I Don’t Want To Be A Cougar; I Want A Relationship With A Younger Man!


Firstly, thanks for all your advice and wisdom and your massively entertaining style. I’m learning fast but still have a problem… I’m in my late 40’s, separated last year (relief), successful, and have an awesome life. I’m highly attractive, hot even!, fit, fun, feminine and not clingy. I’m a really good catch!! I have no trouble attracting men of all ages. The problem is: I am not attracted to men my own age. I love guys who are around the 30 year old mark. Yes, playing with fire I know!! Unfortunately, it seems, single guys my own age either cannot match my physical energy and sheer enthusiasm for life or they are taken already! Many of them are lonely, often damaged by failed relationships and looking for someone to share a latte with on a Sunday morning for the next 40 years… This is not what I want at this point in my life.

I find younger guys so much more fun and attracting them is easy, both online and off. But it’s difficult finding something deep and long lasting as I know these guys are usually hard wired to find ‘the one’ eventually. And– in most cases–that is not going to be with a woman who is pretty well past childbearing age… Bummer for me!

So do you think it is possible to have a passionate relationship of integrity (by that I mean more than just a romp) when there is a big age difference? I want more than the cougar/toy boy experience. It would be a cliche to write this off as midlife crisis, although I understand you could reach this conclusion. I am an exceptionally vibrant and youthful person for my age and I have a lot of close younger friends, but I really don’t know where to look to find my truly compatible match… Is he actually out there I wonder??


Dear AM,

Thanks for your letter and kind words. I try to be honest first, entertaining second, and nice third, so I’m glad to hear that I’m coming close to my intended goal.

Especially since my reply is not going to be all that nice.

A 30-year-old guy most likely sees you as a story, a fling, a reverse May-December romance that he will look back upon fondly one day when he tells his younger wife the tale of the oldest woman he ever bedded.

The fact is, your letter could have been written by a private client.

No joke.

When I hear on the phone “I’m in my late 40’s. People always think I’m younger because I’m so fit and energetic. I’m just not attracted to men my own age or older,” all I can do is smile and nod, the way you do when your friend asks if she looks fat in her jeans.

Understand: I don’t know you, haven’t seen you, and am not impugning your integrity.

All I’d ask you to do would be to put yourself in my position.

If every single man you met said, “I look great for my age. Women my age just can’t keep up with me. I need to find a woman who is 15-20 years younger who is really on my wavelength,” you would roll your eyes and wonder aloud what kind of delusional pot he was smoking. You’d think, “Dude, get OVER yourself. I mean, yeah, you have your hair and you’re pretty fit, but you don’t look as young as you think. Plus, what could you POSSIBLY have in common with a woman who could virtually be your daughter?”

Or something like that.

So I’m not judging you when you say that you prefer men 15-20 years younger.

I’ll just say to you what I’ve said to men who told me the same thing: who cares?

To your credit, you’ve already identified this flaw in your thinking:

Even if you look as good as you say, most 30-year-old men:

a)         Aren’t ready to settle down because they still have more oats to sow.

b)       Wouldn’t pick a 48-year-old woman when they could choose a 28-year-old who is probably firmer, more fertile, and has more years left on earth than you do.

Sorry. It’s that honesty thing again. But you already knew the 2 points above.

What you’re not seeing, however, is this:

A 30-year-old guy most likely sees you as a story, a fling, a reverse May-December romance that he will look back upon fondly one day when he tells his younger wife the tale of the oldest woman he ever bedded.

The other blind spot you appear to have is the same one that afflicts all of my clients over the age of 40: narcissism and exceptionalism.

If YOU’RE a fit, youthful, vibrant catch, who is an exception to what 48-year-old women should look like and act like, wouldn’t it stand to reason that there’s also a MAN out there who is ALSO a fit, youthful, vibrant, catch who looks young for his age?

To wit: if YOU’RE a fit, youthful, vibrant catch, who is an exception to what 48-year-old women should look like and act like, wouldn’t it stand to reason that there’s also a MAN out there who is ALSO a fit, youthful, vibrant, catch who looks young for his age?

And wouldn’t it be a shame if that man only thought that he should date women born in the 80’s because all women YOUR age are too old, damaged and boring to keep up?

Damn right it would.

So get off your pedestal and look around. If you’re in the Top 5% of women, then you should have no trouble attracting that rare 5% man who is willing to date a woman his own age.

Hold out for a young’un, and guess what, darlin’?

You’re no different than the shallow men we so roundly decry for age discrimination.

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  1. 1

    I’m sure that’s nice advice but it doesn’t answer her question of whether she can find a younger partner for a relationship not just based on sex. The answer is of course yes but there are of course pitfalls-as in any relationship. Don’t dismiss everyone round your own age as past it & don’t dismass all the younger guys as just looking for a shag.

    1. 1.1

      Correct!!! There are guys in their early 30`s such as myself that would actually like to find a woman of an older age to date, get to know and eventually get into a serious relationship with. It all depends on the person you are talking to and what you all are both looking for. I also don’t believe any relationship can be successful if it’s based solely off sex, people catch feelings and one may have stronger feelings than the other and then thats where the trouble starts.

  2. 2

    Who writes these questions anyway?   Good to have confidence, but so many of these letters claim these women are ‘all that and a bag of chips’.   Wonder how this comes off when relating to a man?

    This woman isn’t divorced yet, maybe it might be better to slow down and get a grip on where she is in her life.   No harm in dating all kinds of men and having fun.    People who are newly separated do   not make for good mates.   Separating and divorcing from a marriage or long term relationship is a process, which requires steps and, if done  in a constructive way,  important lessons are learned.   This is no matter how crappy the relationship was.   I must admit I was under the same delusion, that I could   just start my new life after my husband I decided we weren’t going to married any longer.   Now in hindsight, I can see the changes I went through and where I am today is different from where I was 4 years ago.

  3. 3

    I can understand what AM has shared to an extent. I am fortunate in that I have aged gracefully, and I love to do all kinds of fun activities. But while much younger men have taken an interest in me, I won’t allow myself to go there because I know there’s no future and it’s not what I want. Yet the men that are closer to my age who are available either want someone younger or they rarely interest me. Sometimes it’s because of their appearance, but more so because of their life stories and their emotional health, or lack thereof. (And yes, I know. I have life stories, too.) And true to life, the 60 plus crowd shows a lot of interest, too, but I just can’t seem to move beyond the thought of becoming someone’s nurse or wondering how many people they’ve slept with. As a friend recently said, “Well, the 50 year old wants someone 35, and the 65 year old is too old for you.” True. I just keep looking. 🙂

  4. 4

    Whether you are male or female, an 18-year age difference is pretty big. Most people, regardless of age, want someone who is within 5-10 years of their own age. Why does AM’s partner have to be that much younger? I’m around the same age as the OP, also don’t look or act it, and generally date men who are a few years younger, but 15-20 years seems like a stretch.  

    If she’s not even divorced yet, it sounds like she isn’t ready for something more serious.  It’s hard to believe that she is seriously looking for something “deep and long-lasting” with someone so much younger, especially knowing how hard it would be to find that person in the first place.  If 40 years drinking lattes on Sunday sounds too permanent at this point, what’s wrong with a fling?   Also, if AM has so many close, younger friends, why not ask them to set her up?

  5. 5

    Evan wrote
    The other blind spot you appear to have is the same one that afflicts all of my clients over the age of 40: narcissism and exceptionalism.

    Evan, by this do you mean that many people think they are more special than other people in the dating pool and that the rules that apply to other people don’t apply to them personally?

  6. 6

    Many of them are lonely, often damaged by failed relationships and looking for someone to share a latte with on a Sunday morning for the next 40 years..

    To me, this doesn’t sound like something exclusive to men around the OPs age. When I’ve read online profiles of guys in their 30’s (this is the age group I look in, me being in my late 20s) most of them say or imply that they want sort of companion. And some profiles you can sense a bit of “failed relationships” in those too. So really, I think the mindset of the OP is a little off. This is a universal thing.

    Of course the OP has a chance at finding a long lasting good relationship with a younger guy. It’s just that the odds aren’t in her favor if she does that exclusively, which she already seems to know. All you can do is weed out the ones who wants flings faster and open up your dating opens to more quality guys.

  7. 7

    @Eve #1
    IMHO I thought Evan did answer her question and the answer was “not likely”.

  8. 8

    Younger guys want to hook up with older women for sex.   Relationships aren’t likely.   There is the subculture gap between age groups getting in the way.   Then there is the issue of whether or not he can handle the way his circle of people will view him being seen with a significantly older partner.   Additionally many guys will likely be thinking it is fun for now but in ___ years she will be ___ and he will be only____ and does he really want to be stuck with a person that old when he is ___ and could be with a woman who is ____.

    Exceptions do happen, but they are exceptions, not the trend for what happens with most people.

    1. 8.1

      that’s a good point you made.

  9. 9

    I agree with almost everything Evan said…I do think you need to be open to a range of ages – both older and younger – the focus should be on finding the person who is right for you, not how old they are.   It goes without saying that the person who is right for you will be able to keep up with you, regardless of how old he is.  
    The only thing I disagree with is the comment that if you are in the top 5%, then attracting a mate in the top 5% should be easy.   Maybe the attracting is easy, but the finding is not.   When you are 26 almost everyone is fit and healthy and fairly attractive.   As you get older, there are a lucky few who retain all those characteristics, but they are few and far between.   Because they are rare, there is nothing easy about finding them.
    But, I see AM’s point.   I am a 35 year old female, 105lbs, blonde hair, blue eyes and fairly attractive.   I’m no Angelina Jolie, but I don’t scare small children, either.   I am complimented frequently on my appearance and I keep myself in shape.   (Sorry Evan for being one of your typical responders!)   I would prefer a man as close to my own age as possible, but have a hard time finding a single man of that age.   Which means I get a lot of offers from younger (average 26) and older (average 50) men.   Quite frankly I tend to date the younger ones for reasons similar to AM’s — the older ones I have dated either cannot keep up physically, realize they have waited too long to start a family and want me as a baby factory, or want me as a weekend nanny to their kids from prior marriages.   You can say a significantly younger man has an agenda for dating an older woman — but older men also have an agenda for dating significantly younger women.   The agendas are just different.  
    So my suggestion to AM would be twofold:   first, give guys your age a chance to prove whether or not they can keep up.   If you find one who can, don’t discount him on age alone.   Second, try expanding your search geographically if you can.   I’ve found I have had more luck finding what I want (my age, no kids) by being willing to look beyond the typical 50 mile search range on most online sites.  

  10. 10

    Denise 2
    Who writes these questions anyway?   Good to have confidence, but so many of these letters claim these women are ‘all that and a bag of chips’.   Wonder how this comes off when relating to a man?
    Isn’t it a kicker Denise?     And women are the ones who vocally complain about men’s inflated egos :).
    Just the other day I got into an IM conversation with a woman who gave me the same line as the OP, along the lines of “men my age can’t keep up with me”.
    I’m guess that means the women who write this are fitness enthusiasts who do half marathons or they are amphetamine addicts.

  11. 11

    This doesn’t answer her question but I have to wonder why there are so many 50 year men and women who really think that they look 30? And as many super fit active baby boomers I see, why do people think that being fit and active makes them so unique?   In my fitness classes, I was always the youngest by a good bit.   Everyone, including the teachers always seemed to be north of 40 and in amazing shape.   Maybe it’s b/c what might come naturally to people has to be worked for more as you age?   Orthopedic surgeons are struggling to keep up with older people who want a new knee to do the Iron Man.   It’s not just 1 or 2 people who are like that.
    A lot of people brag about looking so young online but they are always wrong in my opinion ( say that as a 30 something).   My favorite was looking at the picture of someone I’d peg as 45-50 bragging that he knew he looked young b/c until 5 years ago, he was still getting carded at Trader Joes. Yeah, well, my local Trader Joes (and several other stores) had signs that they carded anyone that they thought was 40 or under. So in his case, they had him just right and stopped carding him by his 40th birthday. Getting carded does not mean you look 21.   It just is policy in some places that unless you have your grandkids with you, they want to see ID.
    I think that the best answer is that she might find a younger man who is willing to forgo having natural children to marry her but just like anyone who is dating out of their age range(or any other “range”), the percentage of people who are willing to do that is going to be small. And she might find someone who will stay married to her until she really starts to look like an old lady.
    Seriously, there have to be more fit 45-50 year olds who actually do want a woman their age than 30 somethings who want a 50 year old (although true, many men will try and fail to get younger women), but there are still probably more men in the 40+ crowd who would be willing to go for her. And seriously, why SO young? Lots of men still look GREAT at 40 and are super fit and active.
    Anyone who is so convinced that they look so much younger really should spend time in a crowd of people who are really that age.   A “young” looking 48 year old will totally stand out in a crowd of 30 year olds, and I don’t care how well you’ve taken care of yourself.   Hang out with a bunch of business school students, who are all about 30 and see if anyone really falls for that.   If you think you look like   a college student, hang out with some undergrads or med or law students, who are usually just a couple of years out.   In my business school, the MBAs sometimes crowded into the college bar and the comments you heard were “Why are there so many old guys here tonight?”   And they were saying that about a bunch of people who on average were 29-30.
    I think that Helen Mirren and   Susan Sarandon look smashing and could both pull younger boyfriends but let’s not pretend that they still look 40 either. Why isn’t anyone okay just saying that they are a hot X year old?
    I think that anyone’s hot much older partner might find themselves getting dumped when what is left of the bloom finally falls off the rose. Seriously, you are bound to age a lot more between 50 and 60 than your boytoy does between 30 and 40, and since men are so visual, that is bound to matter sooner or later.   Many public couples wind up in that situation once the lady is unable to maintain her “hotness.”
    What is important to remember is that the advice Evan gives is always reflective of the most likely scenario.   You might have beat the odds, but it still makes it the exception and not the rule.

  12. 12

    I only read this because… I don’t want to be anyone’s cougar! I have men 15 to 20 years younger contacting me…. Flattered at first glance…I now find it almost unflattering wondering what their motives are….
    While many attractive men my own age are looking for 20 years younger…I have to wonder if they have grown enough that I would even want them in my life! Their delusions of grandeur… may make them emotionally unavailable… They may be constantly seeking a thrill…
    However slim the pool may be…either direction… I agree with Evan…it is so very worth holding out for that man who may be near our age give or take a few years…who feel youthful in ways we might also feel…and ready to love and enjoy life together….just as we are!

  13. 13

    #10 Steve


    I know of ONE woman who  I think  NO ONE can keep up with, she’s the only one I’ve known in my whole life.     She has to be doing something every minute of every day–even sleeping is not conducive to resting and doing nothing–and I am not exaggerating either.   God love her on where she gets this energy, and she’s 54.   When my friend and I spend time with her, we want to know when cocktail time is!   🙂

    For those women that are ‘older’, we have the benefit of wisdom, maturity and have gotten over our sexual/body hangups.     No wonder the young men want us!   I am at the place in my life where I do not want to teach any man anything in a big picture way–not how to be a man, not how to be a good lover, not how women work (as close as a man is to figuring it out!).

  14. 14

    Seriously, there have to be more fit 45-50 year olds who actually do want a woman their age,,,
    There are plenty of attractive 45 + men and women out there who would make great partners and seek people their own age. Unfortunately there are too many people who have distorted definitions and perceptions of themselves and cling desperately to their youth. The OP likely enjoys the attention from younger men because she wants to feel young. She convinces herself that these men are genuinely interested in her and what she has to offer. Some are. Most aren’t. Most of the attention from these men is based purely on their desire to have sex with an “older woman” so, as Evan said, they have a story to tell to their bros over beers. By dating someone her age that would be an admission that she is no longer 30. She doesn’t want to face that yet. Which is why, I’ll bet,   she takes part in activities that are typically associated with “young” people and has younger friends. It’s not about not being able to relate to people her age. It’s denial and very much a mid-life crisis.

    1. 14.1

      True, but let’s face it, quite a few don’t. Someone who is active and stays fit in their 40s maybe have trouble finding suitable companion their own age due to the fact that too many don’t stay active. So while it would be a good idea to still open to people her age, there’s nothing wrong with being open to younger ones if she has more in common with them. I have one good friend that’s about 7 years older and another that’s about 12 years younger, and talking with them doesn’t feel awkward at all. While age difference does matter to an extent, so does shared interests and hobbies.

  15. 15

    @Andrea #11
    I think one of the frequent blunders of online profiles is telling people that you look younger than you are.     If it is true, you can let them decide it from your pictures and meeting you.     If it is not true, you just look out of touch bringing it up.

  16. 16

    I was 44, had just ended a 9-month relationship and was back on the dating scene again.   I had Evan help me with my profile and set out to date men around my own age or older.   Guess what?   They didn’t want me.   They wanted someone way younger.   Don’t know if it was to have kids with or what, but that was my reality. The men who actively sought me out online, and at my dating service?   Were 28-38.   I put “no” in my profile in response to the “Do you wish to have children?” question, and every man who was ambivalent about having kids (or actively did not want them) was looking to take me out.
    At first, it was a bit disconcerting — but I decided to just go with it.   What the heck.   My friends teased me about being a cradle robber, and I made my share of cougar jokes.   But I found myself having a great time.   There are mature and immature men in all age ranges!   Dating a 45-year-old doesn’t mean you’ll get a grownup, and dating a 35-year-old doesn’t mean you’ll get a kid.
    The man who pursued me with the most enthusiasm was kind of an old soul in a lot of ways.   He was on bended knee, proposing, six months after our first date… and he was 33 to my 44.   We’ll celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary on January 1, and couldn’t be happier. He’s 39, and I recently turned 50.   So what?   He would still have been the right guy for me if he were 26, 36, 46 or 56. Age truly is “just a number” under many (though not all) circumstances.
    So in answer to the letter writer — yes, it’s more than possible to find a real relationship with a man in his 30s when you’re in your 40s.   However, instead of marketing yourself as “young for my age!   Really!!   Honest!” how about marketing yourself instead as not interested in having kids, in no big hurry to marry again, just looking for companionship and intelligent conversation and an active friendship, and see what happens?
    My husband had plenty of opportunities to date hot women younger than himself, but he didn’t want to because in that age range he found they were DESPERATE to get married and have babies right this second!   It would make him run for the hills.   He told me when we were dating: “I brag to all my friends about you. You’re the first woman it was ever totally my idea to be with and pursue.   You don’t need a man, but you choose to be with me.   You don’t need to be supported emotionally or financially.   Plus, you don’t want kids and neither do I.” All those things were huge to him, and we clicked accordingly.   I’m a catch despite my average looks — bright, accomplished, and easy to be with — but instead of chasing after the men I thought I wanted, I put myself out there and let the men who wanted ME gather.   It was pleasantly surprising who did.   And I just picked.

    1. 16.1

      Love this response thank you!

    2. 16.2

      I think there is like a “collective belief” about women >40 and this story it’s a great example that it doesn’t have to be this way! Not all people of similar age are looking for the same and sometimes those of different age ranges find each other and are very happy.

      Such a lovely story, BeenTrueTheWars!

      “Life really does begin at 40. Up until then, you are just doing research.” 😉
      -Carl G. Jung.

  17. 17
    Karl R

    AM asked: (original post)
    “So do you think it is possible to have a passionate relationship of integrity (by that I mean more than just a romp) when there is a big age difference?”

    My girlfriend is 16 years older than me. We’ve been dating for 16 months, and we both see this as the beginning of a permanent relationship.

    A few years earlier,  I dated a woman 11 years younger than me. Our relationship ended because she wanted lots of kids, and I wanted none. If it wasn’t for that, we might still be together.

    It is possible.

    AM said: (original post)
    “I am not attracted to men my own age. I love guys who are around the 30 year old mark.  […] single guys my own age either cannot match my physical energy and sheer enthusiasm for life”

    I’m with Evan. You need to get over yourself.

    Your physical energy level can’t be as high as you believe. If it was, even the 30 year olds wouldn’t be keeping up with you either.

    I’ve dated women 11 years younger, 16 years older, and every age in between. None of them have kept up with me. If I added “comparable energy level” to my more important criteria, I would be dateless. (The ex-girlfriend who came closest   to my energy level  was 9 years older than me.)

    Instead, I date women who can keep up with me much of the time, and don’t mind that I’m out staying busy when they need a break.

    There are women out there who meet or exceed my energy level, but few enough that I’d need to solely  choose dates based on  that quality  if I wanted to date them  regularly. It’s just not that important to me. I’d rather be with someone who is fun, unconditionally accepting, sweet, etc.

  18. 18

    Firstly thanks Evan for your honest, as always, response. Of course I knew you would say all that…but narcissism and exceptionalism..?  Judgmental words..  maybe an ounce of truth..but I think the barriers are down these days and age demographics are blurred. It doesn’t have to be the reflection of a major personality disorder!
    Secondly Denise,  I wrote my own question without a single edit from Evan. And I don’t need to  sell myself  to younger guys, I’m just very comfortable in my own skin and with my sexuality and they happen to find me attractive. And there are a lot  of younger men who actually prefer the company of older women both emotionally and sexually. I have been living apart from my husband for 18 months now and both he and I have strived very hard to maintain our friendship and our business. Not for you to assume it wasn’t done constructively or that important (and painful) lessons haven’t been learned. I have a very positive and centered grip on my life, thank you anyway!  And I don’t have an inflated ego, nor do I think for a minute that  I look 30! It’s not so much about physical age as mentality and energy.

    Steve, Evan does mean that, but I’m afraid there are people out here who don’t fit the norm and that’s without trying too hard. Of course I  wish I could find my equal and opposite in my own age group! And I am open to that, but frankly any guy that hot and together, of  my own  age, is probably going to be the property of some grateful wife! OR he will be hotly pursued by many women and doesn’t need to go online. In addition to that, I’m a performer in the world of  music theatre which is the gayest community on this planet!! (beautiful though they may be..!) It is virtually impossible to meet a straight single man at work..(my gorgeous younger female colleagues will attest to this). And yes of course younger men  are looking for sex. So am I!   But with some depth and commitment even if it’s not sharing sub-cultures all the time, (if ever).

    Thank you Diana,  Eve and Donna for ‘getting’ it.  And Ruby- you are right, I’m probably not up for  another ‘marriage’ yet. Bren – It’s hard to hold out (for years?) for the absolutely ideal man when you need to express yourself sexually.

    And yet,  since writing that letter I have been involved with a beautiful man, who is 20 years younger and with whom I have a rather special relationship.  Realistically it’s not going to last forever, I know that. And I know that I am aging faster than him at this stage…tricky..(but fun, and meaningful all the same!).   Meanwhile, I’m still hoping that the ‘right’ man will show up…which gets back to my original question..where is he? Because (so far) he ain’t online.

  19. 19

    BeenThruTheWars – You are A GEM.

    1. 19.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Actually, AM, while BeenThruTheWars is a favorite and a friend, she’s only “a gem” because told you want you want to hear. Truth is, not only are most 30 year olds not interested in women in their late 40’s, but they’re not good relationship bets because they’re immature, building their careers, and have lots more oats to sow. The exceptions do not disprove the rule. Proceed at your own risk.

  20. 20

    Of course you are right but you still haven’t answered my question..a really amazing hot successful man, who’s my age and not desperate/lonely/unhappy/inexperienced with women/in need of a child minder/in need of a movie  companion..  is not, in my experience  online. So where is he to be found..?

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