Cougars are women dating younger men. Exact ideas on the age gap and woman's age to be classified as a cougar vary. For many, a woman in her thirties who dating younger men is called a 'Puma'; becoming a 'Cougar' only once she reaches 40. General consensus suggests that an age gap of at least 10 years is required to be classified as a cougar. The younger men a single older woman dates are often referred to as 'cubs' or, more commonly of course - as 'toyboys'.
Women dating younger men is nothing new. In fact, in the Muslim Koran, the Prophet Mohammed's first wife, Khadija, was considerably older than he was. Then, of course, there was Cleopatra, who was rumoured to have many younger lovers, and Britain's King Edward VIII fell in love with older woman and divorce Wallace Simpson.
In modern times, the older woman/younger man relationship hit our screens with the movie 'The Graduate', and Hollywood has a number of older woman/younger man couples - most notably Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Sam Taylor Wood and Aaron Johnson and Madonna and currently Jesus Luz (and a number of others previously).
Sex and The City featured Samantha, who was well known for her love of dating younger men, who eventually ended up falling for Smith Jared, a much younger man. Then, in 2009, Cougar Town, starring Courtney Cox (who, in real life has a younger husband), hit our screens.
The term 'cougar' has both positive and negative associations. While those in favour see it becoming much like the gay term 'queer' in it's use - intially derogatory and then adopted and embraced by those who fall under it's banner, others find the term offensive and derogatory. Websites such as Beyond Cougar argue that women should refuse to be defined by the age of the men that they date, and as such, prefer to describe themselves as 'women dating younger men'.
There are many dating websites, mature dating services and friend finder services available for people looking to meet women online, for those interested in intergenerational dating and for women dating younger men.
Statistics also show that more and more older women are not only dating younger men and embarking on relationships with them, but they are also marrying them, with statistics in the UK and USA both showing considerable increases in these age gap marriages and an overall increase in intergenerational dating.
Recently, Cougars were hitting the headlines in something of a backlash - firstly, when a so-called 'Cougar Cruise' was banned by Carnival Cruises, and again when Google took the decision to classify cougar online dating sites as 'adult content' - whilst deeming Sugar Daddy and foreign bride dating services as 'family friendly'. It appears that women dating younger men still have some way to go before being accepted as part of mainstream society.