A Cougar’s Committed Relationship - Seven Years Later, Still Going Strong “Love is like a virus, it can happen to anybody at anytime.” Maya Angelou
I'm a cougar. I'm also a widow. May 16, 2006, my husband of 24 years was tragically killed, and I became single at the ripe old age of 47. I was happily married to my husband, who was only a year older than me, and wasn't aware that I had the "cougar gene" in me until his death. After an intense period of mourning, I decided I needed male companionship, but wasn't ready to jump into a "serious" relationship. The term “cougar” implies an older woman on the prowl for her prey - a “cub” or much younger man. I wasn’t “on the prowl”; in fact the young men pursued me. Although it was fun, I was completely unprepared for the flirting and aggressive questions that I encountered from men in their twenties and thirties, such as, “How long has it been since you’ve had sex?” or “Have you ever done it with another girl?” I had been in the "married" world most of my adult life, and never went through the dating scene. I have to admit, it was very flattering to be "hit on" by younger men. My daughter aged 22 informed me that an older man pursuing a girl in her twenties is considered “creepy.” Conversely, there seems to be an unwritten code in the 21st century that promotes younger men being with older women. These young cubs had confidence, a full head of hair, muscular bodies, and dressed well. At clubs, they bought us drinks and offered us seats at their VIP tables with bottle service. In one instance, a wealthy younger man who was interested in me actually paid a bouncer to keep annoying guys away from one of my friends. I was initially very naïve, and didn't realize that you don’t give your cell phone number to every guy who asked, because you’ll get texted or called at 4 am. On more than one occasion, a guy would call asking intrusive questions about my sexual fantasies or describe in a text how great sex would be with him. Guys would beg me to send naked photos (I never did), or occasionally texted unsolicited pictures of their proudly displayed penises.
Why would a guy in his late 20's or early 30's want someone who's older with three kids and stretch marks? Why not choose the younger nubile bodies of girls their age? I asked a few of my younger men what their reasons were, and they'd say, “Older women are hot.” My guess is that they were attracted to my confidence, and the lack of pressure that I placed on them to be involved in a relationship. I didn't want to get married, I didn't want their money, and I certainly didn't want to have their babies. All I wanted was to have fun. Knowing that these were not going to be long-term relationships made it simple, and enjoyable at a time when my life was frequently unstable.
Going out with men my age was a different ballgame. Often this required me to listen to stories of wicked exes and the massive amounts of money they lost paying alimony and child support. Many of the guys had negative feeling towards women after being in failed marriages. Additionally, keeping in shape and well groomed didn’t seem to be a high priority for many older gents. There weren’t a lot of widowers in their 40’s, so most available men are either divorced or have never been married. To summarize, I found younger guys to be more desirable. They hadn’t been married, and had more positive untainted views of women than their older divorced male counterparts.
This was my life as an “untamed” cougar from Chicago, IL until I met Steve. This tall, handsome, 33-year-old man wasn’t looking to be involved in a relationship and neither was I. Our worlds collided on February 29, 2008 - a leap year, when my friend Susie and I crashed Steve’s company’s private party at “The Pink Elephant” in New York City. We were only in New York for one night, and what began as idol flirting turned into an intense attraction. Neither of us could have predicted that our long distance relationship would survive the many obstacles ahead. Steve’s devotion to me and his strong character are what attracted me to him. He’s told me on more than one occasion that what he loves most about me is my upbeat personality. We thoroughly enjoy each other’s company and respect one another. Age is only a number in our eyes.
Are there challenges due to big age differences? Yes! I think a main issue can be is if a couple’s life goals are different. Thankfully, we seem to want the same things. In our case, I didn’t want any more children, and I made that clear from day one. Steve has stated that having children wasn’t a deal breaker for him. He’s always put my three children’s needs before his own, and that generosity of spirit is another of his endearing qualities. We have gone through different life passages, and we’re aware that we’ll need to continually address this together as a team. We enjoy many similar interests such as music, comedy, and travel.
Introducing a much younger man, as your boyfriend was no easy task. For instance, when a man of my age found out that I was dating Steve, some sort of macho/defensive armor arose and remarks such as; “Are you going to babysit him?” or “Do you change his diapers?” were not uncommon. Women sometimes were equally rude, and called him my “Boy Toy.” My parents were concerned that he would leave me when I started, “looking old.” His parents initially had no desire to meet me stating, “You’re wasting your time with her, since she won’t give us grandchildren.” Over the years, our family and friends have witnessed our love and devotion and now accept and appreciate us as a committed couple.
There’s a 50% divorce rate in the United States, and no guarantees that any relationship will last. For the past seven years, we’ve overcome two huge obstacles; long distance and a large age gap, and this in itself would indicate the strength of our relationship. Is he going to leave me when I “look old”? He’s probably no more likely to leave me than any same aged man would leave a partner if she “looked old.” Do we argue and have normal relationship problems just like any other couple? Of COURSE! Will I miss out on “the golden years” when my age group retires, and Steve is at the height of his career? My answer: He’ll keep me young! Steve explained it best once when a friend taunted him about being with me. The friend asked, “Steve, why would you want to be with an old lady?” He replied, “Karen has a young spirit and I’m attracted to that.” Will he resent me for not having his child? Again Steve said it best, “If I’m having as much fun with Karen in ten years as I do now, then all the sacrifices will be worth it.”