Cougar, Mrs. Robinson, Cradle Robber … the nicknames may make you laugh, but FOFs dating younger men is a serious trend. A 2003 study by AARP revealed that 34 percent of women over 40 were dating younger men, and 35 percent preferred it to dating older men. “This generation of over-50 women has more energy. They want to go out, travel, exercise and have fabulous careers,” says FOF dating coach Cheryl Savage. “Men in their 30s and 40s are a better match for their energy.” Read about 4 FOF celebs and their significantly younger beaus. Then, share what you think: Are “cougar” romances delightful. . . .or doomed?
Was Lance Armstrong FOF Sheryl Crow’s favorite mistake? Maybe… and more likely, her youngest. Sheryl is nine years Lance’s senior. The Grammy-award winning singer and the pro-cyclist met at a charity event in 2003 and fell fast for each other. “I’ve never had anybody be so completely positive that I’m the person that they want to be with,” said Sheryl in an interview with ABC News. “I can be myself with Sheryl, she can be herself with me, so we relieve each other of pressure.” Lance told Oprah in 2005. But, ultimately it was pressure that tore them apart. That same year, the two were engaged and shortly after broke it off. It was just two weeks before Sheryl’s 44th birthday. “She wanted marriage, she wanted children; and not that I didn’t want that, but I didn’t want that at that time because I had just gotten out of a marriage, I’d just had kids,” Armstrong, reveals in his biography Lance. “Yet we’re up against her biological clock — that pressure is what cracked it.”
Cheryl says: “A lot of time when a woman gets to that age, it puts pressure on the relationship. Lance had been married and had children, Sheryl hadn’t. That is a discussion that needs to happen up front because it could break a relationship. I’m not talking the first, second or third date, but early on in the relationship that conversation needs to happen.”
FOF newscaster Katie Couric made news when she began dating a man 17 years her junior. “I was reading the New York Times and I look up and there are six paparazzi,” she says in a People magazine article. “All I could think was, Where is Britney Spears?” The paparazzi were actually snapping shots of Katie, 54, and her boyfriend, Brooks Perlin, the 37-year-old CFO of Eco Supply Center on a recent trip to Florida. The two met at a fundraising event in 2006, according to People, but Katie has only spoken about the relationship recently. “I thought he was really cute,” says Katie of their meeting. “He asked me if I wanted to have dinner sometime, and I liked that it was so direct and natural.” She confessed that she considered canceling the date when she found out his age. “I knew he was younger but I didn’t think he was that much younger!” Luckily, she didn’t back out…and the two have been together ever since. “I’ve been called all kinds of things. I’ve been ‘cougared,’ which was just obnoxious. But if its good enough for Demi right?” says Katie who takes the criticism in stride. “He’s incredibly kind, caring and sensitive,” she says of Brooks. “He challenges me in ways I wouldn’t be challenged otherwise.”
Cheryl says: “I’ve been in that situation. I was on a date with a man seventeen years younger and I started judging myself. I was like “Ohmigod, why am I here? I was seventeen when he was born.” I calmed myself down and asked myself the four questions I encourage all women to ask themselves when they are unsure on a date. Do I like him? Is he interesting? What can I learn about him? How do I feel when I’m with him?” I felt good, and I just let myself have a good time. Thank goodness Katie went out on the date with Brooks and didn’t judge herself. Katie says Brooks challenges her. I get the impression he challenges her physically as well. A younger love interest can push us to take better care of ourselves.
“I never thought I’d be the marrying type, really,” said New York socialite and Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell, who “once declared marriage a male institution that leaves women alone and unhappy,” according to The New York Times. But, even she got struck by cupid’s arrow. Candace met her hubby Charles Askegard, a principal dancer for the New York Ballet, at a $3,000-a-plate benefit in 2002. Candace was 43 and Charles was 33 at the time. “At first he seemed too young,” says Candace. “But then I looked into his eyes and it was like. ‘Whoa!'” The couple tied the knot just two months later, barefoot on the beach in Nantucket. ”It’s the end of an era, definitely,” said Candace’s longtime friend Jay McInerney. “Candace Bushnell gets married — it’s like Johnny Carson retiring.” Perhaps it was the end of an era, but for Candace and a whole generation of Sex and the City fans, it started a revelation — true love can strike at any age. “I waited for the right person, and I encourage other women to do the same,” says Candace. And to those who call her a “cougar”: “[It’s] a derogatory term used to make a woman feel uncomfortable because she’s not keeping up the status quo,” says Candace. “When have I kept up the status quo?”
Cheryl says: Candace found love because she went to the charity dinner with no expectations. Her mind wasn’t on finding a husband. She was also in tune enough with her emotions to realize that there was a connection between her and Charles. So many women don’t get dates because they are not paying attention to the men who are out there interested in them. I constantly teach women how to go to a function, get rid of all the judgment and be open. One woman asked me why her hands get sweaty when she talks to certain men. I said, “that’s chemistry!” If you are in a room and feel something, always, go towards that chemistry.
Married…with Children star Katey Segal has had far from traditional experiences with marriage and children. Three times married, the 57-year-old actress had multiple complications with fertility. During her second marriage, to musician Jack White, she was able to conceive two children but only after multiple miscarriages. Katey and Jack divorced in 2000, and four years later, Katey was introduced by a friend to her third and final hubby, director and producer Kurt Sutter. She was 50, he was 44. “He asked me if I would have coffee with him sometime, and I said yes, and then I was kind of out of touch,” said Katey in an interview with E! Online. “And then he called me like a couple months later and asked me to coffee, and we went and kind of never left each other after that.” The couple welcomed their daughter Esmé, born via surrogacy, in 2007. “My thing about having another child was, time’s-a-wasting!” said Katey in an interview with People Magazine. “I was unable to carry a child, so we were always looking at alternative approaches. Our surrogacy situation just fell into place really easily….I held Esmé, and Kurt cut the cord. It was a beautiful experience.”
Cheryl says: It sounds like Kurt pursued Katey, which is good. I always suggest to women that when you are asked out, go! It doesn’t matter if you think he is too old, too young, too short, too tall or has a hole in his jeans. When Katey met Kurt she was probably thinking “I don’t know, I was unsuccessful at marriage two times….” But, bless her, she finally gave him a chance. They probably had a conversation very early in the relationship that he wanted children and they had to figure out how to do it and they did. Again, with an older woman and younger man, that discussion about children should come up at some point early on.”Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.