The trend has been fast and intense: In the four years I've been dating as a single mom, there has been a steep uptick in young guys looking for older single moms. I know — all of the sudden they've started to approach me online dating sites. I'm 39 and these guys are in their 20s. Opening lines include:
“I'm a Columbia Law student, so while I might be younger, I'm clearly smart and ambitious.”
“You look like you're fun. Want to teach me something?”
“Open to fun times with a young stud?”
As well as perfectly thoughtful messages that remark about my profile, interests or photos. The gamut. If I respond, does that make me a cougar?
Bit of background: All the men I've been involved with in my life were my age or older (in one case, way, way older but I'll elaborate on that in another post). Twice in the past few years I was involved for a few months each with men who were 3 and 5 years my junior, and in both cases they were really, really lovely people, hyper-bright, ambitious and both were about 700% better looking than me. Both were great experiences. Even if I would stare at them across the bar table or at their head on my pillow, rub my eyes and think WTF is going on here?! , my ego, I admit, was like a sow in shit …mmmmm … prrrrrr … meow … oink!
This cougar-seeking phenomenon is another thing all together. What is significant about this trend is that a) younger men historically have not been interested in older women — especially moms. After all, youth in every culture is prized in mating, as biology favors young junk. b) The uptick in this young-dude interest is so swift – and the age gaps significant.
I'm not the only one to notice. A few weeks ago my friend Perri emailed me:
I have a question for you. I just joined a dating site, and love it. But why am I being contacted by so many men who are 21 to 28 years old? I'm 42! It's crazy. I don't look my age but it's there in my profile, so no guessing is involved. Is this a dare to screw an old chick? That said, I'm meeting a guy tonight to play pool. He's great, makes me laugh, we have similar careers and education and the conversation is very easy and uncomplicated. But still – I'm perplexed!
I admit, I'm perplexed too. So I did some research. And by “research,” I started quizzing the Benjamin Braddocks who hit me up online.
Listen to my Like a Mother episode on this:
The first one was a super-buff 24 year-old whose profile said he speaks English and Hebrew, works in finance and photos showcased him hanging with a dolphin and jamming at karaoke with his bros. His profile included:
Here's what this fine young man said:
Oh boy, that one wasn't too introspective — or maybe he was just really horny and desperate himself? Anyway, the next exchange wasn't terribly valuable for gaining insight (though note his comments about looking for someone independent). A dark, handsome 27-year-old with a scrubbly face and almost zero info in his profile engaged me in this exchange:
Third one? A charm.
This 27-year-old advertising exec was again, super-cute, and his profile funny, smart and thoughtful. You know, the kind of guy I wouldn't think twice about dating. After he ‘liked' me, I jumped right to business:
Read the comments. The 31-year-old and I are dating.
Takeaway: If you want to go out with a younger guy, go out with a younger guy. Maybe for a fun drink. Maybe for a hot roll in the hay — once or regularly. And who knows, maybe for the long term. The only rules about young guys looking for older single moms are those you make for yourself. Enjoy!
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.