Cougar Break-Ups: Can Older Women-Younger Men Relationships Last?

Courteney Cox and David Arquette are the latest couple to split.

Oct. 13, 2010 — -- With Hollywood couples like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher in the spotlight, a phenomenon that was once taboo -- older women on the prowl for younger men-- seems to be the in-thing.

More and more women in Hollywood and beyond are ignoring the age gap when it comes to love. A third of middle-aged women are now dating men at least 10 years younger, according to a poll by the American Association of Retired Persons.

"Women are more successful and don't need a man for a paycheck, they want men who are carefree," psychoanalyst Dr. Bethany Marshall said on "Good Morning America."

While so-called "cougar" couples are more common than ever, so too are break-ups. "Cougar Town" star Courteney Cox and her husband of 11 years, David Arquette, are the latest in a string of break-ups between famous older women and younger men.

Long-time Hollywood couple Susan Sarandon, 63, and Tim Robbins, 51, called it quits over the summer. Madonna, 51, and ex-husband Guy Ritchie, who is 10 years her junior, split and now the Material Girl has an even younger beau, model Jesus Luz, 22.

Cox, 46, and Arquette, 39, announced that a "trial separation" Monday and in a statement said that their split "dates back for some time."

But while men have been making the May-December romance work for centuries, why does it so often fail for women?

Age Difference Can Lead to Immaturity, 'Mommy Problem'

Experts say with that age difference there can be immaturity on the part of the man, which eventually stifles passion in the bedroom.

On Howard Stern's Sirius radio show Tuesday, Arquette revealed why he and Cox decided to separate, saying Cox had become more like a mother than a lover.

"She says that to me: 'I don't want to be your mother anymore,'" Arquette said. "I appreciated that. I respected that. I've been going to therapy. I'm trying to grow up."

"We're not having sex, and I completely understand," Arquette added. "She's in a place of wanting to be real and emotional. She's an emotional being. She's an amazing woman. If it doesn't feel right, she doesn't feel like bonding in that way."

Ruth Houston, an infidelity expert, said it's common for older women to end up playing a motherly role in the relationship.

"He doesn't want to sleep with a mother. She doesn't want to sleep with a son -- that does not make for passion, which is the heart of any relationship," Houston said.

Arquette also admitted after he and Cox hadn't had sex for four months, he turned to bartender and aspiring actress Jasmine Waltz, 27. Waltz could not be reached for comment.

Are Younger Men Prone to Cheat?

A recent study from Cornell University said that a man is five times more likely to cheat when his partner earns more that he does.

Accusations of extramarital flings plagued Ashton Kutcher, who is 15 years younger than his partner, Demi Moore, when Star magazine released text messages from a 21-year-old who claimed she had slept with Kutcher.

On the same day rumors surfaced that Kutcher may have cheated, Moore posted a photo of herself on Twitter, flaunting her rock-hard body.

Ashton tweeted: "I think Star magazine calling me a cheater qualifies as defamation of character."

Former dynasty actress Linda Evans says the pressure of dating a younger man can be intense. She admitted to having plastic surgery to keep up with a much younger beau, musician Yanni, who eventually broke her heart.

"He was somebody who exploded in my life it was so intense and so unbelievable," Evans said, adding that their breakup was devastating.

Experts say there is fear that a man will leave for someone younger, putting added pressure on the woman to maintain a strict diet and exercise to keep up with him. That makes break-ups extra painful because women blame their age, and insecurities can develop.

Psychoanalyst Dr. Bethany Marshall said society must evolve to accept the realities of relationships between older women and younger men.

"You see younger men who enjoy the fact that the woman has a higher level of achievement and success and because of that they want to support her," Marshall said. "Women who are more self-assured are more sexually available."

ABC News' Sheila Marikar contributed to this report.