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Kryptonite: The Attractive Older Man

I pride myself on setting a hard limit of 30 for the men I date. (Okay, more like 25...and admittedly up to a whopping 32 if the fish in the sea are scarce on the apps.)

But once in a while, I'm blindsided by a man who breaks the ceiling and simultaneously breaks my cougar brain as I try to compute what's happening. And what's happening is, inexplicably and horrifyingly, I find myself attracted to a man my age.



When the Cougar Rules Fail

How? Why? I don't know!

It's an anomaly. Just when I think I have the math worked out - cougar equals young men over men in their forties - I come across a mature man who makes me feel feelings that can only be described as sexual. And I hate it. And it needs to stop.

Unfortunately, I haven't found a way to make it stop. The attractive older man is my kryptonite.

Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence. But every time it happens, it's unsettling and mystifying. It's like studying for a math exam and showing up to see all the questions are in Spanish.

I proceed to analyze the age-appropriate-for-my-age-but-not-for-me man and everything about our interactions, trying to pinpoint where it all went wrong. Does he look that much younger than his age? Frequently, no. He can't pass for 25. (Neither can I, but we're not talking about me here.)

Then it dawns on me, like a terrible...dawn. Instead of being the "mom" attracted to men in their twenties, I've stumbled upon the creature of the night more terrifying to a cougar than Frankenstein and Dracula combined: the Daddy.

The Daddy

I like being older than the guys I get involved with. I'm allergic to older men. Severely, severely allergic!

Most of the time.

Sometimes there's an error in the coding and I find my operating system warming up to a man who is teaching university courses, not taking them. A man who doesn't know how to use TikTok any better than I do. Sometimes my mature male allergy temporarily subsides and I feel pleasantly intoxicated by the idea of being the younger one in the relationship. It's hard to admit. But it's true.

Eventually I'm able to laugh it off and get a grip on my cougar self again. But sometimes, if my defences are down and he's particularly confident, funny and articulate, the word "Daddy" will pop into my brain and that's another story entirely. That's next-level discomfort. Let's call it panic.

It's against the cougar rules.

On page 137 of the cougar handbook, it says you're only allowed to be attracted to a man your age or older if it falls short of "Daddy" level. If it reaches Daddy level, you risk losing your membership as a card-carrying cougar. It's a very dangerous situation!

How I Cope

When the unspeakable happens and I find myself a little too eager to talk to an older man, laughing a little too much during our conversations, thinking a little too much about him...I've developed an action plan that I put into place as soon as possible:

  1. I remind myself that he's married. Because of course he is. And I remind myself that I don't want to be married. Ever. So he has something I don't want, and his wife does too. (I have to tell myself this several times to make it convincing. After all, he seems like a good husband. And father. Dammit, there's that "Daddy" again! Who left the door open?)

  2. I remind myself that I can be attracted to one old (-er than the ones who are "mom" age) man and still be a raging cougar chatting with young guys on dating apps. It cancels each other out, right? Like going for a long walk after eating a Twinkie. A Twinkie with grey hair, hard-won confidence gained through life experience, and smile lines that are not unattractive.)

  3. I remind myself that there aren't any cougar police coming to get me. (There isn't a cougar handbook either - I made that up.) So if I find a man in his late thirties or forties (or fifties...*dies*) attractive, so what? Is that illegal or something? Maybe I'm a cougar with occasional Daddy tendencies. Like a vegan who has bacon twice a year. It's not 100% cougar. But it's cougar enough, dammit!

  4. I eat a Twinkie. And go for a walk. And remember that we're still in a pandemic and none of this really matters. And spare a smile thinking about the older man before jumping back on the apps to chat with my usual demographic.

There are a lot of fish in the sea. And some of those fish wear reading glasses and have PhDs. And that's fine.

At the end of the day, and long story short (too late), I'm a cougar at heart. I'd far rather go on a date with the cashier at the grocery store than the guy who runs the joint.

That's my cougar tale and I'm sticking to it!

- M.B.

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