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“They’re looking for companionship, sexual contact, and someone good to talk to and spend time with.

To her shock and bemusement, there was a new term to describe what she had been doing most of her life — dating younger men.

Wheeler, a fiery redhead who lives outside Baltimore, leaned back in her chair and sighed. “I liked younger guys even when I was in high school — like a year or two younger.

“For a 70-year-old guy to go out with a 40-year-old woman, as opposed to a 70-year-old woman going out with a 40-year-old guy?

A 70-year-old woman going out with a 40-year-old guy is considered creepy.” Why the double standard?

Men, of course, have their reasons for dating older women, too.

In the fast-paced world of Los Angeles, “dating” may mean going out a few times or spending just one night together.And since men have been dating younger women for ages, why are so many of us surprised — shocked, even — that women would follow suit?Valerie Gibson, author of Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men, is all too familiar with this double standard. They were absolutely horrified that older women should be having sex with younger men.”When many of us think “cougar,” we picture the ultimate cougar of the big screen: The Graduate’s legendary, martini-sipping Mrs. These days, real-life cougars are stars like Demi Moore (who, in her 40s, married then-twenty-something heartthrob Ashton Kutcher), the coiffed reality-show cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County, and, yes, everyday women — suburbanites and city-slickers alike.The self-proclaimed cougar wrote her first book on the topic — Younger Men: How to Find Them, Date Them, Mate Them, and Marry Them — 14 years ago, “and let me tell you something,” she said in a whisper. While there’s no denying that cougars are slinking into the mainstream, there’s still an element of taboo surrounding these age-spanning relationships.“It’s definitely considered creepier for women to go out with younger men,” admitted Junie Smith*, a 52-year-old cougar who lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.The study stated that the divorce rate now, compared to when cougars were married some 25 years ago, has contributed to the amount of single, 50 women, said to be “on the prowl” in today’s dating pool.

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