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 Young boys are my weakness, I just love their sweetness.

Pretty young thing, what you gonna do?

I just want to get my hands on you.”

 –      Kate Ceberano

 Cougar image 

If you had of told me years ago I would ever dated a much younger guy,I would have laughed so hard I may have snorted champagne through my button nose! I’m so not a prude, and I am hardly the shy retiring type, but I had been in a relationship with the same guy for almost 18 years!

I totally get the concept of the Cougar – older women hooking up with delicious younger men.  While my ex husband, The Taurus was two years younger, I was hardly playing in Cougar territory there!

I think we, the sisterhood, have a lot to thank the media for in terms of women dating younger guys. As soon as A-listers started walking the red carpet with hot younger men, it seemed to legitimize it for the rest of us. I don’t think any of us were surprised that Madonna was hanging out with hot Latino dancers, but the most publicized was Demi Moore, who at 41 started dating Ashton Kutcher, barely 25 at the time! What was the frenzy about?  My theory is this – they fell in love, got married and raised her kids together for six years. It just stopped being about their age. Suddenly it was so “in” to be a Cougar. This previously degrading title was suddenly inspiring high-fives all round amongst women! Courtney Cox, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston…even Kylie Minogue were all snapped with their younger lovelies!

It’s becoming so socially acceptable now that the moniker of Cougar, once applied to women over 45 “hunting” younger partners, is now bestowed on anyone over the age of 35 dating a younger man.  There is even a new breed of women emerging – the ‘Puma’ is the new title for chics in their 30’s who are dating guys in their 20’s! Times, they are a-changin’.

So I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve actually dated two younger guys, both ten years my junior. One started as a safe fling that turned into a romance, and ended up an enduring friendship. He forever changed my life, the divine Italian. The second was a gentle and unusual person I call the Arc Angel.

The Italian was 31 when I met him and I was 41. We met quite by chance when my bestie had taken me out drinking in an effort to cheer me up after my marriage break up. He was young and attractive, with eyes the colour of dark chocolate and a deep melodic voice. Okay, the Italian accent wasn’t half bad either! The initial attraction surprised me but the first time he kissed me I seriously felt like a naive schoolgirl! I was speechless!

What I discovered about him with time was that we shared similar tastes in music, films, food and wine. The reality is though, while I lived through the 1980’s, he was born in 1980…no escaping that fact! Truthfully, geographical location was probably the enemy for us since he was foreign and didn’t have a permanent visa. It certainly wasn’t the age gap. Looking back, if anyone was hung up about the age difference, it was actually me – he didn’t care at all. He’d quite proudly hold my hand, or have his hand on the small of my back everywhere we went. He was never shy about kissing me in public and he was very comfortable introducing me to his friends. I was more reserved, although he did meet work colleagues and some of my friends. The Italian as it turns out was so much more than just some young hottie (though yes, he’s attractive and manly). He was the first man to see me naked beyond my ex…that was a huge leap for me.

I often wonder if the Italian, with his incredibly romantic heart, had stayed here in  Australia would things have turned out differently. I think though, with respect to the Italian that I’ll share his story with you in another blog! It’s a story worthy of telling properly, and I promise, I will.

Quite by accident I discovered that younger guys are far less emotionally inhibited, when I met the ethereal Arc Angel some time after the Italian had returned to Venice. At 32, this delicious Pisces was a gorgeous combination of spirituality and business savvy. I was having dinner with a girlfriend when we met. He was the waiter!  He was sweet and cheeky, and a little dreamy, in that kind of movie icon way.  He kept making subtle eye contact with me and I was, well, more than a little flattered.  My girlfriend was teasing me about his stolen looks in my direction all night. I was freshly single, and hadn’t dated for half my life! I was just a little overwhelmed by that sort of attention. Honestly, I kept looking over my shoulder thinking he must be checking someone else out!

As it turns out, the guy with one blue eye and one green eye – so deliciously Bowie…sigh…and the designer stubble, co-owned the restaurant with his family. Although it was an Italian restaurant, the Arc Angel was actually Lebanese, with flawless fair skin and pale eyes. When dinner was over, I did something I’d never done before. I handed him my number. I was shocked…Hell, my girlfriend was shocked. It just wasn’t something I’d normally do, hand my number to anyone let alone a younger waiter, despite my extraverted nature.  Embarrassingly, I think he might have been the first boy to make me giggle in years. Being single makes you discover new things about yourself all the time!

He called me later the same night, and I was caught so off guard by that! What? No waiting two days to call me? No texting me first? This was a revelation.

What I could never have guessed in a million years, (or in my wildest imagination), was that I would end up having a bit of wild time with the angelic one, which eventually culminated in a pretty erotically charged night in the otherwise empty restaurant. Let’s just say I’ve never looked at stainless steel benches in the same way and thinking about it to this day makes me a little hot under the collar! I remember being horrified that I wasn’t wearing matching lingerie that night, though I don’t think the Angel cared one bit. I learnt a valuable lesson that night, girls! While I was wearing a sexy pair of knickers (not sporting grannie undies like the lovely Bridget Jones, thankfully), I realised that a black thong and red bra wasn’t going to cut it. Who would have thought that could happen…in a restaurant!

My new mantra after that? Thou shalt wear matching lingerie on every date! Dam it! You just never know!

We saw each other often for a few lovely weeks and talked for hours into the wee hours of mornings about spiritual and esoteric matters. While his gentle soul was well, dreamy, his unreliability and flaky nature eventually wore on me and I faded out gracefully.

The thing about younger guys is this – they are less hung up, and less battle-scarred than their older male counterparts. They are adventurous, and more willing to take risks. They are yet to be freaked out about issues of longevity, or former commitments. If they want to call you, they just do. If they feel for you, they express it. Yes, it’s a thrill for them to be with an older chic too, but  eventually the age thing becomes irrelevant. You end up two people rather than two numbers. You end up compatible or you don’t – like any other relationship.

Oh, and any woman who has dated a younger guy (I personally don’t like the ‘toy boy’ moniker, as these are grown men, not play things) will tell you that there is something to be said for their stamina! I mean I’m a naturally energetic person, but being with my much younger Italian was like running a marathon.  No sooner would I be drifting off to sleep, he’d be waking me up to start all over again…and again. Not that I’m complaining! Much more fun than going to the gym, right? It was a nice boost for my ego too!

From a biological point of view, I guess it makes sense. Women in their 40’s are usually in their prime sexually, and guys are in their prime throughout their twenties and early thirties, so the sexual attraction is an obvious one!

So, the big question is how young is too young? I’ve read a mountain of articles about this, and recently I stumbled, happily, across a video blog “Dating with Dignity”, hosted by the lovely Marni Battista, a relationship expert.  (Check out www.datingwithdignity.com).

Her rule of thumb is this – Divide your age in half, and then add 7 years.

That’s apparently the minimum age of guys you should be dating without feeling like a total perv.  If I took the rule literally, I could feasibly be dating a guy aged 28! Now, for me that’s a little too young but I say to you ladies – Judge not lest we be judged! For you, that might be brilliant! I think for me the hesitancy comes from having a child who has hit his 20’s (yes, really!)… If it feels right for you, go for it.

One girlfriend told me the above rule is “total bullshit”.

“It’s all very personal,” she rolled her eyes, “If I like a guy and he’s slightly younger than that formula, I’m not going to knock back a date based on the age on his driver’s licence.

My wonderful girlfriend, the Pocket Rocket, once dated a 21-year-old medical student when she was 42. Having come out of a 23 year marriage, she likened their six month affair to being the most liberating time of her life, and felt like a butterfly emerging from an emotional cocoon. Though she says the relationship was based mainly on sex, what she enjoyed was her Gen-Y lover’s enthusiasm for life, his complete lack of inhibitions, and the absence of any game playing.

“The whole time, looking back,” she gushed, “was so experimental for both of us. It was anytime, anywhere sex. Think toys, food, dress-ups. He was happy to learn, I was happy to teach. It was a lot of fun.”

Eventually she ended the relationship when they started to form serious attachments. Initially she hadn’t worried about the age as she wasn’t looking for anything serious or long term. When things became more serious, she worried about her younger lover’s future, which may have featured marriage and kids.

Another friend in her forties dated and eventually lived with a younger guy in his twenties. Loved up and sexed up, they were a couple. What eventually pushed their relationship to breaking point though was their different cultural backgrounds – he was a Muslim from Pakistan and she was an Australian-European Catholic. The family pressure placed on her younger partner was, in the end, too great. His family couldn’t accept the union and eventually they broke up and he entered into an arranged marriage.

“Looking back, he was the most beautiful person and part of me will always love him,” she recently told me. The only down side to his age, she confessed, was the lack of life experience, though she strongly suspected that came down to a sheltered upbringing, rather than his age.

A guy in his late 20’s or early 30’s doesn’t necessarily have less experience than his older lover by the way. Usually men have slept with a lot more people than women do (I said usually, but not always so!). The Italian had slept with a lot of women, and had a lot of life experience before he met me so it was never an unequal relationship.

The theme that seems to come through from friends, who have shared their stories, is that being with younger men feels quite liberating. For me this was true. Younger guys love the female form and they are open to life, laughter and love. Since they are usually more scared of unplanned pregnancies and STD’s, they are usually much more inclined to don the condom without being asked also (something that is sometimes an issue with guys in their 40’s!).

I’ve become less hung up about the numbers game. Yes, there are always going to be labels placed on women who choose the younger guy, while the younger guy will be getting high-fives and being slapped on the back. That’s life and fifty years of feminism is yet to eradicate idiot ideas! If it’s ok for guys to be dating women much younger, the same rule should apply to us, right?

So what did I learn from dating younger men? A whole lot more than I was expecting really. In the case of the Italian, I learnt that I could feel something for someone else beyond my marriage. He reminded me that I was still a woman, and being with him made me feel sexy again, and desirable. I can’t ever put a price on that! I found out I could actually get butt naked in front of someone outside of married life.  More importantly, I learnt that I was able to laugh again, that I could be a little wild and crazy without judgement and that a younger guy can be every bit as romantic, attentive and loving as a guy in his 40’s, with way less baggage!

If you find yourself in the company of a gorgeous younger guy and you decide to dip your toe in the water, trust yourself and your instincts and enjoy the whole experience. Whether it’s just a right now thing or a happily ever after thing, embrace the guy he really is, and definitely enjoy the stamina fuelled romps! Not that it’s all about the firm, younger body either girls, but that I have to say is a nice fringe benefit. Oh, and if your grandma advised you to wear nice knickers in case you got hit by a bus, dating a hot man is a much better reason!

Purr, baby, purr.

(As a little footnote, having different coloured eyes – one blue, one green, or sometimes brown, is a condition called heterochromia, I found that out from the Arc Angel. I should add that although it reminded me of David Bowie, the singer actually didn’t have the condition. His discoloration occurred after a school fight).