Please don’t call me a cougar …

28 Dec

Yes, I have a younger husband. There, I said it. He’s younger, by a fair few years. Not enough to technically put me in the ‘cougar’ category (more than 10 years older, so says – google ‘cougar’ … it’s hilarious!), despite many a label thrown my way, but enough to make me eternally paranoid.

This is how conversations go with new friends when they learn about our seven-ish year age difference.

They say: Oh, Simon’s younger … so you’re a cougar?

I hear: Oh, Simon’s younger … so you’re a sad, old, lonely predator who covets pretty young things?

Yep, paranoid! Although, admittedly, I’m not half as paranoid as I used to be. Back in the early days, about eight ago when we first started dating, I was terrified people would think less of me because Simon was younger. I didn’t want to be one of ‘those women’ who covets younger men. I was a little embarrassed … and a lot confused. Why would such a hot, young guy want to be with this ageing soon-to-be divorcee?

For the record, Simon is my first ‘younger man’. There I was, leaving an unhappy marriage, and on my way out I tripped over my now-husband. It was a complete accident! He was young, cute, divinely naïve, and not looking to settle down. Bingo! I was looking for an ‘I’ve left my husband now what the hell do I do?’ distraction, so he seemed like a safe (and oh, so good-looking) option.

It was supposed to be first in a long line of ‘self discovery relationships’. I needed a bit of ‘who am I and where am I going?’ time. But eight years later, that ‘toy boy fling’ is my husband and the father of my adorable son. Whoops! Best laid plans and all that …

 Anyway, back to my years of paranoia.

If someone even glanced at us when we were out and about I’d have a mini meltdown. “Oh my God, did you see that guy? He is looking at us funny ‘cause I’m older than you. Is it that obvious? Honey? Do I look THAT old?”

Over time, I better accepted our age difference and took a new approach to having a younger partner … upsizing! For about eight years, Simon has believed he is at least one year older than he really is (ie. when he was 25 he thought he was 26!). Poor guy, I honestly think he has lost track of his actual age! Just a little bit of mathematical rounding up …  

Okay, so one measly year doesn’t really make a difference on the, “Do they think I’m a cougar?” front, but I have embraced the upsize, much to Simon’s dismay. In 2012 he will finally turn 30, or is that 31 … or 29? Who knows!

My friends, and annoying little brother, still dine out on the age difference – jokes-a-go-go at my expense – but that’s okay. Simon is a wonderful husband and a loving dad, and I have learnt to embrace having a hot, younger husband.

I just hate being called a cougar, and sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever completely shake the label, which gives me the utter shits. If a man has a younger partner he is considered a ‘sugar daddy’, not a dirty old man. He is put on a pedestal like some kind of sex God, worshipped by all men. Think Hugh Heffner and J Howard Marshall (the late Anna-Nicole Smith’s late hubby).

Admittedly, the ‘older woman, younger man’ thing is becoming more common, thank goodness, but it’s still a long way off being as accepted as the ‘older man, younger woman’ scenario.

Right now, it’s time to put on my big girl’s panties and get on with my day, alongside my hot, younger husband.  

Do you have a younger partner? Do you embrace or reject the cougar label?



15 Responses to “Please don’t call me a cougar …”

  1. Heather March 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post!
    There’s a younger guy in my life that I get along with really well and am quite drawn to. I’ve often had the thought that I wish he was older or that I wish I was younger.
    A few days ago one of our friends commented on how well we suited each other.
    My immediate comment was, “I can’t! I’m too old.” I pointed out our seven-year age gap that she hadn’t noticed due to him looking and acting older and me looking and acting younger. He is 23, I’m 30. To make matters slighty more interesting I had a younger brother of exactly the same age who died in a car accident late last year. I imagine psychologists would go wild there.

    After some thought she decided that in our case it didn’t matter, which was sweet of her, but now I’ve had a few sleepless nights of ‘do I dare? – no, I shouldn’t!’ tossing and turning. Anyway – I just wanted to say thank you for this post. The fears you mentioned are exactly the ones that have been playing havoc with my mind. It was so nice to hear from someone with a similar age gap who’s gone through it. I still don’t know what my final decision will be but this has helped a lot.

    • alli & genine March 13, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Oh Heather, I SO know how you feel! EXACTLY!!! I was terrified, but you know what? I decided that life was short and that you can find love in the most unexpected places. And what’s the worst thing that can happen? You might have a fabulous time with a gorgeous man. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And age may not be the reason for it not working. I certainly didn’t expect to marry my younger man, but life’s like that. I say take the risk. People will get used to it, and if they don’t – bugger them! It’s your life. Your happiness. Today, I mostly forget that my husband is younger, as do my friends. He’s a good man, a loving dad and a supportive husband – no matter what his age. Can’t say I won’t be relieved when he FINALLY hits 30 this year, ha! So, I say go with your heart. Love really does hide in the most unexpected places. Whatever you decide, don’t be hard on yourself, okay? GOOD LUCK! Oh, and keep me posted – seriously! Sending support and hugs. Alli xx

      • Heather March 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

        Thanks for the luck, Alli!

        ha ha – I know what you mean about him finally hitting thirty. I’ve been thinking ‘maybe we could wait two years and then he’d be 25 at least’.

        I had a good talk with my Mum about it last night. She was supportive and said that this was not the most important thing in a relationship anyway. Things like does he treasure you and can you respect him are more important. I guess she’s right. I can’t quite stop myself fearing what his parents and siblings might think though. I can imagine his Mum turning into a protective lioness (just to complete the annoying cat metaphore) and ‘tearing my throat out’. To this Mum said ‘or they might love you’, but I can’t really see that happening yet.

        I don’t care so much what the general public might think about me, but I do care what they might think about him and what our families think.

        • alli & genine March 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

          But you know what Heather? The people who matter will see you are happy and will deal with it. Because that’s what matters, Like your mum said – if you are happy and he treats you well, that’s what matters. I speak from experience when I say that the age difference seems like a BIG DEAL to begin with, but honestly, you forget. And the people around you will too – some might take a bit of time to come to terms with it, but you know what? That’s their problem, not yours! Good luck – it really has been lovely chatting with you! Alli x

          • Heather March 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

            I’m sure you’re right about that.
            There’s a married couple I know and I had no idea that she was so much older than him until someone pointed it out. I still can’t really see it.

            Thanks, Alli. It’s been great to hear from you!
            I’ll let you know what happens.

  2. Yale Stephens December 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Love dwells in the strangest of places, Alli…in some you’d expect, and in others you’d never think of.

    You found it, and that’s all that matters; bollocks to anyone who wants to hang shit on you for it!

    (BTW, I’m a toy boy too, by 18 months…but just like you, my wife and I have been together now for nearly nine years — in the big scheme of things, who cares about age, so long as everyone involved are functional people?)

    If you’re happy and the rest of the world has issues with you for it, tell ’em to get stuffed. Bottom line!

    • alli & genine December 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

      That’s fabulous Yale!! Thanks for sharing with us …

      Completely agree!!


  3. Dee December 29, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Well said!! It’s so true and so stupidly sad really? My new man is 6 years younger than me ( me 34, him 28) – to be honest we have been lucky enough to have friends who only see us being happy and that’s all they care about ( my 7 year old loves to tell people very loudly that when I was in grade 7 he was in prep as often as possible though!!)…what I did find though when I was single was that young guys would follow me around a pub/club like stalkers and then say “how old are you?” when I told them the response would be ” oh nice, your a cougar” what the???? For a start pretty sure you have been ” preying” on me like a antelope in the jungle AND it’s NOT a compliment to be called a cougar you idiot!! Haha! Also, surely the age gap needs to be quite substantial to warrant the title?

    • alli & genine December 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      Dee – I know! Younger men seem to wear it as a badge of honour, but not in the way they should … it’s more about ‘snagging a cougar’ than seeking anything meaningful. Very sad!
      Congrats on finding someone you love – the rest shouldn’t matter!


  4. Kim December 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    I’m with you, my husband loves to tell everyone that I am his older woman – even if it is only a month! I wouldn’t give it a second thought unless you start driving around a red convertible sports car wearing leopard skin print leggings and shoulder pads and paying for your younger man to sit around the apartment looking ‘pretty’!

    • alli & genine December 29, 2011 at 1:08 am #

      Thanks Kim … oh dear, does that mean I have to take those leopard skin print leggings back to the shops?? Ha! And bless your husband …


      • Kim Ivey Stephens December 29, 2011 at 1:23 am #

        Ha ha ha, well as long as you don’t team them with shoulder pads you could get away with them…what do you think Nikki?

  5. Nikki Parkinson (@StylingYou) December 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Don’t call me a cougar either! Stupid word. Was with my now-husband long before the word was invented and there was no preying involved! Great post Ali x

    • alli & genine December 29, 2011 at 1:07 am #

      Oh Nikki … I knew you would be with me! Vile word, isn’t it?

      Alli x

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