Have you heard about the new dating trend? Younger men and older women are hooking up. The women are called “Cougars” although someone told me that situation used to be called “Tadpole Fishing.” As someone who is Unmistakably Older and therefore potentially a candidate for one of these younger men, I decided the topic merited some thought. After all, if the opportunity presents itself, I don’t want to stammer around, unsure of what I want to say.
To begin with, I think it is important to understand the motivation of the individual young man who comes calling. Some are probably looking for a mother. If that is the situation, then one needs to take seriously whether teaching another male how to pick up their dirty socks, put the toilet seat down when finished, and wipe their feet before coming inside is really worth whatever benefits may come from the relationship. Some of my friends say they are up for this challenge, but most of us have raised enough children and husbands to satisfy that need.
While motivation isn’t always easy to detect, I’ve discovered it becomes clearer if I utilize minimal conversation and maximum observation. An example would be “Please be sure and put the toilet seat down so I don’t fall-in some dark night and break my hip.” That should be said only once, after which you observe to see if A) he listens and B) he remembers. Listening and remembering are key motivation ingredients and a clear pattern seldom develops before a month. If, after watching for that amount of time you see that he has flunked, you are right in the middle of the “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times” syndrome, which we all recognize as mothering. The only remaining question at that point is “How do you feel about a broken hip?”
It’s also important to discover if he likes to cook. Some women I’ve talked with are delighted to find a new partner who is kitchen adverse or even incompetent, because they now have someone to cook for. I, on the other hand, believe that the good Lord assigns to every woman at birth a maximum number of dinners they must prepare for others, and I reached my quota several years ago. Oh sure, I enjoy the occasional dinner party or holiday festivities, but a hungry, helpless person sitting nightly at my kitchen table would not only starve, but would definitely get on my nerves.
Then there is the issue of whose friends the two of you hang out with. If yours, there is the definite advantage that many of your cohorts will become inhibited and stop talking about their colons and gall bladders. That alone may make everything worthwhile.
On the other hand, if you hang out with his friends, interesting as they may be, there is the difference in energy level that comes with age. Now certainly the initial flush of a new relationship allows one to experience an amazing surge of energy, but trust me, it doesn’t last. When that surge has passed, you are faced with the fact that your partner may like to dance or drink or party half the night, while you are yawning and nodding off, wishing for a soft bed. Compromise here is difficult. Clearly it would be embarrassing to show up in pajamas and cold cream.
In-laws are also a factor to consider. Things can get sticky when your new partner is younger than your youngest child, and your new mother-in-law doesn’t yet need to color her hair. Those extended-family get-togethers may begin to take on the characteristics of an evening from Comedy Central.
On the other hand, there is the issue of sex. A new, younger partner is often very sexy, and given the fact that males peak earlier than females, that can be a real recommendation.
This whole idea of the older woman and the younger man is a relatively new phenomenon in our society, although we’ve always seen the reverse where older men seek out younger women. That’s not called being a cougar or tadpoling however. My friend Gladys, whose husband Ted divorced her for his young secretary, told me the term that’s used to describe this behavior in men is “Old Fool.” I don’t know if she’s right or not.