The Psychology Behind the Cougar Dating Phenomenon


There are obvious questions and typical myths surrounding the older woman/younger man dating phenomenon. Here is a partial list:

Q: Isn’t this just about sex? And don’t Cougars just want a young man for fun and games?

No! Many people think of Stiffler’s mom in American Pie or Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate and assume that Cougars are aging, desperate women willing to jump on any younger man with a pulse. There is so much more to this dating dynamic than people realize. It is not just about sex, and yes I know many May/December couples who are very happily married. Cougar women are actually much more selective about their younger man and this means that the younger men have to have more to bring to the party than just a raging libido. The younger men are driving this trend. There are more younger men looking for older women than there are older women looking for younger men. So, it’s ladies’ choice.

Q: Is Cougar dating here to stay?

Yes. It has always existed and is very popular in Europe. In the United States, 30% of older women date younger men. The BBC say that 25% of older women are married to younger men. From a physiological perspective, it makes sense that an older woman would prefer a younger male. From a psychological imprinting perspective, I have interviewed thousands of men who have specific defining moments in their lives when they knew they were attracted to older women and preferred them over women their own age.

Q: Why don’t these younger men go after women their own age?

The younger men tell me that women their age are boring, manipulative, game playing, self centered, and shallow. They are attracted to the depth, maturity and spirit of the older woman.

Q: What happens when the men reach age 35 and their Cougar is 50 or 60 or older? Don’t the younger men leave?

20 years of psychological research specific to psychosexual imprinting focuses on how younger men are imprinted to the older woman. An imprint is a very powerful psychological phenomenon that is a lifetime bond. Their baby sitter, school teacher, mom’s best friend, actresses and other older women caused an imprint formation that instantly bonded them to an attraction toward older women. Even as these men get older themselves, they continue to seek out women older than themselves. For that reason, men in their 40’s and older consider themselves Cubs and refuse to date women their age or younger. This explains why a man in his late 30’s can marry a woman 20 years his senior and once single again, desire to seek out, date and marry another older woman. Not all Cubs are men in their 20’s, and as I always say to my members: ‘There is a lid for every pot.’

Q: So, there is more to this Cougar dating trend than what the general public knows?

The media and pop culture ‘experts’ have jumped on a bandwagon they really know very little about this dynamic. They want to narrowly define this demographic of people and capitalize and sensationalize it for profit, notoriety and to sell their “self published” books. The people I have interviewed who have many years of living this lifestyle object to this bias by non credentialed people who offer a superficial overview of their otherwise very intricate lives. I do my best to set the record straight.


Source by Dr. Fayr Barkley, Ph.D.

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