COUGARS…am I one? Are you one? What are they anyway? Read more to find out…

I have been informed that I am a “cougar”. It’s not that I’m offended . It’s just that if I’m going to be called something, I’d at least like to know what it is and to be sure it applies to me. Hell, I don’t mind being called a bitch if I’m being a bitch. If you insist on labeling me, all I ask is that you get it right. So in the interest of getting it right, I have investigated the term “cougar” to see if it applies.

Generally speaking, a cougar is a woman who involves herself with significantly younger men. Now the older woman/younger man scenario isn’t a new thing, but it definitely has changed. Back in the day the scenario usually was an older, established woman who is paying for the company or attentions of her handsome, virile, younger companion with money and gifts and such, attentions she probably could not get any other way. But that is old school, and isn’t what being a cougar is about today. The cougars of the new millennium are confident that their ability to attract “cubs” (that’s the name for their younger male companions) is not just about what they may have to offer monetarily. Now a cub’s interest in a cougar is just as likely to be based on the cougar’s looks, sex appeal, and personality. After all, older women are taking much better care of themselves these days. Whether they are keeping their wardrobes more updated, getting tips from makeup counters in department stores, indulging in spa weekends for facials, massages and mani/pedis, working out to stay in shape or having plastic surgery, older women do seem to be less inclined to let themselves go now. And more older women seem to be maintaining a certain youthfulness in spirit that many younger men find attractive. So while that old school setup is still around, the older woman of today doesn’t have to settle for that arrangement if she doesn’t want to. She has options now, and the cougar option is one of them.

According to what I’ve seen, heard and read, a cougar is a woman 40 years of age or older (in some places I’ve read over 35 but more often than not 40 is the magic number). Her cub is at least 7 years younger than her, usually more. These involvements range from the purely physical/sexual or casual types of situations to the closer, more romantic and more serious kinds of relationships. A cougar is typically defined by the fact that she actively goes after younger men. They compete with the younger women toe to toe for the younger man’s attention, from hanging out in the bars and clubs where they might find these younger men to dressing provocatively. These cougars have no interest in men closer to their own age; they are all about youth and all the things that usually come with it, like good looks, full heads of hair, hard bodies, and non-Viagra enhanced erections.

But some cougars do not actively seek out younger men and  don’t feel the cougar title fits them. These women don’t necessarily prefer younger men, no do they make any special effort to attract them. These women say that men their age aren’t interested in them, but the younger men are, so that is who they end up with. They don’t like the idea that they are being characterized as women looking for “boy toys” to have fun with. These women are considered cougars primarily because of the age difference between them and their men, and are merely victims of their circumstances. Why should they turn down the attentions of a man they like just because he happens to be younger?

I am in the cougar age range. I will not give specific numbers so don’t ask me to. These days the men who approach me are at least 7 years younger than me. Some days no one over 30 approaches me.  I freely admit I am not always comfortable with this; it makes me wonder if I am doing something to attract these younger men and deter those closer to my age. I am not one to lie about my age when I choose to give it, and there always seems to be a bit of surprise on the part of the younger man when I tell him my age. (No, I’m not just saying that!) Usually the young man is aware that I am a bit older than him, but is often taken aback at how much older I am. At that point I ask about their interest in older women, which is how I learned about different kinds of cubs.

Some cubs have an established history of being attracted to older women. They talk about how women their age are too insecure, too controlling, and too rigid. They say younger women are “into playing games”, “don’t know what they want”, or “are still trying to figure out who they are”. These cubs feel older women are much better in bed than younger women. They don’t come right out and say it in so many words – but I find the phrase “more experienced” (*wink wink*) mentioned a lot. These cubs felt older women were more open about sex and were more skilled than their younger counterparts; they seemed to genuinely find older women as attractive, physically and otherwise, as younger ones. And in some cases they mention that older women treat them better than younger ones do. The cubs talk about how cougars will cook, assist them with small personal errands, help them decorate their homes, make suggestions about their wardrobe, etc. They definitely enjoy the caretaking aspect of certain cougars.

Some cubs were more into this kind of power trip thing. These believe that cougars were in need of some young strong buck to give them some serious sexing. To them, the older woman is quest for her missing orgasms, and they are going to lead the search party. These cubs were a bit disturbing to me, because sometimes they seemed to feel like they were doing the cougars a favor by being with them and fucking them. I met several that had this viewpoint – one in particular told me that “he knew I needed some young, FRESH meat to make me right”.  Yeah, he emphasized the word FRESH just like that, and you can imagine how far he got with me. These cubs felt they had a certain power over cougars at times, that they somehow had the upper hand when dealing with them because they were younger and could more easily get companionship than the cougar could. These types of cubs were more likely to talk about how older women had money or good credit, even if the woman wasn’t using either of those to his benefit. But even in this situation, these cubs did find the older women physically attractive, and in many respects, better in bed. To me, it wasn’t so much that they didn’t value the cougars, it was more that they tended to overestimate their own importance in the situation.

In my experience, younger women often resent cougars. Sometimes they get angry at them. In some instances they feel sorry for them. They can’t imagine that a woman so much older than them could possibly be appealing to a man, especially a young one. And though they may not view cougars as a real threat (I say it that way because at the end of the day women tend to view all women as threats to some degree), they aren’t happy about the cougars hunting in their jungle.  These young women think youth automatically equals better looks and better sex. Why would a man want a woman old enough to be his – well – much older sister at the very least? They tend to view cougars as discontented and desperate borderline senior citizens who should stay in their place, go home and tend to their grand kids or knit something — and they think this no matter how young the cougar may look. These younger women just can’t imagine “why any man would want Grandma’s p***y” (as one woman mumbled under her breath in my direction one night when I was at a bar conversing with a 25 year old man). They laugh, safe and secure in the knowledge that the young buck doesn’t really want the cougar, isn’t genuinely attracted to her. Those who overestimate the looks and sex appeal of youth can often be rudely awakened when an older woman successfully gains the attentions of their man.

Now while most cougars these days are of the new millennium variety, I have seen the old school scenario I mentioned previously play out where the older woman compensates her younger man for his time and company with money or gifts or whatever, and it’s not pretty. Unfortunately, a more common version of this I’m seeing now is the older woman involved with a younger man who is a completely and totally useless. He is an embarrassment, someone that the older woman clearly brought into her life out of some sadly twisted need for companionship. There are two couples in my block made up of a much older woman and a much younger man, and in both cases the younger men in question are men that no right-thinking woman would interact with in any way. They are chronically unemployed, addicted to at least one, and sometimes several, drugs, loud, uncouth, slovenly, unattractive, and they stink. They can’t a decent conversation, dress horribly even when their women buy them new clothes, and would be hard pressed to buy you dinner from the dollar menu at McDonalds. In both cases the women work two jobs to maintain their homes, take care of their children, etc. Clearly don’t mind letting their younger boyfriends totally live off them. In one case the man is abusive, and hits his lady quite often. These toxic cougar/cub hook-ups make me sad and angry, and remind me that no matter how old you are, you cannot be desperate and needy to the point that you make bad decisions in selecting your male companions.

So with all that being said, I have to conclude that yes, I am a bit of a cougar. I do involve myself with younger men, though it is not a preference.

To me, the emergence of the “cougar nation” is about these women shamelessly  claiming and displaying their confidence in every aspect of herself, especially the ones society has traditionally told her she had to hide as she got older. Confidence is something you hear mentioned time and time again when you talk about cougars. Confidence is sexy. It is sensual. It is hot, and it is the greatest weapon a woman will ever have in her arsenal. Confidence  can blind a man to all  of a woman’s supposed physical imperfections – it better than a facelift, a boob job, or a low-carb diet. It can even make cellulite almost invisible. And confidence is definitely the major advantage cougars have over younger women. I know from my own experience that becoming older gives you a level of confidence that most younger woman aren’t blessed with. Yes I realize how I sound when I say that, but it’s true. I remember how I felt about myself when I was younger, and I know how I feel about myself know, so I have been able to observe the difference.

Surviving life builds confidence. I have mended my broken heart a few times over without retaining bitterness and hurt. I have raised my children successfully. I have ruined and rebuilt my credit score more than twice. Most importantly, I have made many of my dreams come true through talent and hard work – and accomplishing those things has given me very serious, quietly powerful swagger. My swagger is not a game, ask about me if you don’t know. As I have marched through my late thirties and beyond, my confidence has soared. That’s not to say I don’t have my bad days and fits of insecurity, because I do. That’s not to say that I don’t see the areas I need to improve in, and I work on those things. But overall, my intimate relationship with me is one I am comfortable with. I love being in my skin, and sometimes pity those not lucky enough to be me. And I truly have lost all my ability to care about the random opinions of others, and it is the sweetest, juiciest freedom you will ever taste. It quenches your soul like cool spring water. It is incredibly liberating, and something you don’t get until you get older. My stretch marks are of no consequence to me. I love my crazy mish-mash of hair that isn’t sure if it wants to be curly, kinky, nappy, or all three, and you couldn’t pay me to change it. I love the ridges and curves on my thighs. And yes, I do have sex AND make love AND f**k with much more abandon, precision, conviction, expression, devotion, dedication and joy than I ever did when I was in my 20’s. And if you catch me on a good day and I like you, I’ll do all three at the same time. I am living my life coolly being that bad bitch. And best of all, I am so confident I don’t need everyone to know it. Because those important to me do, and they love it.

So how do I feel about my cougar-ness? It’s pretty cool. It is good to know so many women are not letting their age dictate who they are, how they should behave, or who they should give their hearts or bodies to. I like that fact that now, at a time in my life when I didn’t think my vitality, my zest, my spiritedness, my intelligence, my sensuality would really matter to this youth-obsessed world, it still does. And it makes me smile to think about that younger man who wants me in all my flawed goodness and error-filled perfection – who can still look at my naked body and be pleased by what he sees, who talks to me and spends time with me because he wants to. I sincerely hope that every woman, no matter what her age or marital status, will have the opportunity to experience what I have been able to enjoy as a cougar.

Until next time…peace!