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June 12, 2017
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

Mad About Cougars

June 12, 2017 05:00 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW  [About the Author]

The 2017 political scene has brought the marriage of the President of France, Emmanual, and First Lady, Brigitte Macron into the center of the public spotlight. Much has been surmised about their relationship because of the difference in their ages — 24 years. Brigitte is the older of the two. Why do people care? The answer is not a simple this or that, but a conflict between the old and new regarding practices, ideas about women and their value (or lack thereof); and the belief that there are simply not enough men to go around. The root of this last notion is that there are those who think that older women have already had their chance and should move over so that younger women will have the same opportunity.

Humans are slow to change their set ideas. It would make sense that if reproduction is taken out of the equation — if those who wish to procreate are placed in a separate compartment, it would be irrelevant to become preoccupied with age.

How did the term “cougar” come about? Research reveals that a Canadian website in 1999,, was designed to help older women date younger men. This is the first known record of the use of the term. is alive and well online. The site claims to have thousands of cougars and toyboys to choose from. The sign up on the site is free and it is promised that you will be afforded “no strings attached” liaisons.

The not very subtle implication is that the women are the hunters who wish to prey on defenseless youngsters of the male gender. This, of course, is at odds with widely-held beliefs about men being the protectors of humanity. There do not appear to be published accounts of objections to this discrepancy, so, “cougar” stands firm.

Many individuals are both mad (angry) and mad (crazy) about the existence of the human female cougar.

Surveys that have attempted to gain a further understanding of the older woman (ow)/younger man (ym) phenomenon have turned up some interesting data. Despite the proclivity of women to decry their aging bodies, it is widely reported that “ym “find “ow” to be sexy for reasons that have nothing to do with wrinkles and age spots.

“Ow” usually know who they are. They are able to ask for what they want. They do not tend to indulge in game-playing. Cougars are, as a rule, sexually experienced and can teach “ym “a thing or two about how to please a woman.

For “ym “who have no need to come to a damsel’s rescue on a white horse, ow are a treat. “Ow” are not asking to be saved. More often than not, “ow” have established a career and have learned the value of their independence.

In terms of intimacy,” ym" have greater sexual stamina. When the “ow” provides the experience and confidence in the relationship, chances are the sensual connection is likely to be gratifying for both parties.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD. maintains that romantic love is by far more intense than sexual love. She points out that when love of the romantic sort comes to an end, the individual left behind may sink into a clinical (hopefully temporary) depression. This is not likely to occur when a sex partner moves on.

Romantic love is a part of who we are. It is part of our survival system. The region of the brain which allows us to love lies right next to the centers for hunger and thirst. There is an almost universal craving for love, which activates the brain’s production of dopamine. Dopamine is at the center of the brain’s reward system. There’s not a whole lot that feels better than falling and being in love.

If Dr. Fisher’s theories are true, then age has little to do with who attracts us in an amorous way. It’s not about perfect bodies and well-balanced features, it is, after all, that indefinable thing that we refer to as chemistry.

When an “ow” dates someone her own age or older, chances are that some kind of power struggle will pop up. She has a successful career. He does, as well. Given a society in which the male automatically takes the lead, there just may be a conflict of interest. Both of these people are accustomed to making their own decisions. If one appears to patronize the other, an uncomfortable tug of war could erupt.

After all is said and done, a relationship is a relationship is a relationship. Individuals who understand their needs and wants and will not settle for just any relationship have a far better chance of forming a lasting connection (if that is what is desired). Kindness, respect, and empathy serve a relationship well.

Laughter is the great adhesive that gets many a couple through tough times. A shared sense of humor is part of that mysterious “chemistry” that men and women find so alluring. Humor does not depend on age. It has more to do with the way each person looks at the world. More importantly, shared amusement is a sign that two people have a good chance of really understanding each other.
The longing to be really “seen” sits right next to the fear of being really “seen”. The ability to stand back and recognize the absurdity of the issues that couples frequently fight about makes everything easier.

Most of the time who a person is surmounts the number of pages that have been turned on the calendar. And… if “they”(whoever “they” are) want to pass judgment….so what?


Crocker, L. (2017, June 3). "Sexy?In Control?Cougar? Why We Desire and Revile the Older Woman. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from

Gallup, C. (2017, January 31). Why Sleeping With Younger Men is Best -- No Matter How Old You Are. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from

Levine, D. (2014, July 29). Anthropologist and Love Expert Helen Fisher on the Mysteries of Love. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from

Nemko, M., PhD. (2016, June 22). The Case for Men Marrying Older Women. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from psychology

Safronova, V. (2017, May 5). Younger Men, Older Women: A Pairing Becomes More Common. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from

Wings, F., & Winter, S. (2007, May 2). "Men Confess 22 Reasons Why Younger Guys Fall for Older Women. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from

About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

I bring with me +30 years of experience as a clinician. My Masters degrees are from: Assumption College, Worcester, MA, Master of Arts in Psychology & Counseling/ and Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA, an MSW in Clinical Social Work. This is the 11th year I have written a monthly newsletter that is sent to approximately 500 individuals. The archive can be found on my website,

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