The Allure of Bobcats

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you’re familiar with the term cougar. From Demi Moore’s marriage to Courtney Cox’s hit sitcom to the local single mom you hear is seeing her kids’ nanny, sexy women over 40 dating younger guys are in the zeitgeist. But what about bobcats?

Younger than cougars but no less luscious, these women seek out mates (and dates) who are decidedly older than they are. They’re the pretty young things keeping men like George Clooney on their toes through their forties, fifties and even sixties. But with so much of their lives ahead of them (and plenty of energy to spare), why do these 20 and 30-something women go after men as much twice their age?

If you’re wondering what makes a bobcat tick, then listen up. I ought to know. I used to be one.

Far from dowdy or old before their time, bobcats are usually strong, independent minded young women who see themselves as sophisticated. They don’t have time for the frat boy antics they associate with men their own age (or god forbid, younger!) and they tend to be – gasp! – upwardly mobile themselves. Does that mean they’re gold diggers? Sometimes. But more often than not, bobcats aren’t looking for a free ride. From my experience (and that of my fellow – current and former — bobcat friends), bobcats are capable people who write their own tickets! They simply want to be respected and moreover, understood. Which (sorry younger guys), often leads to dating men with more life (read: relationship) experience.

Most bobcats will tell you they didn’t set out aspiring to this role, but one relationship with an older man was all it took to sway their tastes. I know after the first older guy (32 to my 23 – and the age gaps widened from there), I got used to the charms of someone who’d lived a little – the stories, the knowledge, the desire to enrich my life – our life – by participating in an adventure together. There’s a teacher/student appeal to this dynamic and though that doesn’t always apply in the bedroom (bobcats are far from sexually naÔve, rest assured), older men simply tend to be more generous and appreciative lovers.

While a sexually aware woman can scare a cougar-cub (I did that once too!), rare is the 40+ guy who will be freaked out by your freaky side. Plus, what girl doesn’t like a man who gives – and is grateful to receive rather than expectant or impatient? After so many nights wondering whether a guy will call, it’s refreshing to deal with an adult who lets you know what he’s thinking … at least most of the time. (Let’s face it: older guys can turn out to be jerks — or inadvertently uncommunicative — too.)

That said, contrary to easy assumption, most bobcats are not in a rush to settle down, which can spell trouble for those who become more than casually involved with their graying prey. Whereas a bobcat may prefer to keep the big questions unanswered (and her options open), her guy may feel ready to settle down. Being at different stages of life can be tough on any relationship, and this one is no different.

Finally, while some bobcats do have a daddy complex, most simply want to be taken care of by a man they can rely on. Before you jump up and cry gold digger again (which is often a young guy’s explanation for bobcat behavior), being cared for doesn’t necessarily imply being showered with money or material things (though admittedly, older men have usually achieved more success than their younger counterparts).

Rather, it translates as spending time with an intellectually stimulating man who isn’t stingy with affection, appreciation or himself. One who finds you exciting as opposed to taxing. Who wants to please you as much as he wants to be pleased. Bobcats feel that these should be tenets of every relationship, but a maturity gap between men and women often exists (at least in the bobcat’s mind).

Whether that’s really true depends on the people in question (I wound up marrying a man just two years my senior, which in bobcat terms means he’s practically younger than I am!)… But don’t tell a die hard bobcat that. It’s something she (along with her cougar counterpart) will have to learn for herself!

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