Recent studies show cougardom does come down to a number: 4 years and 4 months.
I thought the terms “cougar” and “sugar daddy” were so five or 10 years ago, fleeting concepts that came in vogue around the time Ashton and Demi became a couple. But lately I’m hearing them more and more. Maybe no one dates and pursues relationships in their age bracket anymore?
The Washington Post’s “Ask Amy” answered a query about age gaps in relationships just the other day. A self-described “old guy with a crush on a young woman” (she’s old enough to be of consent age, though, he assured) wanted Amy’s permission to pursue dating her. In response she basically told the old guy to go have fun. “Other than the varying expectations and issues brought about by your different stages in life (and the tendency of people like me to be snarky about it), this is a victimless caper.”
Interestingly, earlier this year, a study by confused.com—questioning 2,000 adults—revealed that age-gap relationships are becoming more popular. However, the “ideal” age difference is four years and four months.
Lastly, the world’s largest sugar daddy dating site, sugardaddyforme.com, says that sugar daddy scenarios—older gent, younger gal—are on the rise too. If their site is a barometer, membership has gone up 30 percent since 2012.
I’m not sure if cougarhood is enjoying the same heyday. There’s still a bit of a stigma, I think, when a woman has a boyfriend or husband below her age, whether she’s 30 or 60. Immediately she takes on the persona of a Mrs. Robinson, aggressively making advances and probably puffing on a cigarette seductively wearing leopard print or leather all the while. A cougar in the wild, afterall, is a dangerous predator that will eat any animal it can catch.
My own experience with cougardom came a few years ago when I apparently had the nerve to date a man five years younger than me. I was living in D.C. and we were brief coworkers who discovered a mutual affection and attraction. Isn’t that how these things always start? When our courtship began he was 22 and I was 27, practically limping around with arthritis I was such an advanced age. Since the definition of Millennials is about the broadest ever applied to an age group we were technically in the same generation. Maybe, from time to time, he didn’t get a bad “Back to the Future” or Ace of Base reference I made. But those were likely bad jokes anyway.
As a matter of fact, the only time our age difference came up was at a bar when we first realized we liked each other during a friend’s birthday party drinking copious beers late into the night. Very eloquently I’m sure, I asked him something along the lines of, “If we were the same age, would you be into me?” I sensed a spark and put that out there to him without thinking. “I’m into you … period,” he responded, letting me know that the age difference in no way mattered.
I guess that’s how I feel to this day. If two people are into each other, that’s the test. Who cares if they’re the same race, the same religion, the same political party. If there’s enough in common to latch onto that makes seeing each other worthwhile and awesome, rock on. Too bad the waiters, waitresses and bar staff at my side job didn’t see if that way. I quickly became “The Coug,” a sort of Mrs. Robinson in training in their taunts. It was a running joke that lasted even beyond my relationship.
I guess there are more of us Cougs out there, whether male or female. Maybe all the talk about age difference and numbers to back up the prevalence of relationships with age differences is signaling acceptance.