Over 35 and Ready to Date Younger: Are You a Cougar?

Older woman dating a younger man

Are you a cougar? Well, let’s face it; we now live in what seems like an unregulated dating time. Today, (nearly) anything goes since love is love, right? Instead of the usual old-man-younger-woman story that was once prevalent, we see significant age disparities on the opposite end of the spectrum in today’s modern dating pool.

For example, according to research done by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), about 34% of women above the age of 39 date males younger than them – cougar alert!

With the rise of online dating and the changing mindset that there’s nothing wrong with sizable age gaps, more older women are taking the proverbial leap into dating younger. That’s because society is now starting to recognize the value of relationships, regardless of age or duration.

So, if you’re a woman reading this article, you’ll be pleased to learn that there is nothing wrong with dating younger, even if you’re older than 35. Additionally, although the term ‘cougar’ is outdated, it shouldn’t be seen negatively. Should you want to learn more about what a cougar is and what it means to be one when you’re over 35 and ready to date younger, continue reading.

Are You a Cougar?

While some ladies self-identify as cougars, most older women who are dating younger are commonly assigned the title. So, what does it imply, and is it disparaging? Simply put, a cougar is a term given to an older woman who desires a relationship or sexual activity with a man who is considerably younger than she is.

Generally, a cougar refers to women older than 35 dating men between 10 and 20 years younger than them. So if you’re older than 35 and there isn’t at least a ten-year age difference between you and your partner, it’s unlikely you’re a cougar.

Although the phrase’s roots are unknown, it is believed to have originated in Canada. Later, the dating service cougardate.com, which specializes in “casual dating for toyboys and cougars,” popularized the phrase.

The term itself isn’t negative, but unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some people from using it as a slur – especially if the woman is more than 25 years older than the man she is dating.

Some people find the phrase offensive, sexist, or disrespectful, so you must decide if you want to be called a cougar by your family, boyfriend, or friend group.

Fortunately, as the term ‘cougar’ has become more prevalent in our culture, its negative connotation has diminished. Many women now assert that it may be liberating.

When Is a Woman Called a Cougar, and What Is a Puma?

Besides age, when is a woman called a cougar? The definition of a “cougar” varies widely among people. We briefly touched on when a woman is typically called a cougar, but we want to elaborate further.

Some people use the term ‘cougar’ to describe women who seek out relationships with men at least eight years their junior. In contrast, some claim that the word only applies to ladies over 50 looking for males in their twenties and thirties. But where do ‘pumas’ fit into this discussion?

It is generally acknowledged that cougars and pumas are not the same. Yes, you read that right; society refers to some women as ‘pumas’ because of their dating preferences.

Typically, women who are not quite old enough to be referred to as cougars but who like to date men much younger than them are called pumas.

So if you’re 35, you’ve assuredly entered your cougar dating era when seeking out partners much younger than you.

The Dating Age Rule Explained

Are you a cougar looking for love? You should educate yourself on the ‘dating age rule. This rule is used by older women and men who want to date younger but still want to be socially acceptable. Luckily, this rule is relatively easy to understand. You don’t need to be a math genius to wrap your head around it.

To determine a partner’s minimum age that’s not going to get you frowned upon, take your age, divide by two, and add seven. For example: (35/2 = 17.5 + 7 = 24.5) or (39/2 = 19.5 + 7 = 26.5). This means that if you are 35, it’s socially acceptable to date someone no younger than 24, and if you’re 39, no younger than 26.

However, you shouldn’t live your life according to what society dictates. No rule says you can’t be a cougar who dates younger than what this calculation determines.

Dating as a Cougar: Does an Age Gap Matter When Dating?

In a relationship, to what extent does the age difference really matter? Consider the following before moving too quickly if you’ve found somebody you wish to spend time with who is considerably younger than you are:

Mental Fortitude

When you decide to date a younger man, you need to practice mental fortitude because, without it, you will be blindsided by people’s opinions. After all, research shows that couples with significant age gaps frequently experience heavy bias from onlookers, so be ready for disapproving glances.

When practicing mental fortitude, you must remember that the two of you are ultimately the only ones that matter, so disregard the unnecessary opinions of others.

Your private lives are just that: private. Your relationship’s success depends on how you both overcome these challenges. because others might find your age gap with your partner unsavory.

Ex-partners and Kids

Children and former partners may also impact the dynamics of your age-gap romance. Exes might assume that dating a younger person will only be a passing fling, and they could lash out at you – especially if children are involved. Additionally, be aware that your kids can feel insecure and resentful of you if you date an individual close in age to them.

In this circumstance, it’s crucial to handle your relationship and your former partner and children differently. For example, you will need to set clear boundaries and ensure that your ex and children know their place in your life.

Your ex should understand that they don’t have much say in your life unless there are concerns surrounding your children’s safety. Likewise, your children should know that you love them, but they don’t have a say in who you date just because of an age difference.

However, you should ensure that you’re open to addressing your relationship with those you love, and you need to try and keep an open mind. After all, it might take time for them to warm up to the idea, but eventually, they’ll come around when they see you’re happy.

Over 35 and Dating Younger: Tips for Cougars

Now that you know what a cougar is and what to remember about dating a younger man, it’s time to give you a few tips. Below we have searched high and low to find some of the best advice for cougars who want a serious relationship with a younger man who is worth their time.

1. Learn to Love Yourself as You Are

Before loving someone else, one must first love oneself. Many women in the 35 age group are unsatisfied with their appearance even though it’s natural to get older.

Yet this is normal behavior, especially considering that your eyes were accustomed to looking at soft, flawless skin up to this point in your life. So, when you spot the first sign of wrinkles and the other symptoms associated with aging, it can often be a shock.

When you add dating someone younger to the equation, you can quickly start hating your appearance and how different you are from them.

Thus if you’re going to be a cougar, you need to learn to love yourself as you are and accept that you likely don’t look as young as the younger man you’re dating. If you can do this, you’re far more likely to enjoy a successful relationship.

2. Try Your Hand at Online Dating

For those over 35, online dating is the ideal way to enjoy the cougar dating experience. Dating websites offer a diversity you can’t find in everyday life because it lets you look for your soul mate locally and internationally, and you can filter by age!

Additionally, online dating allows you to overcome your uneasiness and build a rapport with a younger man before you meet him in person for the first time. If you decide that dating online is a grand idea, here are some pointers:

Give Your Profile Some Thought

Your profile is the most important part of online dating because it’s the first thing prospective partners will see. That’s why you must pick appealing images that accurately depict your identity. It might be tempting to post photos of you in your 20s but don’t do it because if you do, your dates might view you as a catfish (the horror).

So if you still need to take current photos, be sure that you do and don’t upload blurry photos either if you don’t want to be ‘skipped.’

Besides photos, you must remember to complete the profile and add as much information as possible, including your age.

Choose a Dating Site for Cougars

You might not know this, but there are dating websites and apps that specifically cater to cougars, like Ashley Madison and Cougar Life. If you choose one of these sites, you know that the dating pool is full of cougars looking for love.

Ultimately, you won’t be beating around the bush when getting to know someone as they will have signed up looking to date a cougar.

Follow through with in Person Dates

Online dating is a fantastic way to meet new people interested in dating a cougar. Yet, there’s no point if you don’t follow through and meet up in person with your matches. If you want to show the younger men (or women) that you’re looking for something serious, it’s crucial to initiate a few dates.

However, remember to be safe and always meet somewhere public where you’re comfortable, as you don’t want to start your cougar dating journey on the wrong foot.

3. It’s Actually What’s on the inside That Matters Most

Most of us were educated from a young age to focus more on a person’s character than their outward appearance. Unfortunately, even as adults, we must remind ourselves of this notion. If you want a younger man to get to know you, it’s best not to focus solely on their appearance.

After all, you don’t want them to only want you for how you look. Or you might be insecure about your looks, and so could they, so it’s best not to overthink the appearance aspect when dating. However, this doesn’t mean we’re saying you should disregard attraction. You’ll likely find it difficult to make a relationship work without physical attraction.

So that’s why you need to focus on other qualities when seeking a partner. For example, do you want someone who is as free-spirited as you are, or should they be hardworking, family-oriented, or both? Successful and enjoyable relationships are built on compatible personalities and not just physical attraction, so keep this in mind.

4. Don’t Write the Younger Generation off Just Yet

Women usually have preconceptions regarding how old their partners can be. Unfortunately, this can make life as a cougar impossible if you’re constantly disregarding those of a younger generation.

After all, many young adults are super ambitious and can even educate you on things and help you adjust to a rapidly changing world. So before you reject someone in their early 20s, try to get to know them and determine if their agenda, life goals, and personality traits align with yours.

5. Be Prepared for a Lengthy Search

No one said dating as a cougar is a cakewalk.

  • You could find it challenging to find a younger man serious about building a life with you. Many younger men, unfortunately, lust after the appeal of dating a cougar but don’t want to commit for the long term.
  • You have likely found who you are and what you want to do in life. They’re probably still figuring it out. Being at such different points in your respective lives could make it tough to get on the same page.
  • You might encounter younger men wanting to date cougars for your money and lifestyle. Guys can be gold diggers too!

What Are 6 Considerations When Choosing to Date Younger?

In addition to the above tips, we’d like to give you a few things to consider. Keep the following in mind if you want your relationship to last.

1. Your Dynamic May Be Different from the Norm

Older women often value having more life experience regarding relationships. This experience advantage makes some women feel powerful, which could affect the relationship dynamic.

For example, depending on the man, he might prefer being the primary breadwinner and struggle to accept being the less successful partner. It’s best not to try and fit your relationship into a box and acknowledge that you might not have the same relationship as friends and family.

2. Your Opinions on Commitment Might Vary

Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems with cougar relationships is commitment. For many women over 35, dating younger men can be more challenging because it’s harder to have a long-lasting, committed relationship with a man your junior.

Younger men may prefer to keep messing about, partake in open relationships, and be uninterested in commitment. In contrast, older men are likelier to want to have kids and settle down.

When dating someone younger, you need to keep this in mind so that you don’t get your heart broken by a man who isn’t looking to settle down or stay faithful.

Therefore, it’s crucial to be honest and discuss your relationship goals if you intend to pursue him. Having a man younger than you by your side can be the best choice you ever make if you’re both on the same page.

3. Typically, Younger Men Are More Adventurousy

If you’re seeking a little more excitement and somebody who can completely change your outlook on life, then a younger man may be for you. This is because younger men are far more interested in living adventurously. Some women can find dating within their age group boring, so if you’re after spontaneity and adventure, why not try out the cougar lifestyle?

Additionally, the events you enjoy with younger mates will probably be more spontaneous and creative than what you’re accustomed to, so you’ll make many more exciting memories.

For example, his notion of the ideal date might entail rock climbing, skydiving, or even snowboarding. At the same time, yours might involve coffee dates, getting together for a martini, or attending a poetry reading. You can meld these different interests and create thrilling dates, allowing for a relationship where there is never a dull moment.

4. Younger Men May Have a Shorter Dating History

As opposed to an older man, you’ll undoubtedly notice that he carries less baggage because he has had fewer meaningful relationships. 

A man your junior probably won’t have the same personal problems as an older man, who might be divorced, have kids, or possess a lengthy list of failed relationships.

This means you will have to spend less time navigating this baggage and more time having fun and getting to know a younger partner. It also means you’ll likely not be adding additional stressors to your life which is always a positive.

5. You Might Face Resistance from Relatives and Friends

Unfortunately, your friends and relatives could react negatively to you being a cougar and dating men significantly younger than you. Even if you two are clearly in love, other people may not be as accepting and understanding, and this could create problems in your daily life.

If you anticipate this unpleasant response, you’ll be more prepared to deal with it and get through it as it manifests. Plus, enduring the disapproval of friends and family can help you grow closer and form an unbreakable connection.

6. Their Priorities Might Frequently Diverge

In most instances, the priorities of a younger man are different from an older man. For example, a young man might be putting in extra time at work or in graduate school because he is trying to establish his professional reputation. On the other hand, older men are often more accomplished and established, with more freedom to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The life of a cougar may not be your best option if you need an established man who already has everything figured out. Of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t established young men – it’s just much more difficult to find one.

Therefore, accepting that you and your younger partner are in different phases of life, and thus the relationship might not work, is essential. So be sure to communicate to determine where their head is and where they see your arrangement going before you waste time and energy on them.


Partnerships between individuals of different ages are becoming increasingly common. But, there will always be individuals who do a double take upon seeing your new partner twice — relatives who raise their eyebrows without saying anything at dinner.

But even if you encounter pushback when deciding to be a cougar, you must remember that you have the final say in who you date. If you keep everything we’ve covered today in mind, from our tips to considerations, you’re likely to find success dating as a cougar — from now until you find your youthful soulmate.

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