By GEMMA WOLK
When it comes to finding a partner in the animal kingdom, all complications aside, appearance and status are what matters. Age is a factor far from relevant, seemingly only important to mankind.
The word Cougar conjures up wild predatory images of fangs and talons. Today however, a certain breed of female has dared to bear this label. They’ve always existed, but with evolving societal attitudes they are emerging brazen, over 40 and on the hunt for younger men.
It’s Friday night; date night in Sydney. The city is buzzing with the hum of excited conversation. Sparks of electricity fly between unfamiliar couples, as they warily test one another for the features of a potential mate.
In an underground bar nearby, dim lighting illuminates a hazy room blanketed with lust, containing the bodies of countless singles. The eagerness and nerves reek from those present whilst the smell of alcohol and cheap perfume lingers.
Tables and chairs litter the room as one by one people begin to take their seats for their dates to begin.
This is dating of a different kind; a welcomed substitute for those sick of meeting the wrong people. Here, everyone knows what to expect, and rather than human nature, it is a small alarm that is in control of the rendezvous’.
Speed dating has provided a popular alternative to meeting people since the late 90’s, but recently, new twists have taken it from ordinary to extraordinary.
The Cougar and Cub Encounter hosted by Need 4 Speed Dating Service in Sydney provides a cutting edge experience. Those involved in this new fad can only be older women on the prowl for younger men who in turn, are looking for experienced ladies.
Valerie Gibson, self confessed Cougar and author of best-selling book ‘Cougar, a guide for older women dating younger men’ is a firm believer that this kind of ‘alternative interaction’ does wonders for older women’s’ self esteem.
“Any fun event that promotes older women meeting younger men and vice versa is of progress and benefit. After all, there are plenty of gay events, why not cougar events?”, she said
Valerie Gibson is a refreshingly unconventional female who prioritises fun and takes great pride in her Cougar title. She admits to having countless Cougar relationships, insisting her youthful looks and lust for life are to blame.
“I have always attracted younger men as I look younger, have tons of energy and they sense I am fun to be with”, she gushes.
For Valerie, the baggage and monotony of men her age became unappealing a long time ago. Having previously been married to a man 14 years her junior, she swears by younger partners to keep a woman mentally and physically fit.
“They’re optimistic and they’re enthusiastic about everything. They’re usually in good shape, fun to be with and fascinating as they know so many new things about contemporary life. It makes you feel youthful and alive, sexy and desirable, and it’s great to have hot sex as well”, she explains.
According to John Aiken Psychologist and Relationship Expert, Cougarism is a positive step toward modern day dating. He acknowledges that if both partners are at the same place mentally, there can be many benefits.
“Younger guys are going to have an excitement element to them; maybe a fresh approach or not so much baggage. They can also give the Cougar a way into a younger type of life through their friends or activities or interests”, he said.
But the benefits aren’t only for the women involved. The men can also profit greatly from the Cougar Encounter. Today, the emphasis no longer remains purely on the woman to find a youthful man. The younger men are beginning to lead the trend Valerie Gibson expresses.
“They’re called cougar hunters or hawks, have their own websites and pursue the older women, not the other way around”, she explains.
John Aiken provides some insight as to why the tables may slowly be turning.
“They are getting an experienced woman, and so may be able to get more of their sexual needs met by someone more comfortable. Young men can also be introduced into an older world of money, security and life experience”
“A motherly void could also be a component. Some might be getting the guidance, nurturing and direction that they like in a mother”
However, John is not so naive as to pretend these relationships are all rosy.
“Like any relationship, you’re going to have difficulties if you’re not on the same page. If the boy is after commitment and the woman isn’t at the same place, or there is too great a gap in experience that they don’t feel comfortable, things may start to go downhill”, he said.
Through such advances as Cougar speed dating, Australia is beginning to join the world in embracing this feministic ideal. And why shouldn’t they? For years men have been praised for dating women years their junior, so why should women be ashamed of the same behaviour?
“Today’s older women are confident, youthful, desirable, fit, healthy, smart, independent and sexy and for sure aren’t going to be pushed aside or condemned for doing what men have been doing for centuries”, Valerie emphasizes.
It is Cougars like Valerie Gibson who are assisting in the endeavour for an equal future. By casting aside predetermined ideals and embracing a world where the older woman is queen of the dating jungle, a ‘Purr-fect’ world is in reach.
The bottom line is: “Age means very little- It is how you live your life that matters”.
Valerie, along with her fellow Cougars, is a firm believer that it’s time the Cougars got the cream.