Striking out in the love department? It may be time to channel your inner “cougar.” Halle Berry, Diane Lane, Kim Cattrall and Demi Moore — all of whom are in their 40s and 50s — have snagged some of Hollywood’s hottest younger men in recent years, proving that when it comes to attracting someone, youth doesn’t always equate with desirability. So, what is it about older women that men can’t seem to resist? Below, dating experts weigh in on what makes these midlife stunners such man-magnets — and how you can harness some of their abilities, regardless of your age.
Reason #1: Older women avoid putting pressure on the men they date
Want to know the quickest way in a budding relationship to send a man running in the opposite direction? Pressure him about settling down, “putting a ring on it” or having kids — things that a woman in her mid-to-late 40s and early 50s hardly ever does with her dates. “Because she’s not at an age where her biological clock is ticking loudly or all of her friends are just getting married, the desire to settle down isn’t an older woman’s main romantic goal,” explains Jennifer Bidwell, a dating and relationships coach in Washington, D.C. “This is a huge reason why a man — especially a younger one who isn’t completely ready for all of those life-changing experiences — will be attracted to someone in her 40s or 50s,” says Bidwell. To avoid putting an uncomfortable squeeze on the man you’re seeing, Bidwell advises adopting a couldn’t-care-less attitude about getting serious — even if it’s really your top priority: “By adopting that cougar-esque practice of acting nonchalant about commitment in the early stages of a relationship, you’ll allow your guy to give himself to you more freely and completely, because he won’t feel the weight of your need to find Mr. Right right now.”
Reason #2: Older women keep it classy when they go out looking to meet men
Though Girls Gone Wild-type behavior seems to be de rigeur (in bars and clubs after midnight, anyway), most women in their 40s and 50s know better than to lie across a bar and offer a random stranger the chance to do a body shot off of them. “Sadly, skanky going-out behavior seems to be the norm amongst many young single women these days,” Bidwell explains. “It may be alluring on a purely ‘I’d like to sleep with her’ level, but no man I’ve ever met wants to enter into a serious relationship with a woman who struts into the bar with her boobs falling out of her dress, gets sloppily drunk, or seductively dances on tables at a club.” It’s OK to have a regrettable ladies’ night out when you’re with your girlfriends, but if you’re looking for a real relationship, keep your nightlife behavior strictly above-board, Bidwell advises: “When you’re out and looking to attract a man, make like an older woman and sip on a classic cocktail — like a dirty martini or a Manhattan — and dress to look pretty, not be provocative.”
Reason #3: Older women know their way around the bedroom
It’s no secret that men love physical affection, but as with anything, not all intimacy is created equal. Because midlife women sometimes have 20 (or more) years of experience over their younger counterparts, their seduction know-how can be pretty extensive — and really, what man would complain about a woman who knows exactly how to please him? “Experience used to disqualify women from being respectable sexual partners; but now, that same experience has value — and it’s part of what many men are looking for,” says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, author of Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years. In order to make up for your relative lack of experience, she suggests reading up on some new techniques. “There are countless books, videos, websites and even blogs on these techniques, all of which can be accessed in the privacy of your own home,” Bidwell advises. She also suggests asking lots of questions when you’re in bed together: “Not all men like the same things, but there are a few constants. The easiest way to learn is to come right out and ask your partner what he likes and what feels good to him, and then remember it for the next time — whether it’s with him or someone else!”
Reason #4: Older women can pick up the tab (and actually enjoy doing it)
Sure, men usually enjoy treating a woman to a romantic evening out, but Dr. Schwartz says there’s something awfully sexy about a woman who’s not only willing, but also more than able to foot the bill when it comes. “When a woman has economic means of her own — which many older women do — men love it,” she explains. “There’s something very alluring about a woman who can take care of a man and doesn’t necessarily need it to be the other way around.” Though many older women have bank accounts that reflect many more years of career earnings (or even alimony payments), you can still radiate financial independence — even if you’re on a tight budget. “Look for deals at hot restaurants or destinations offered through sites like LivingSocial or Groupon,” Bidwell suggests. “Make a reservation for you and your date, but call ahead to cash in the voucher; that way, it’s already been taken off the check once the bill arrives for you to pay. You’ll look like a big spender, but he’ll be none the wiser.”
Reason #5: Older women aren’t coy about making the first move
Both Bidwell and Dr. Schwartz say that perhaps the sexiest thing about older women is their readiness to take the lead — be it asking for a date, kissing someone or simply initiating a conversation. “Forget The Rules — what makes these women irresistible to men is their assertiveness,” says Bidwell. “Sometimes, being in the passenger’s seat and not the driver’s seat is the biggest turn-on for a man. I can’t tell you how many men have told me that they find it incredibly sexy when a woman confidently approaches to say that she finds him attractive, offers to buy him a drink, or even tells him what she likes in the bedroom.” In order to channel this type of self-assuredness, Dr. Schwartz advises simply acting like you know what you’re doing — and that you’re enjoying it. “When making the first move with a man, do so without hesitation — even if you have to fake your confidence! Men like to know that their partner is very excited and happy to be doing whatever they are doing together… not that it’s taking up all the courage that this person can muster,” she explains. When you show pleasure, comfort and confidence in everything you do, it will be hard for men to resist you, asserts Dr. Schwartz.
When DC-based journalist Chelsea Kaplan isn’t helping you solve your relationship problems, she’s making jewelry. Check it out atwww.chelseabellejewelry.com.