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Ask Dr. Gilda-Help Me Harness My Cougar Potential


Casual flings with younger men have left this 50-year-old cougar feeling desperate. What's the secret to meeting someone younger online and building a relationship together? Dr. Gilda offers her advice.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I've been single since the age of 35 and now I'm 50. I've had short flings, micro-dates, and two brief romances, but no relationship during all this time.

I enjoy the free spirit of younger men. I find these guys emotionally, physically, socially, and sensually more sound than guys my own age. But although I am vivacious, youthful, and attractive, I
The younger men I'm meeting want a fantasy, a hook-up or a friend with benefits.
feel that I am doomed — because online, it seems that there are only a handful of these younger guys for me.

What are the secrets of Katie Couric, Demi Moore and Vivica Fox, who are all in cougar love heaven? The younger men I'm meeting want a fantasy, a hook-up or a friend with benefits, not a relationship. Random, no-strings-attached sex without emotion makes me clingy, needy, more desperate, and even jealous — all images I don't like. I must do something drastic to change my status. Please help!
– Cougar in Waiting

Dear Cougar in Waiting,
The word "cougar" has come to imply a hot, well-educated, financially independent, youthful 40+ woman dating a significantly younger man. Katie, Demi, and Vivica reflect the glamorization of cougars in Hollywood, with Courtney Cox's Cougar Town and Kim Cattrall's character of Samantha Jones from Sex and the City further expanding that image. One characteristic that all of these women exude is total confidence. They truly embody the Latin term for "cougar" — femina magnus, which means "magnificent female."

The world generally assesses Hollywood hook-ups as being not too serious in nature. But in the real world, cougar pairings and marriages are growing more common every day. Older women credit younger men with having less emotional baggage than their older counterparts, and younger men credit older women for less game-playing in their love lives.

To some, the word "cougar" signifies a woman on the prowl; however, younger women are typically hungry for marriage and children. So, Cougar in Waiting, you may be attracting these non-committal young guys rather than those who want permanence out of a relationship. As my Gilda-Gram says, "After you've repeatedly hit the same wall, it's time to start taking notes." So let's examine how you're coming across online a bit closer.

The words we use pack a heavy punch, even when that punch is unintentional. Here are some hidden insights I gleaned from just the words you used in your letter:

"I feel that I am doomed."
If you feel no sense of hope, you will project that you are hopeless. Hopelessness attracts hopeless men. Furthermore, an image of hopelessness certainly doesn't match that of the femme fatale types you desire to emulate.

After you've repeatedly hit the same wall, it's time to start taking notes.
"I must do something drastic."
The word "drastic" connotes desperation. Desperate singles attract other desperate singles. Their attitude suggests insecurity and a willingness to settle for anyone around. This doesn't strike an appealing spark.

"But although I am vivacious, youthful, and attractive…"
Why do you cast these wonderful qualities aside with the word "although" at the beginning of this sentence? There's no "although" about being "vivacious, youthful, and attractive." Practice stating these glorious words with pride, and your attractiveness score will soar.

"…makes me clingy, needy, more desperate, and even jealous."
Cougar, no experience can "make" you anything you don't already have the capacity to be on your own. If you do become "clingy, needy, more desperate [suggesting that you were desperate already], and even jealous," it's because that is what you choose for yourself. Take responsibility for the traits you demonstrate. If they are not serving you, change them. When you do, you will feel empowered.

"Cougar in Waiting"
Waiting implies that you are a passive person. Is this the impression a "vivacious, youthful, and attractive" lady wants to make? Uncage yourself, Cougar! Change your signature and know you're one siren who won't "wait" for anything.

Be conscious of every word you select — even in casual emails to people, including me. Each word triggers a reaction in your body and mind, and this reaction is transparent to all observers. Play some "vivacious, youthful, and attractive" music, and then dance the following three-step:
  1. Visualize yourself as Katie, Demi, or Vivica.
  2. Rewrite this email to me using more assertive language.
  3. Then watch as the young suitors line up and "wait" for you rather than the other way around!
I'm anxious to know your romantic results. Can you hear me smiling? You should!


Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Today.com. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (DrGilda.com).
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