DATING IS A BITCH

That Time I Was a Cougar

I have always dated younger men.

For 20 years, I was married to a younger man. After that, I got involved with another younger man. Even in high school, I dated younger boys. Why? No clue. Maybe it’s a sign of my maturity level.

Maybe I’m young for my age. Yes–pretty sure that’s it.

Or maybe it’s my way of rebelling against the aging process.

But–and this is a big but–I have never aspired to be a cougar. Nothing against women who do, it’s just not my style.

Then I met Tinder.

For the record, Tinder’s a what, not a who. This new “dating” (read: hook-up) app is all the rage, and it’s basically a “hot or not” kind of thing. I was curious to try it when my coworker raved about it after a bachelorette party she attended. So one night I downloaded it and started swiping–left for “not interested” and right for “you’re hot.”

The way it works: If you swipe someone right and they do the same to you, you become a “match.” You can then start texting each other on the app and decide where to take things from there.

Since I’m not into hook-ups I was hesitant. But as soon as I matched with a hot 42-year-old Persian smiling broadly at me from my mobile screen, my attitude changed. This was fun and easy, albeit a bit shallow, and the “Congratulations! You have a match” message was a bit like winning the bonus round on a slot machine–it gave me nice buzz of adrenaline.

Within seconds of matching with the hot Persian, he sent me a message. I don’t remember what he said, but I do know that about four texts into our conversation he asked me out for a glass of wine. No wasting time with online witty banter, we were heading straight to face-to-face.

I freaked. I literally threw my phone on my bed like it was a fucking viper. He wants to hook up. 

“A glass of wine? Hmmm. What’s that code for?” I eventually texted him back.

“It’s code for, um . . . a glass of wine,” he answered.

Ok, I felt stupid. I thought, Why am I being so cynical? Maybe there are genuine guys on this app who truly want to meet a woman for more than sex. Because, you know, when a man says so, it must be true. Obviously.

So I agreed. We lived in the same area and met at a wine bar between our houses where we had a few flights of red and talked for two hours. It was . . . awkward. Something was definitely off. He was hot, just as his Tinder pictures promised. A criminal defense attorney, which should have been interesting but wasn’t. And he was weirdly nervous, which struck me funny. A 42-year-old lawyer with several years in the courtroom and yet he can barely make eye contact with me and even feign a little interest in my life? Either he sucks at his job or he’s a brilliant actor when he needs to be.

But I hadn’t kissed a man since Max in Rome, so I overlooked the “something is off” vibe, concentrated on his gorgeous olive skin and dark eyes, and agreed to a long make out sesh in the parking lot after the wine.

Two things: I have a dangerous tendency to ignore a “something is off” vibe. I’m a master at it. Which is probably why I have so many fucked-up date stories up my sleeve. And making out in a parking lot like you’re 16 again can be super hot.

What happened next? He asked me to come back to my place (ah, there’s that hook-up part), I politely said, “not tonight,” and we made plans to see each other again.

And then I consulted Google–every girl’s best friend when it comes to vetting her dates. I entered his name, and what popped up in the search results explained that “something is off vibe” immediately. My hot Persian wasn’t 42. Not even close.

He’d graduated from high school in 2003, and it didn’t take long to do the math.

My hot Persian was 28. Wanna know another kicker? He still lived with his parents. Thank you, Google.

This took my affinity for younger men to a whole new level. I mean, there was a whole decade between us. No–two. Two decades younger? Lives with his parents? Can’t do it. Won’t do it. Not a cougar. 

He texted, asked me out again, and I agreed. Clearly I could do it.

The rest of the details aren’t that interesting. The age issue came up (he confessed), we got together again, he was obviously interested in a hook-up–again–and I realized quickly that cougar status was not for me. When you can’t get the fact that your love interest could be your son out of your head, it’s time to move on.

I let the hot Persian go, as well as my brief stint as a cougar, and vowed to stick within about 10 years of my own age for future prospects. Does that sound judgey of women who do dip down into the younger end of the dating pool? I don’t mean for it to. I just know me–and a hot body and beautiful face are only going to hold my interest for a very short time. I need confidence, eye contact, interesting conversation, and frankly, some witty banter, even if it’s just via texts for a short while.

There is nothing sexier to me than a man with a compelling sense of humor who likes to spar with fun, clever verbal jabs–and my hot Persian was not witty nor did he like to banter. He just wanted to fuck me. When you’re not into hook-ups, that becomes a problem.

I’ve since seen him on Tinder, listed as 38, 41, 39 and 42. The dude just can’t be 28, which sucks for him. Soon enough, he’ll be those other ages and wonder why the hell he ever lied and how does he get back to 28 again.

I, on the other hand, came away embracing my 40-somethingness. I love my age. I love who I am at my age. And I’m not gonna lie, I love that a man two decades younger wanted to fuck me.

But I also love men who appreciate and value a woman for more than her ability to accommodate his male parts. They may be few and far between on Tinder, but I believe those men are out there somewhere.

And even in my 40-somethingness, I can wait.

 

-Sienna