May 25, 2011
Issue: 12.05
In Praise of Younger Men

There is a great deal of fascination with “cougars,” women who go after younger men. I am not one of those women. However, I have become an accidental cougar. It seems that, each time that I am on JDate for more than a few minutes, some cute guy, generally between the ages of 26 and 32, I.M.'s me. (Let’s just say that my preferred age range is 45 to 60). And they all say the same thing—that they just adore older women and then give the same reasons.

Perhaps it’s the media’s portrayal of such women as Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, and Helen Mirren, but these young guys think that we “older” women are elegant, sexy (“hot”), interesting and, in particular, straightforward (“no game playing”), much more so than women their age. One even said that we have cuter tushes! Who am I to argue?

They all make the point that “age is just a number” and that they have dated and been in relationships with women in their 40s and 50s. Despite what I might think about their intentions, these men aren’t kidding around. They are disappointed when older women don’t take them seriously. Well, whatever their intentions, there’s a lot to be said for these younger guys, and we all could learn from their example.

By virtue of their youth, they’re absolutely adorable. Okay, well, maybe my generation is too old to be considered “adorable,” but to paraphrase my grandmother, “adorable is as adorable does.” And there’s a lot about these men that makes them so.

First, they are sweet. They easily express their attraction to and compliment me, and their sincerity comes through. Their flirting is generally “G” to perhaps “PG,” at most, and they seem to know how to “pace” themselves. All this makes me feel quite comfortable with them.

Second, they’re chivalrous and romantic. On their profiles, they talk about letting the “girl” (I love to be thought of as a “girl”) pick what she wants to do for a first date, but if it were up to them, they’d choose dinner at a nice restaurant, followed by some ice cream (how old fashioned!) and perhaps a walk on the beach. No “coffee dates” for them. They assume that I am worth the time and effort to take me out on a “nice date.”

Third, they are emotionally open. They haven’t really been hurt yet and haven’t amassed emotional baggage. (Yes, I know that, if by our age, we don’t have baggage, it means that we haven’t taken any risks. But we also have the responsibility to “get over ourselves.”) They talk about taking the time to get to know each other and then, if we get along, having it develop into something more.

Fourth, they’re humble. Many of these men are quite accomplished for their age but do not feel the need to draw attention to their achievements. They focus more on who they are as a person rather than relying on their career accomplishments to impress me. Instead, they express admiration of my accomplishments.

Fifth, they don’t beat around the bush. They don’t endlessly chat or e-mail with me. Rather, they ask to get together with me after we’ve exchanged sufficient information to determine mutual interest. I’m never left with the feeling of “what was that about?” or “will I hear from him again?”

Sixth, and most importantly, they have good values. Of course, everyone wants to be with someone who is attractive. But these young guys don’t focus on a woman being “beautiful and slim.” Instead, on their JDate profiles, they write, “Looks aren’t that big of a deal for me, but you must have a great smile” or “I’m looking to meet a funny, nice, intelligent Jewish girl.”

I am not necessarily recommending that women date men that much younger than we are. (However, if we did, who could blame us? Men have been doing this for all of recorded history.) Rather, I am saying that these young and supposedly inexperienced men have the right idea about dating and relationships and that, if we recaptured our own “adorable” qualities, we might have a better shot at finding true love.

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