‘Cougars’ on the prowl, hit back against social stigma

Caroline Flack, the 33 year old woman who dated17 year old One Direction star Harry Styles, caught her fair share of criticism for her ‘cradle-robbing’ behaviour, but an increasing number of ‘cougars’ are proudly declaring their disdain when it comes to dating younger men.

There has been an historical double standard when it comes to dating someone much younger than yourself for quite some time. For some reason, it’s more socially acceptable for a man to date a woman ten or fifteen years younger than him, yet when women do so they are almost universally reviled.

However, the move towards legitimacy for ‘cougar’ dating has been underway for some time, mostly due to high-profile relationships such as the Styles-Flack pairing. Other well-known celebrities, such as Demi Moore and Madonna, have had well-publicised relationships with younger men, which has led to a gradual normalisation of the idea that women can date younger men as easily as men can date younger women.

In fact, 19 per cent of men now say that they would not be dissuaded from dating a woman if she was up to 15 years older, according to a recent research study. However, this seems to be the upper limit, as the lion’s share drew the line at 20 years, with only 4 per cent reporting that a two decade age difference wasn’t a bother to them.

Just slightly less than one out of every three male respondents indicated that they would be comfortable dating someone ten years older than them. This figure increases steadily as the gap narrows year by year, the research findings indicate, with the highest approval rating – that of 98 per cent – was found for age gaps of anywhere from one to three years.