, and only one, young lover. That would be the otherwise memorable time spent with the year-old friend of her daughter.
How to be a cougar
They are cute, full of energy, and they have fun ideas for dates that are outside of the old standbys of dinner and movies. In the beginning, she says, her friends were less than understanding. Over time, they realized there was just more of a bond between her and younger men. Also, she says, her online dating experiences were so bad that her friends all but encourage her now to keep trending young. She tried church, too, to no avail. Sabrina, though, is quick to point out the few drawbacks—limited life experience and money among them. Not everyone who has tried dating younger men likes the experience, of course.
Jill, 39, works for a wine company and was divorced four years ago.
She understands the appeal of young guys. But now she turns them down more often than not. Including the college hunk in Louisiana who asked her out when she was sitting at the bar recently—although she did e-mail her girlfriends to tell them about the ego boost. To illustrate the maturity problem, she shows random text messages she received from a guy 12 years younger whom she met at a pool party and went out with a few times.
10 great places to meet older women wanting sex that work in
Finally, over three days, these were the text messages she received and to which she never responded:. Jill never talked to him after that. Before him, there was the guy she caught doing a line of cocaine on their third date. How can we laugh at the same things? The guys who date cougars, though, have nothing bad to say about the experience.