Dating older women has become so popular it has created a shortage, according to the organizer of the first Cougar Convention in Toronto this Friday.
Rich Gosse, who bills himself as America’s foremost authority on finding a romantic partner, claims Demi Moore and Madonna have made dating older women so socially acceptable that men who were once afraid to be caught dead with older woman are now flocking to them.
“There’s not enough cougars to go around,” says Gosse, who has held cougar events across North American and Australia. The most recent one in Chicago drew 400 men and women.
“In the olden days when we would do these cougar parties, we always got too many women, we couldn’t find any guys who were willing to come and date older women,” says Gosse. “They were too embarrassed to admit they were dating a woman as old as their mothers. That all changed. Now, there’s actually a greater demand among the cubs for the cougars.”
Actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore got the ball rolling with their May-December relationship, but Gosse believes it was baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez who made it even more socially acceptable, when it was reported in 2008 that he was in a relationship with Madonna that ended both their marriages. There is a 17-year age difference between them.
“If Alex Rodriguez, the $250 million-dollar man who can have any woman in the world he wants is dating a 50- year old woman, Madonna, there’s gotta be something to these cougars. He’s the one who made it socially acceptable to date an older woman and even brag to your buddies about it,” says Gosse.
Despite heroic attempts to normalize the term, including a poorly received television series starring Courtney Cox, the word still seems to invite ridicule. A recent Air New Zealand spoof of cougars depicted them as voracious, orange-faced desperados, lunging at young men.
In fact, older women say the opposite is true. Younger men pursue older women.
“Not that I’m looking for a relationship, but if I were, I would pick an older, more established man, the tall, silver-hair look. But the younger guys seem to be attracted to me for some reason and they seem to find me,” says Mary Taylor, a single network marketing professional and the author of Bedroom Games.
She plans to attend Friday’s event at Sixty-9 Bathurst Nightclub. The only rule for women is they must be over 35 and legally single. The “cubs” are expected to vote on the woman they want to be crowned Miss Cougar Canada.
“It’s the first one I’ve ever gone to. I don’t really know what to expect. I’m just looking forward to having a really fun night.”
Married and divorced twice, Taylor has had two relationships with younger men, which have ended by mutual agreement. Although they were fun, eventually the age difference did have an impact.
“A lot of them are not as secure financially, so they can’t really do as much as I like to do, travel and take the time off. I’m self-employed, I’m used to doing things I like to do when I want to do them. A lot of younger guys are tied to jobs.”
Gosse says while some of the cubs are looking for relationships, others aren’t, and the first question an older woman should ask is whether a younger man is interested in settling down and having kids. If the woman is too old or has already done that, she has to be prepared when the younger man decides he wants a family.
“You have to protect yourself from getting your heart broken. Otherwise you have to be aware that he is going to leave you and marry someone else and have babies.”