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However, what’s actually going on underneath the pop-style commentary and tabloid tales of ‘cougars’ and their ‘cubs’?
In search of clarity, we set out on a mission to look beyond the loaded monikers and dubious hype surrounding older woman/younger man relationships.
The now well-known term wasn’t a reference to the Chinese calendar; rather, it was a bordering-on-crass idiom coined to define 40-plus women with a predilection for younger gentlemen.
“When an older woman looks for a younger partner, she’s probably quite comfortable with her sexuality,” she explains, “it’s likely that she’s already been married or had children.Whilst still packed with hidden meaning, ‘sugar daddy’ isn’t nearly as derogatory as its big-cat counterpart.Instead it’s a jocular reaffirmation of man’s traditional role as father-figure and provider of material wealth (and woman’s role as recipient).The chances are that a younger man hasn’t had the time to accumulate the emotional baggage that comes with growing old either.
In conversation, Ganahl, who’s written extensively on older woman/younger man relationships, proposes an astute plus-side: “Younger men were raised by mothers during or after the women’s movement,” she says, “therefore, many tend to be far less sexist than their fathers, and not as preoccupied with money and status.” A word of warning though: watch out for boastful boys who’re just out to get bragging rights over their mates.Meting out the negatives, Ganahl also urges caution.“Different expectations of relationships can lead to heartache,” she says, “especially if the woman is expecting a traditional commitment when the man aspires to be a player.” Those guys who aren’t in it for the kudos will quickly find out that dating an older woman isn’t a one-sided affair in the slightest.What’s more, the way in which news outlets around the world, included, represented the issue is perhaps more telling of the way older women are perceived by society.