After a year of dating, Max asked Pam what she’d like to do to celebrate her 40th birthday. “Oh,” she exclaimed, “I’d just love to see the Donna Summers concert at Casino Rama.” “Donna who” he asked. “Donna Summers,” she repeated, “I know she hasn’t performed in a while, but how could you forget such a star.” And then she remembered. Max would likely still have been in diapers while she was smoking behind her parents backs and gyrating to the disco beat of Bad Girls in the mid ’70’s.
Pam admits that not growing up in the same era does create some difficulties when relating to one another, especially in regards to culture and historical events. However, she says that this, in itself, does not compromise their relationship enough to end it right now. In fact, she says that their similarities as people and the way that he treats her mean more than the differences they experience as a result of their age gap. She insists her main attraction to him is not because he fifteen years younger than her. However, dig a little deeper and there does appear to be something alluring to many older women when it comes to dating a younger man. Pam admits that “it makes you feel good about yourself that you can attract someone younger. A man around my age would likely be balding and starting to have wrinkles. It’s hard,” she says, “to go back to an ‘older’ man once you’ve dated someone younger. I also like that Max, unlike other same aged men that I’ve dated, has more energy at the end of the day. And,” she adds, “I can’t deny that sex is different with a younger man. I feel like we’re both in our prime.”
In fact, cougars (the name given to older women dating younger men) are quite in vogue today. You need only to recall two currently popular television commercials. You know the one that features the more mature woman sharing a soft drink with a younger man who later says he has to leave or “be late for class.” However, before leaving, the couple is joined by the woman’s two friends who happen to be passing by the restaurant’s glass window and who drop in to salivate over their friend’s catch!! They are obviously impressed but their friend seems reticent to comment. The commercial ends with a line something to the effect of some things you justify, others you don’t. The other commercial, you may recall, takes place in the freezer section of the supermarket alongside a well known frozen pizza section. The mature woman looks up to see the familiar face of an attractive younger man and enquires coyly about having met him before. He reminds her that he used to be her delivery man for her previously preferred pizza. The implication being that if she hadn’t switched to this new frozen pizza, that there might be a greater chance of connecting again. Both woman are well groomed and like Pam, may prefer not to admit that they are getting older. So, although many may receive admiring looks from their envious friends or comments such as “good for you girl, you still got what it takes,” I have to wonder if dating a man so much younger has more to do with image than what makes practical sense.
Older women will admit, for example, that dating a man much younger than themselves is awkward when it comes to being introduced to his family. Max, for example, has never introduced Pam to his. He admits to being afraid of their reaction, especially because his mother, only three years older than Pam, would have a hard time with a 40 year old daughter-in-law. Most woman, aged 40 and up, have either already had children, do not want children or may not want more children. Sooner or later, for most younger men (and their families) this poses a problem. No one to pass their name to and no grandchildren for their parents. Although the men may say that this is not a problem at first, it usually becomes one as the relationship develops.
So what attracts younger men to older woman? Max says he likes the idea of being with a more mature, “classy” woman. He says that he can’t relate to woman of his age who are “jumping around like fools.” He likes Pam becomes she’s more settled, stable and more worldly. And what about when she’s 60 and he’s just 45. Doesn’t matter, he says. Love will prevail, he insists.
But as a worldly, more mature woman, Pam tells me privately that although she loves Max dearly and can’t imagine life without him, she doesn’t think their relationship will last. I guess with age comes wisdom and the knowledge that love doesn’t always conquer all.