Cougars and pumas: The culture of dating older women


by Nina Gan

We all know that Demi Moore and Mariah Carey were married to men much younger than themselves. But, did you know that actors like Hugh Jackman and Aaron Taylor Johnson (Kickass) also have older wives with an age difference of 13 and 23 years respectively?

These days, it’s not rare to find a ‘cougar’ coupling, where the women are much older than their male counterparts (who are referred to as ‘cubs’).

While there’s no specified age difference between the two parties to qualify the woman as a ‘cougar’, the accepted norm for her age starts from late-30s. If a woman is in her 20s to early 30s, she’s considered a ‘puma’.

The Inevitable Cougar

In the arena of gender equality, it’s not surprising that women are climbing the socioeconomic ladder as fast as their male counterparts. With this newfound wealth, they are technically free of the ‘need’ to marry for money or stability.

While many cougars are self-sufficient – perhaps they’re successful businesswomen – there are those who’ve attained their wealth through marriage. It’s not uncommon to find rich divorcee cougars, being that they have both time and money at their disposal.

Some folks still raise eyebrows at younger male partners, but physiologically it makes sense: women statistically live longer than men, and studies have shown that older women have sex drives similar to young men.

The Irresistible Older Woman?

If TV series like Sex and the City or Cougar Town are anything to go by, it’s not a stretch to say that cougars are on the rise. Google ‘cougar hunter’ and you’ll see the number of cubs interested in older women.

It probably helps that these 40-something women are setting the standards for cougar beauty – these days, with gym memberships and beauty treatments, mature women are looking better than they did in the past.

But looks are not a prerequisite – confidence and stability are big factors for cougars in the eyes of cubs. Cougars also know what they want, so they’re selective when it comes to cubs.

Ask around your peers, and you’ll probably find that most guys these days don’t mind dating confident older women. The perks are plenty: older women are more emotionally stable; they’re more liberal (and experienced); they are less financially needy; and they’re less likely to be clingy.

Cougar Hunting Grounds

Most of you are probably curious about where these cougars prowl for cubs.

If you’ve watched Magic Mike, then you’ll know about male entertainment – they range from rowdy striptease shows (like the Chippendales) to tame host clubs, where women pay to chat with good-looking male hosts. However, these options are not widely available in Singapore.

This is probably why cougars and cubs have gone online. Like or Tinder, there are dedicated cougar dating sites like CougarLife and Cougars, as well as apps like Cougar Dates Online.

There are also cougar events held in many cities in the world, where curious cougars meet equally curious toy boys. It’s more of a fun social outing where people meet like-minded folk.

The Road Ahead

We often think nothing of couples with an older male partner, but when the roles are reversed, we do a double take. However, in recent years, marriages involving older women are on the rise – both locally and in traditionally paternal countries like South Korea. Will this trend become a norm, or will people still be skeptical of such unions?