Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Am I a Cougar or a Kitten?

The cat name I can claim depends on the guy I date. If he’s younger than me, I’m a cougar, according to the latest pop culture labels. And if he’s older, I’m a kitten. A woman becomes different versions of a cat, just by the age of a guy she’s dating. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you look and feel. So I can be a cougar this week if I find a boy toy and a kitten next week by dating an old coot. Lucky me (she says with sarcasm)!


The reality show Age of Love brought the age terms onto mainstream TV. A 30 year old guy met 10 women in their twenties labeled the kittens because they were younger than the bachelor. And there were 10 women over 40, labeled cougars—because they were older than him. This bachelor got to choose between them like a little boy tasting candy in a store and then selecting the one to eat.

Now there’s an E! show called Hottest Hollywood Cougar Tales. Women who were with younger guys were discussed as women on the make for boy toys, looking for a good looking guy to have fun with, like a cat on the prowl for younger meat. I know that TV shows need to sensationalize issues to attract and keep viewers. But it’s insulting to women! Why are women judged in graphic terms when they date someone younger?


Men are more likely to date women who are much younger, but don’t get the kind of scrutiny that we do.

Men go out with older women and they’re just men. They go out with much younger women and are still men. Yet women are put into categories when they do the same thing! I’ve always dated men who are younger than me. My energy level is high and I don’t look or feel my age. My interests are also more youthful than many people in my age bracket. So I tend to date guys who are a bit younger.

But I’m not some cougar on the prowl for a boy toy to service me, as some assume about women who date younger guys. Nor would I reject a great guy because he was my age. I just tend to end up with younger guys, and enjoy them. Our interests are usually more in synch. Guys my own age are often clueless about things I’m passionate about. But does that make me more than a girl who ends up dating guys who are younger? Must I live up to the cougar label?


People didn’t flinch (not much anyway!) when Jack Nicholson had a relationship with actress Lara Flynn Boyle. He was thirty-three years older. Thirty-three!! Yet when I’ve dated someone 10 years younger I’ve been teased as a cradle robber. A much bigger deal is made of actresses who date younger guys, even if the difference is only a few years. This reflects the subtle yet pervasive double standards that still haunt women who empower themselves or try to break out of old molds.

I was once interviewed for an article in Cosmopolitan magazine about why women date older men. The examples were mainly of men dating women at least 15 years or more younger. They did a shorter corresponding piece on women dating younger men. They mainly had an age difference of 5-10 years. Yet much more is made of a woman with a younger guy than a guy with a MUCH younger woman.


All of these labels and double standards can undermine progress for being a self-empowered chick.

If your self-esteem isn’t strong yet, it’s harder to go forward when labels make you uncomfortable. DoorMats want to please and get scared that dating someone out of the traditional box might alienate people. That can make you pass on potential partners who’d make you happy. I made an effort to avoid feeling ridiculed or being questioned about my motives when I felt less secure and was more of a People Pleaser. If I was questioned about a guy I dated, my insecurity increased. So it was easier to date “the norm.” Back then, being called a cougar would have made me cringe.


Now I laugh. I don’t think it’s fair to be put into a category, but now I know who I am and don’t care about what others think. That’s a hard place for many women to reach.

Building up your sense of self helps you ignore the dumb things people say. We have a right to date people who are younger or older or whatever rocks your boat. My focus is on being happy. People who tease or label often aren’t and look for what to pick on in others. So let them call me a cougar, since I’ll probably be with younger guys. It can’t hurt me unless I let it! And I won’t let it anymore. Grrrrrrrr… ?

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  • Linda Franklin

    Hi Daylle:Isn’t it crazy how this cougar craziness has taken hold. I have been writing about women who are smart, sexy, confident and financially independent for a long time now. I call them “Real Cougars”. “Real Cougars” can be married or they can be single. It’s not about the band on their finger, it’s all about attitude.No woman should let a label or jealousy stop her from being who she is and doing what makes her happy. She has worked hard to get what she wanted and doesn’t have to apologize to anyone.Yes, a bonus of being a “Real Cougar” might be attracting the attention of a younger man. But, she isn’t the hunter. She just has so much to offer that they want to be around her.So all you wonderful, saavy ladies just enjoy everything you have worked so hard to achieve. This is your time to roar.Linda

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Very good points Linda! I’m definitely not in hunting mode. I encourage women not to be in all my books. When you get a life and are happy, it radiates out and attracts people. As Helen Reddy sang, “I am woman hear me roar.” That’s the kind of cougar generated from the inside.Cheers,Daylle

  • HollywoodCougar

    Hey, Dayelle,Loved your post and couldn’t agree more. High time for women to claim their rights to sexual confidence, including the enjoyment of the company of younger men.Thought you might like to know that there’s a real Hollywood Cougar telling true tales from the Hollywood Jungle on her very own blog.I’m a 40+ Hollywood hottie who’s been there, done that, with a whole lot of hot young men. I’m nearly famous, if you judge by the number of hunky guys I’ve been with. I tell names, if I think I can get away with it, and if I haven’t slept with a celeb, I’ve had his girlfriend throw her drink at me.Most recently, at Eva Longoria-Parker’s vanity restaurant, Beso.Read more at:

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you’re enjoying life as a cougar. kudos! : )

  • Alain

    I hate it when the media starts giving women these names.
    A woman is a woman, whether dating an older man or a younger man.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    I agree Alain.

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