The Myth of the Cougar?

It’s every man’s dream, it seems. ¬†No matter how old a man gets, he dreams of trading up. At least, this is the fantasy that many men have. ¬†It doesn’t matter if he’s in a committed relationship, if he’s married, or if he’s single. ¬†Every man dreams of scoring himself some nubile twenty-something no matter what his age… and as a man’s age advances, the women he finds most attractive remained fixed in that prime of feminine attractiveness, the young, taut, early twenty-something years. ¬†Maybe our hero thinks about women who are just a little bit farther along, age-wise, but really, a man is always targeting what he thinks of as women in their prime. ¬†That target can change a little either way, given a few years or taking a few years, but a man’s age is immaterial to what he thinks is sexy. And it is one of the curiosities of our biology that a man remains viable, capable of sleeping with younger women, for as long as he is capable of attracting one to have him.

This has all been confirmed by a new study that has determined that American men, at least, choose much younger women when they get remarried.  The study says that 20% of men who are remarrying will chose a woman who is 10 years younger.  Another roughly 20% of men who are remarrying will choose someone who is between 6 and 9 years younger. To achieve this data, the Pew Research Center compiled public records and determined that of all new marriages, just less than half of them (40%) have at least one member for whom the marriage is not a first marriage. This  number is up 300% from 50 years ago.

A deeper look at the data shows that when women and men get married for the first time, they most often marry people who are right about their own age. Polling eligible men who were married and are now divorced and widowed, two thirds of them said they were very interested in marrying again. ¬†This compares unfavorably to previously married women, half of whom aren’t looking to get married once more.


In what might seem like a contradiction, the women who do get remarried typically marry men who are older than they are. ¬†Additionally, the study shows that people getting remarried, as a phenomenon, is increasing. ¬†So there’s plenty of marriages happening, plenty of divorces happening to those, and plenty of men and women going on to get remarried. ¬†The men are marrying younger and the women are marrying older… and if you think about it, this means that two populations are likely mingling. ¬†If you’re a woman who is likely to marry an older man, and if he’s a man who is looking to marry a younger woman, there’s a chance the two of you will connect… as long as she’s interested in getting married again at all which, according to the survey, she just might not be.

There’s plenty of reasons a woman might show no interest in getting married again. Note that just because a woman doesn’t want to get married, it doesn’t mean she isn’t interested in sex. ¬†The same goes for the men, although from the data it looks like a lot of men, once single after a first marriage, don’t look at their new-found freedom as a chance to have sex with anything that moves. ¬†Instead, it seems like they look at that freedom as a liability, something that, on average, they want to “fix” quickly so they can find someone new to spend the rest of their lives with. ¬†The fact that the “someone new” just might be someone younger and hotter than their previous wife, regardless of their own age, is just human nature. There isn’t a guy in the world who, no matter how much he loved his wife, doesn’t consider trading up if the opportunity presents itself. This is one of the reasons men who have families and who very genuinely love their wives nonetheless consider having affairs. ¬†They want the thrill and the sexual gratification of being with a younger, hotter woman, but they really do have emotional attachments to their wives.

Something this study blows holes in, though, is the idea of the cougar. You know the term. ¬†A cougar is an attractive woman who is past her prime, in most cases, but who nonetheless is sexy enough to get the attention of much younger men. Television and movies have us thinking that there are many of these cougars running around just looking to turn fit young men into boy toys. While there may be some of those, and some of them may in fact be women who have decided not to remarry after a first marriage, it’s looking like, more than likely, if a woman gets involved in a long-term relationship after a first marriage, she’s going to end up choosing an older man.

If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. ¬†A woman who has “been around the block” has little time for a young man who may not have much in the way of assets. ¬†She is used to a certain standard of living that a young man might not be able to provide. She also probably has little patience for a man who might still be working through some maturity issues. ¬†Dating an older man is one way to find a man who knows what he wants, who has done all the growing up he’s likely to do, and who may in fact be in a secure financial position. ¬†Don’t fool yourself: Women are materialistic by nature and will always choose a man who offers financial security, even if they have flings with men for purely physical reasons despite the fact that those boy-toys have little in the way of worldly assets.

Consider all this the next time you contemplate dating much younger or much older.  There are a lot of factors to consider. Make sure you mull these over if you find yourself in this position.



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