Are More Older Women With Younger Men?
May 5, 2005 -- -- What do Samantha on "Sex and the City," and Gabrielle on "Desperate Housewives" have in common?
Sex and relationships columnist Valerie Gibson would call them "cougars" -- women who date men more than eight years their junior -- and they're part of a trend that's coming off the screen and out of the bedroom.
Gibson says the term originated in Vancouver, British Columbia, as a put-down for older women who would go to bars and go home with whoever was left at the end of the night.
But now, it's more positive -- describing women usually their in 30s and 40s, who are financially stable and mentally independent and looking for a younger man to have fun with.
Gibson, who is single but has been married five times -- the last time to a man 15 years younger -- describes cougars like herself this way: "She's in control. She's very attractive. And she's very sexy."
The National Association of Retired Persons released a survey in 2003 revealing that one-third of the single women between 40 and 60 are dating younger men. (But they didn't say how much younger.)
Comedienne Fran Drescher, 47, said the trend might be due to increased self-sufficiency among the fairer sex. The former star of "The Nanny" dated a man 16 years her junior for four years and now uses those experiences in her new sitcom "Living with Fran," in which she plays a divorcée with a 20-something boyfriend.
"They no longer have to evaluate a man based off of whether or not they're going to be a good provider and take care of them," she said. That opens up "a much wider pool to choose from," Drescher said.
There may also be more cougars today because there are more men that love them.
Self-described cougar hunters, 29-year-old Jeremy Mape, who works in commercial real estate in San Francisco, and 28-year-old Mark Lobosco, who is in software sales there, say they like the confidence and sexual experience of the cougars they know -- and the fact most are not looking for commitment.