Love them or hate them, we just can't stop talking about cougar couples. From Mariah to Vivica, there are plenty of examples of and reasons why older women choose younger men. And contrary to the media's portrayal of cougar couples as a passing trend, more and more are choosing to walk down the aisle says Linda Franklin, author of "Don't Ever Call Me, Ma'am: The Real Cougar Woman Handbook." ESSENCE.com spoke with Franklin about the advantages of dating a younger man and how cougar couples are handling marriage. Find out the age differences in our Will You Marry Me? couples. Read more: Vivica A. Fox talks about dating younger men.Puma's are the new Cougars.
Love them or hate them, we just can't stop talking about cougar couples. From Mariah to Vivica, there are plenty of examples of and reasons why older women choose younger men. And contrary to the media's portrayal of cougar couples as a passing trend, more and more are choosing to walk down the aisle says Linda Franklin, author of "Don't Ever Call Me, Ma'am: The Real Cougar Woman Handbook." ESSENCE.com spoke with Franklin about the advantages of dating a younger man and how cougar couples are handling marriage. ESSENCE.com: Are you finding that women are taking that next step and getting married to their younger boyfriends? Linda Franklin: Most definitely. I can tell you emphatically that these couples are getting married and they are happy as clams. I don't think it's a trend, I think you're going to see more and more of it and it's not just the sex and the sugar mama thing that the media loves to exploit. ESSENCE.com: Does the generational gap at all affect cougar couple marriages? Franklin: I actually did a survey recently asking cougar couples about their main relationship issues and, you know what, they were the same things that every relationship has. It's money, it's family, it's sex. A few of them said, 'Yeah, he doesn't have social graces and I have to teach him' but there wasn't anything that regular couples don't experience. For some of the couples, naturally, the family and friends on one or both sides don't really accept this kind of relationship. ESSENCE.com: Are there are more cougars now than before? Franklin: Yes, I think it's always been going on but it was more closeted because we still have a double standard: what's good for a man is not good for a woman. Men have been doing it since time began and that's okay. When it's a woman doing it, it's "Oh my God, she's a cradle robber. What's the matter with her?" So cougars have been more closeted about it but I think we began heading in a good direction because of high-profile cougars like Demi [Moore], Madonna and Mariah Carey. ESSENCE.com: Some cougars say they like younger men because they don't have the issues that older men have. So what happens when the younger man gets older and starts getting older man issues, too? Franklin: Women are really not thinking about that. What they're thinking about more is what's going to happen in 10 years when they get old. They're thinking, "Is he still going to be around? Is he still going to think I'm beautiful and sexy or is he gonna take off?" Women are certainly finding that younger men do not have as much baggage. They respect the woman more than a man their own age would, which is not great, but it happens to be the truth. ESSENCE.com: You say sometimes cougars are treated better by younger men than they are older men. Is that a generational thing? Franklin: It just might be. The roles are getting turned upside down and some of the older guys are stuck in the "what was" and they're not willing to accept that women have changing roles now. Women are definitely out in the world more. Just think, women over 40 are 50 percent of the workforce now. More women are making "want-to" choices, not "have-to" choices. And if you're secure about your finances you can certainly go out and make choices that are better for you. ESSENCE.com: So tell us, what are the advantages of being with a younger man? Franklin: The younger men do not have as much baggage. They treat the older women a lot better; they're not as critical and they're not as judgmental. These women, and I'm not saying it's all, but these real cougar women don't see themselves as old. We're redefining age, which is a really good thing. It's not just about looking good, but its taking care of our health. It's about taking care of our financial independence and our spiritual needs. We want somebody that's on board with that. A lot of cougars are starting second careers so they're really excited about that and they want someone that's there with them. A younger man is not done doing what he's in the process of doing and a cougar is not done what she's in the process of doing either, so that's very appealing. I think the sex is probably better too. A lot of men are with younger women for ego issues. I don't think it's the same for cougars, but let's be honest, what woman wouldn't want some really cool, nice, great, good-looking guy that takes care of himself on her arm? Linda Franklin is the author of "Don't Ever Call Me, Ma'am: The Real Cougar Woman Handbook." She is also the founder of therealcougarwoman.com Find out the age differences in our Will You Marry Me? couples. Read more: