HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsCougar phenomenon taking root in Zim

Cougar phenomenon taking root in Zim


Call them all the funny names on earth, but the fact remains that older women are dating younger men.

Gone are the days when women who had reached 40 and above were described as too old to date because more and more young persons are seeking comfort in older women’s arms.

One may argue that these young men are out to milk these women of their hard-earned income, but the few men I spoke to during the week seemed indifferent to the age difference.

But they admitted that society generally does not condone such relationships.

At a workshop which I attended in Kadoma recently, a colleague told me that he had sired a child with a woman who was then 37 years old and he was only 23.

“The woman is now 60 and I am 46 but frankly speaking I never felt the age difference. She was a loving woman and I still care about her even though she remained overseas. Age is but a number and really what is it that you are looking for in a relationship?”

Hollywood stars are well-known for marrying younger men, a situation that has resulted in these women being called either cougars or pumas.

A cougar is an older woman who is primarily attracted to and has sex with significantly younger men.

A puma is a woman in her 30s who is dating or having sexual relations with men that are younger than her.

The most commonly-accepted definition of a cougar is a woman 40 years of age or older who exclusively pursues very young men who are more often than not, old enough to be their sons.

Therefore, cougars that are more than 40 years old would be attracted to men in their 20s and cougars age 50 and above would pursue men in their 30s and above.

Some cougars are less interested in a relationship than a sexual conquest, perhaps enjoying the fact that they are physically appealing to men who are considered to be in the prime of their virility.

A cougar may be married or unmarried, and some even go after their daughters’ boyfriends or neighbours’ sons.

The cougar phenomenon has no doubt become the trend of today.

However, society’s expectation stipulates that the male must be older than the women.

That being said, some people are amazed by the phenomenon of older women dating younger men.

Madonna (51) is one of the many Hollywood cougars who are in love with very young men.

Her boyfriend Jesus Luz is 29 years younger than Madonna. He is only 22.

Recently a friend chatted with me on Internet and said she had found herself a 29-year-old lover. She is 53.

“He has just rejuvenated me. I drive to his flat thrice a week and engage in some steamy sessions. My husband retired from intimacy three years ago and we live as though we were siblings. He doesn’t appreciate me anymore.”

Who are we to say this is wrong? Culture is dynamic and can change can’t it?

“I don’t care what people will say or think about this relationship. Who doesn’t want sex? There is so much hypocrisy about sex and age but the truth is that we all need it and we have to pursue or hunt the men down,” she said.

Former Midlands State University student Taka broke up with his then teen girlfriend after he found himself in the comfort of a woman who is old enough to be his mother.

“The young man hotly pursued me and I at one stage believed he was perhaps after my little income but he insisted, saying he was well-to-do and received all he wanted from his uncle who was a rich man. In fact I had wanted to take him for counselling.

“I however realised as I got to know him more that he had lacked motherly love and care when his mother remarried after his dad’s passing and I suspected that he saw a mother figure in me.”

This young man has since married a woman from his age group but insists he still loves this cougar.

“He says he married a woman of his age group just to please his family but it is I that he desires and he is always at my home pampering me with all sorts of gifts, driving me to holidays and last year we went to France on tour. It was lovely but I wouldn’t want to break up his marriage.”

A male journalist agreed that there were women out there that were eyeing younger men, adding that he had been particularly targeted by at least two widows.

“These women have made advances by inviting me to their homes and the last time I visited the other one, she came into the lounge dressed in a see-through dress. Although I never indulged in sex with either, I made the decision to keep away because I saw the dangers of falling for them. I know of friends in relationships with elderly women who are now stuck. This is real life and it is happening big time.”

I took a walk around the city centre speaking to young men about their views about cougars and pumas and most of them actually admitted having a crush on these women.

“The older women know what they want. They are smart and independent. These women are very clean . . . but girls of our ages are smelly and need a lot of grooming.

“The only problem is that our parents would not accept such a daughter-in-law and yet older men who take on virgins are generally accepted and I think that is unfair,” said 30-year-old Ndinemwi Chandavengerwa of Glen Forrest.

Pearson Mhurudzekunze and Kennedy Ganda, both of Harare, said older women preferred younger men because they wanted to be in control of the relationship.

“Women are becoming more and more independent than ever before hence are now more at liberty to make their own choices. That is what we call women empowerment,” said Mhurudzekunze.

Some may argue that people in love should share maturity levels but maturity is something not defined by age. This is all in the name of love for self and for the other.

55-year-old Sandra Milanzi says she fell in love with a man 20 years her junior, a relationship that started as a friendship. The relationship has since grown into a solid union.

“It is not fair to judge others for what they feel and I too should not be judged. I have had men as young as 29 approach me expressing their love for me. Love knows neither age nor race. Matters of the heart are very complex but for as long as the couple is happy, that is what should matter in these cases.”

According to Helen Fisher, Ph.D., of the Centre for Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers University, today’s woman has the benefit of life experience, education and sophistication, three traits younger men admire.
“Nowadays, women are more financially successful than ever, and this shift has changed what many men desire in a partner,” she says.

“Guys are often attracted primarily to a woman’s independence, direction in life, and job success. There also may be less pressure for them to prove themselves financially, because pumas tend to be more understanding if younger guys lack ambition or success.”

Research by Sandra L Caron, Ph.D., a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine in Farmington, revealed that today’s men are more “emotionally aroused,” focusing less on how a woman looks and more on her independence.

“Appearance will always play a major role in physical attraction, but being with a woman who has confidence is more appealing for some young men than her having super tight abs. And if you’ve got both, all the better,” she says.

Some of Hollywood’s cougars include Mariah Carey, Halle Berry, Demi Moore, Eva Langoria, Courtney Cox and Sandra Bullock.

There are a lot more famous cougar Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Janice Dickinson, Raquel Welch, Joan Collins, and Liza Minelli, to name a few.

New York Times recently reported that Google has deemed cougar dating sites as “non-family-safe” and therefore its ads for such sites containing the word “cougar” will not be allowed on so-called content pages.

But what matters at the end of the day is the personal relationship between the cougar and the young man.

I think there is no need to question if they love each but the only problem would perhaps be our society that may heckle and make fun of the couple.

Feedback: ropafadzom@newsday.co.zw

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading