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“A Matter of Age?” Love Relationships Between Older Women and Younger Men: The So-called “Cougar” Phenomenon

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International Handbook of Love

Abstract

While love relationships between older men and younger (adult) women have been well-researched, the equivalent relationship of elder women with younger men has led a shadowy existence in research so far. At the same time, public interest in such relationships is growing, evidenced by interest in celebrity relationships such as those of Demi Moore, the 90 Day Fiancé reality TV star Jenny Slatten and her Indian partner Sumit, or the French President Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, with a corresponding mainstream media. In public discussion, the older women in such relationships are often labelled as “cougars”. The slang term “cougar” is often used to label older females who seek a relationship (or relationships) with younger males (The Oxford British and World English Dictionary, 2012). and the younger men as “toyboys” or “cubs”.

This chapter focuses on the impact that age difference has on relationships, the issues that arise for the partners, and which opinions and prejudices they have to face. In this chapter, relevant current research results are presented and discussed. In particular, possible significant factors such as gender and culture are considered in detail.

Dispositioned Hearts

It has been some time, tonight on the Ninth -Well it has to be because I’ll try to break through To hear the sweet eternal voice I have missed, The other week I was so close, but I just can’t... Hold the tongue, the one once soul-kissed, Between bitten, adored and older lips

The remaining desires of our carcass It always must come, close-down to it, Because those numbers reign in mind Try to reason and again reach, The understanding of the truth But for how long again, will you sustain?

In eyes of my favourite shades, Irises that mirror and drape mine Blind and dilate coyly with flavour Afterwards you whispered the ageless question, “Do you still love me?”, the four lettered Word that is seldom pure, This night let it be, let us speak With dispositioned hearts

Daniel J. Thorssøn

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Sontag, 1972, “The double standard of aging”, Saturday Review, vol. 23, pp. 29–38.

  2. 2.

    In the interest of better clarity and unambiguity, the case studies and corresponding comments as well as quotes from respondents in this chapter are set in italics.

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Acknowledgement

I would like to thank Daniel J. Thorssøn, a poet and artist from the Manawatu, New Zealand, for his generous permission to cite his poem here (Thorssøn, 2016).

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Correspondence to Elisabeth Vanderheiden .

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Vanderheiden, E. (2021). “A Matter of Age?” Love Relationships Between Older Women and Younger Men: The So-called “Cougar” Phenomenon. In: Mayer, CH., Vanderheiden, E. (eds) International Handbook of Love. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45996-3_20

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