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It’s just their energy, their enthusiasm” and—the biggie—“less baggage.” In fact, the stuff of the past may be what keeps her from dating men closer to her age altogether. “They’re always going on and on about their exes and the kids,” she said of her male peers. And being stuck in the music they listened to in college. 1 complaint from both single men and single women—42 percent and 35 percent, respectively—dating in their 50s was the history a partner of the same age carried into a relationship.
Men, of course, have their reasons for dating older women, too.
Wheeler, a fiery redhead who lives outside Baltimore, leaned back in her chair and sighed. “I liked younger guys even when I was in high school — like a year or two younger.
I was a cougar before there were cougars.” Indeed, Wheeler’s pre-marriage and post-divorce dating history reads like a steamy screenplay.
She listed a string of young men with whom she had various relationships, occasionally punching numbers into a calculator to determine age differences she had never considered in the first place.
She never analyzed her attraction to younger men (or their attraction to her), but with “cougar” an increasingly popular term used to describe older women dating much younger men, her longtime preference is suddenly in the spotlight.
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*Editor’s note: Names of some of the interviewees have been changed for privacy.
“They’re looking for companionship, sexual contact, and someone good to talk to and spend time with.All scientific notions aside, older women opt for younger men for the same reasons that older men select younger women.“The mentality of having a youthful person on your arm who makes you feel good, who makes you feel ageless, makes you feel desired and desirable,” Gibson said.Statistics compiled by AARP The Magazine back up the trend.A whopping 34 percent of women over 40 are dating younger men, according to a 2003 survey.
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The same poll, which surveyed 3,500 single people (both women and men) aged 40 to 69 years old, found that 56 percent are currently separated or divorced from a spouse, 31 percent have never been married, and seven in 10 (74 percent) of formerly married singles in their 50s have been single for five years or more.