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British researcher: "Cougars" don''t exist


"For a decade now we've been chronicling the emergence of cougars in the dating jungle: women, usually over 40, who hunt younger men, or cubs, and shower them with a tantalizingly experienced kind of love %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94 and lots of ABBA music. There are cougar celebrities %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94 47-year-old Demi Moore married to 32-year-old Ashton Kutcher %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94 cougar books, cougar cruises and, perhaps the ultimate affirmation, cougar sitcoms, including the popular Cougar Town, starring real-life cougar Courteney Cox. What further proof do we need of this species' existence?

Michael Dunn isn't buying it. A noted psychology researcher at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, Dunn has just released a study that he insists renders the cougar craze a "myth." After examining the age preferences expressed in 22,400 singles ads on popular dating websites in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan, he found no sizable cohort of women seeking younger men. To the contrary, the lioness' share wanted men their own age or older. Nor did he find evidence for the proliferation of cubs: the overwhelming majority of men displayed their eons-old preference for younger women. "I do believe the cougar phenomenon is a myth and, yes, a media construct," Dunn, who specializes in human evolutionary psychology and mating behavior, told the Australian Associated Press.

But, faster than Madonna can pick up a 21-year-old male model, the cougars and their supporters are striking back. "I get angered by this silliness," says Valerie Gibson, the British-born, Toronto-based journalist whose best-selling 2001 book, Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men, is considered the first to identify the wave that Dunn now wants to debunk. Gibson, a self-described cougar who is over 40 but won't reveal just how much over, sees in studies by investigators like Dunn %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94 who last year presented research that men who drive expensive cars really are more attractive to women %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94 an anti-cougar bias. "Society has always told us that the older woman who is still sexual isn't supposed to exist," she says. "We should be wrapped in a shawl baking cookies for our grandchildren and all that crap."

What's more, a 2003 study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that while a not surprising two-thirds of U.S. men over 40 were dating younger women, an unexpected 34% of 40-plus women were dating younger men. And 35% said they preferred it to dating same-age or older men. That study offers a more valid picture than Dunn's, Gibson insists, because it reflects who older women are actually dating these days as opposed to what they're socially conditioned to tell dating sites they're interested in.

Dunn denies any misogynist agenda, although, when asked last year if his car research suggested women are shallow, he was quoted as saying, "Let's face it, there's evidence to support it." He also suggested to AAP (Australian Associated Press) that the cougar craze may well be fabricated by "the 'cougar' or 'toy-boy' dating agencies themselves." But Rich Gosse, executive producer of in San Francisco, said his business wouldn't be growing %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94 next month the International Cougar Convention will take place in London %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94 if the number of cougar-cub relationships wasn't burgeoning as well.

Gosse, author of his own book on the subject, The Cougar Imperative, acknowledges that Dunn's website research is probably accurate. But, like Gibson, he insists that while women may still state a preference for older men on the Internet, on the ground the empirical evidence suggests that traditional inclination is falling away among many older females. "What's changed so dramatically in the past few years is how much more open women are to the possibility of looking for younger men, and vice versa," says Gosse."

by Demi Moorereply 2712/08/2012

"And that, says Gibson, is largely a product of women's new Sex in the City-style economic independence. In the past, she notes, only aristocratic women could "get away with flouting the rules about being in a relationship with a younger man," not just because they could pay the champagne bill but because their resources and education often kept them younger-looking and more intriguing to young studs. Today, she says, the middle-aged of the middle class can take that path too.

Miss Cougar Canada, Alison Brown (who "won't admit to being anything more than 45"), is a divorced single mom in Toronto who has her own online art gallery and is a personal trainer. "What I've noticed on online dating sites today," Brown says in response to Dunn's study, "is that younger men are coming on to me, and it's not just because we're 'easy marks' for sex. It's because we're successful, intelligent, looking great and we don't play games like so many of the younger girls they date."

Then again, Gibson adds, "it's also because we're great in bed." Still, while Dunn's study doesn't definitively mean cougars are a myth, it raises interesting questions about why more older women today may be eager to date younger men but not so keen to admit it on dating sites. Either way, it doesn't prove that they're shallow. Mysterious, maybe, as any cub will attest."

by Demi Moorereply 108/19/2010

"Gibson, a self-described cougar who is over 40 but won't reveal just how much over"%0D %0D %0D %0D %0D Um...doesn't this pretty much prove his point? Many women lie about their ages because youth is attractive to men. If she thinks there are a ton of guys looking for much older women she is wrong. Maybe 34% of women are dating younger guys...but I'd wager most of those guys are just a few years older than the alleged cougars they are dating. It's not uncommon for women to date men a few years younger but it is pretty uncommon for women to date men young enough to be their sons.

by Demi Moorereply 208/19/2010

I've noticed a huge thread here on datalounge gossiping about known homo experiences with the well-known (to be straights). Can one of you rich DL members please start a thread of well-known cougars?

She's now long deceased but Marthra Ray was a huge cougar with a voracious appetite for young tender cubs. Marthra Ray called herself the "Big Mouth" and was last known whoring toothpaste on TV in the 1980's. I'm not real hip on her earlier career but I'm sure she had a very long one. She had an open door policy for any young man who wondered into her Orange County California home.

Any other known cougars past/present?

by Demi Moorereply 312/07/2012

Because no young man could ever be attracted to an older woman. NEVER!

by Demi Moorereply 412/07/2012

Social conditioning is very powerful. Men in their twenties and early thirties are in their biological prime, yet many or most women seem embarrassed if they admit to finding a younger man attractive. An attractive man is an attractive man. It doesn't make any sense not to find a young, fit man attractive on some level, even if you are (gasp!) a few years older than he.

by Demi Moorereply 512/07/2012

I'm just looking for known cougs... anyone? Martha Fucking Ray, the Big Mouth, can't be the only 70 year old cougar to have ever roamed the earth. Nes Pas?

by Demi Moorereply 612/07/2012

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi dates the yummy Louis Garrel. She's 48, he's 29.

by Demi Moorereply 712/07/2012

A family friend was happily married to a woman 8 years his senior for 50 years. Not a huge age difference, but pretty unusual for the GI generation.

by Demi Moorereply 812/07/2012


Easy for you to say.

by Demi Moorereply 912/07/2012

" Many women lie about their ages because youth is attractive to men."

Oh, honey. You have NO idea how many straight men lie about their age because youth is attractive to women.

by Demi Moorereply 1012/07/2012

I don't think Martha Raye was a cougar at all. Sure, she married a younger man, but he was a screaming queen who wanted to inherit her money.

by Demi Moorereply 1112/07/2012

— you R9!

by Demi Moorereply 1212/07/2012

If women are honest, nothing beats fucking a hot 20 year old man. No comparison to a saggy-balled 50 year old.

by Demi Moorereply 1312/07/2012

Usually women over 45 are tired of men.

by Demi Moorereply 1412/07/2012

r14, Tired of all men or just tired of old men? Also. 45 coincides pretty close to menopause. Maybe the old catcher's mit simply gets too dry and dusty.

r11, I know of first hand accounts of Martha Raye on the prowl in Southern California. A genuine Martharayus Cougaranus. However, I just sent an email to Raye's official biographer. I'll let you know what Noonie has to say about it.

by Demi Moorereply 1512/07/2012

Don't cougars often pick up guys in bars? I can't imagine that singles ads is the way they go about it usually.

by Demi Moorereply 1612/07/2012

Any study based on singles ads just isn't scientifically credible. I assume there are also special singles groups dedicated to older women/younger men, and older men/younger women, that were unknown/unexplored by this guy. There are probably many reasons a woman would ask for men her own age and not consider younger guys, not least of which most women don't think a young guy would be interested. Men always think they can get someone more attractive no matter how fugly or ancient they are. Women don't seem to have that kind of confidence/delusion.

I've known of several older women/younger men relationships in my real life. My sister's friend who is now 72 dated a 36 year old man a few years ago. She dumped HIM because he gained 40 pounds, and she's not attracted to heavy men. She's had other younger boyfriends over the years, but last I heard she was with a guy closer to her own age. My friend, who is in her mid-40's, has younger and older men after her, never guys her own age. At her last job, a 26 year old was pursuing her big time, but she wasn't interested. That kind of stuff happens to her pretty often.

My best male friend has been married for 20 years to a woman nine years older than him, and she was divorced with a kid when they got together in his early 20's. His mom has had several relationships since she got divorced from his dad, one with a much older man, another with a much younger guy. Most of the people I know who are coupled are close in age, but this stuff does happen, it's not like coming across a unicorn. I'm living in the burbs, so it's not exactly Sex in the City here. None of these women had plastic surgery, and the guys they attract are pretty damn good looking, and could certainly be with younger women if that's what they wanted.

by Demi Moorereply 1712/08/2012

If a study based on singles ads isn't scientifically credible (which may well be true), R17, what does that make your completely unreliable anecdotal stories?

by Demi Moorereply 1812/08/2012

What age difference constitutes a cougar-cub relationship?

by Demi Moorereply 1912/08/2012

Because I was curious, I put a personal ad and recent pic on OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish. I am child-free and a UCLA grad. I'm still flooded with responses from men of all ages, from aged 21 up. Younger guys do a stronger "sales pitch," stating that they are sick of immature, selfish young girls, who never dress to please a man. Yes I am seeking a more traditional relationship. Older men THINK that they want someone much younger. They tend to be very rigid, wanting a girl to enjoy music, movies, and entertainment from the past. By the end of the date, they'll talk about their sons that they think you should be dating. Wonder if it's the same way with elder gays who think they'd be happy dating a much younger man.

What age spread are we talking about? If it's a more traditional relationship, where the man is the principal breadwinner, is it still considered a cougar relationship? Young entrepreneurs often choose fancy cars and older, more interesting, yet still very attractive women.

by Demi Moorereply 2012/08/2012

I hate the double standard. Women after younger men get to be called "cougars."

Men after younger women are called "perverts." In the gay community, men after younger men are called "trolls" or "chickenhawks."

I guess men, gay and straight, deserve the labels we've gotten because of our behaviour over the years?

by Demi Moorereply 2112/08/2012

[quote]men after younger men are called "trolls" or "chickenhawks."

Correction: men who are after BOYS are called "trolls" or chickenhawks"

by Demi Moorereply 2212/08/2012

Truth of the matter is older people of any orientation or gender would not turn down a genuine younger lover. It's another matter on how prevalent it is and how much of it is a media narrative.

by Demi Moorereply 2312/08/2012

There's no such thing as 'British.'

by Demi Moorereply 2412/08/2012

R23, That's not necessarily true. There are many qualities besides age and looks that determine attraction and compatibility. I've turned down plenty of younger, beautiful men.

by Demi Moorereply 2512/08/2012

[r25] I agree. The operative word in my post was "genuine". Also, it doesn't always imply or infer a "relationship" as opposed to an "adventure". Again, "genuine" is the operative word.

by Demi Moorereply 2612/08/2012

Oh, and [r25] you actually support the theory that the cougar thing is an exaggerated concept. Ater all how do we gather the statistics and then actually verify what goes on in their private lives.

by Demi Moorereply 2712/08/2012
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