My Life as a Cougar

No, this isn’t some poignant tale from my Swedish childhood.¹  This is me struggling with the weird reality of going out with a guy young enough to be my son.  You know, dealing with the discovery that I am a “cougar.”²

Ok, so I’ve said it.  I’ve said both “it”s — I’ve gone on dates with someone who isn’t AC, and that not-AC someone is ridiculously young.  Take a moment to denounce me if you like.

Done?  I’m not sure I am, but let’s continue.

We’ll call the little whippersnapper I’ve been talking to Tarik.  On our third date I made the mistake of asking his age.  I knew he was young.  Even in the dark dance club where we met, it was clear I was the senior partner in our couple.  It’s just that I had convinced myself ours was a single-digit age gap.  Yeah, not so much.

I am finding this May-December thing decidedly icky.  And I’m surprised by how much it bothers me.  I don’t know if Tarik ever had any kind of boyfriend potential, but I do know that learning his age chilled my interest.  How annoying that I care.  Why do I care?  After all, AC is younger than I am, too.  Ok, only by two years.  We’re practically separated at birth compared to me and Tarik.  But really, what’s the big deal?  A man “of a certain age” dating a woman in her 20s would be envied and admired — ok, maybe not by everyone, but by many.  But when it’s an older woman and a younger man, suddenly there’s something animal and creepy going on:³

Shall I photoshop my face in there?

Again, what’s the big deal?  According to this handy chart I found on the internets, Tarik’s in my half-plus-seven dating range:

Mercifully, I will be saving myself from having to agonize over this too much longer.  It seems that my little trip to Cougar Town is going to be a short one.  Tarik is mostly irking the mess out of me these days, and is about to get that final goodbye.  I just wish I could figure out whether or not he’d irk me half as much if he weren’t half my age.


¹ Tell me you never saw that movie.  What’s Netflix for, friends?

² Oh, so many issues with this use of “cougar.”  I suppose it’s better than “cradle robber,” but what is it really supposed to be saying?  And, while we’re figuring stuff out, how is it that I’m finding myself in this category?

³ Check out The Gender Blender Blog for a good articulation of some of my problems with this whole cougar business.

14 thoughts on “My Life as a Cougar

  1. I don’t know why, but this totally cracked me up. Maybe it was all the visual aids. What a dating world it is, right? I was “courted” (and, yes, “courted” is the best word to describe it) when I was 23 by a 49 year old male professor from Cornell. i still shake my head cartoon-like when I think about it. Had it not been for the age gap (and, now I realize, his man parts) what a great match we made! But ickiness is impossible to overcome. Good luck to you! 😉


    1. Since I find you utterly wonderful, Erika, the only surprise here is that you aren’t courted by everyone you meet! And please know: it totally cracks me up, too. It’s just too weird.


  2. Stacie I hear you!

    It’s not dating younger that’s the issue, it’s how much younger.

    It’s frustrating as hell that the men I’ve been attracted to lately are ten years or more my junior. Like you, this major “eww” factor intercedes when I garner that he is within five years of my oldest son age. Let alone the wonderful young man who, slipped me his business card with his private cell number only to discover, was three years younger than my “youngest” son.

    Seriously, can you even imagine THAT introduction? *cringes*

    Although, I do think I want tickets to that musical; lol.


  3. molly

    I agree that this is a brave post. I think my self-image, at least my physical self-image, got stuck at an earlier age, in spite of what the mirror or my aches and pains might tell me. I look at 25 and 30 year old men (maybe even up to 40, 45, if they’re lucky) and think “hey, he’s cute”, and then realize he’s half my age. And he’s not looking at me. The men who are looking at me are much closer to my age, and I am realizing that they are acting age-appropriately, but it feels as if they are too old for me.
    I love the winking cougar. It could be interesting and fun to hang out with a much younger person. I think the most interesting question is whether it is his age that irks you or the person himself.
    I hope, above all, that you are having a good time.


    1. I totally get the idea of your self-image being stuck at an earlier age. I feel the same way. It’s always a surprise when I have to realize how very much I am no longer 28 years old! But maybe Tarik is proof that sometimes that younger man actually is looking at you …

      I enjoy hanging out with people of all ages, including ones so much younger than I am. Your question is a good one. I think my problem with Tarik is about Tarik much more than it’s about my queasiness about dating a man young enough to be my son. He’s a nice guy, but that just isn’t enough to get past the flaws.


  4. inmate1972

    This whole business over creating a “name” for women who date younger men just pisses me off in general. An older man dates a younger woman and that’s just business as usual; an older woman dates a younger man and that just has to be a social phenomenon that merits a moniker.

    I think the term “cougar” is degrading. You are beautiful woman who is capable of exploring the full range of social experiences and are so far above such a bullshit title.

    Enjoy it while you can and don’t worry about the age. A man is a man and a boy is boy, not matter the age. If he annoys you, kick him to the curb.

    Have fun!


    1. Oh, I know. The whole “cougar” thing is beyond disgusting. At the same time, it sort of amuses me to think of myself as one because I don’t fit anyone’s idea of what a cougar is “supposed” to be … but then, most of what’s true about me doesn’t fit with other people’s ideas about who I’m supposed to be, so why should this be different?


  5. My mom always dated younger men when I was growing up. I thought it was really normal, until I met other people’s almost-step-dads and realised that my mom was sorta weird.

    My mom’s boyfriend when she was my current age (33) was 19. I was 10. Grody!


    1. Yeah, I can’t really imagine dating a 19-year-old … certainly not now! (That would surely be criminal!) But even at 33 I don’t think I could have done it. Tarik and his too-much-of-child self is well out of the picture at this point … but the old fogey’s who’re knocking on my door now don’t appeal to me in the slightest. What’s a woman of a certain age to do?


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