Debunking the Cougar Myth

When I was 15, I went to a New Year’s Eve party and kissed the cutest boy there when the clock struck midnight. He had blonde hair that swooshed to the side and, if I remember correctly, he was wearing a turtleneck (it was 2008). 

At the time, I was a sophomore in high school, and I was incredibly self-conscious about who I kissed and how cool they were. Call me shallow, but I had read one too many Cosmo articles at that point in my life, and my awkward stage was peaking. We talked for a while after the initial make-out, and he told me that he thought I was pretty. We exchanged numbers, and the next day I called my friends with excitement at the prospect of a new boyfriend, because that’s how things worked back then. 

It was on the phone with a close friend when I learned some news that shocked and appalled me. He was a freshman. A tiny little 14-year-old freshman who wouldn’t be 15 until the summer, when I would be 16 and clearly well on my way to adulthood. I panicked, and swore to myself that I would never make out with another freshman again. Ironically enough, this freshman ended up being my boyfriend until two weeks before my 20th birthday. But the stigmas attached to dating a younger boy followed me throughout the relationship and afterward, when I found myself equally attracted to younger partners as to people my own age.

There is clearly a double standard in regards to heterosexual relationships, sexual and romantic, when it comes to age. One can only hope this will cease to exist after college. A first-year woman hooking up with a sophomore or junior man isn’t given a second thought. If said first-year girl is sexually involved with a senior man, some might question his actions. But from what I’ve seen, very few would consider it unusual. When I was a first-year in college dating a senior in high school, or a junior in college sleeping with a first-year in college, people looked at me with disgust. My mother asked me when I was going meet a “nice older boy.” 

In my opinion, if someone is of legal age and likes the same YouTube videos and ice cream flavors that you do, and you also happen to find each other damn sexy, then why not go for it? In regards to college hook-ups and relationships specifically, the largest age gap you are likely to find is around four or five years, and when considering some older adult couples, this doesn’t seem like much.

The arguments I have heard against being a cougar (and it’s hardly that when you are sleeping with someone within two or three years of your age) are that men mature emotionally at a slower pace than women and therefore relationships aren’t equal, and that it is always better to sleep with someone who is experienced. Both of these claims are myths that should be debunked. Emotional maturity is entirely dependent upon the individual, and if someone is able to fully consent to sex, feels comfortable with whatever dynamic has been established, and you like hanging out with them, then there’s no problem! 

Also, as I had the pleasure (literally) of learning, age and experience are not necessarily correlated either. The last two younger men who I slept with could go all night,
were excellent big spoons, and were extremely “cliterate” (see last week’s
column). They might have been lacking chest hair, but needless to say multiple
orgasms were had. Both of these partners had been in long-term relationships at one point
in their lives, and I have discovered that this is far more indicative than age
or number of sexual partners when it comes to being great in bed.

While stigmas around age difference
and sex in college do exist, don’t let this stop you! As long as you are safe
and mindful of power dynamics, there should be nothing standing between you and
that cute first-year you’ve been making eyes at all semester.

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