An interview with Claudia Opdenkelder, founder and CEO of Cougar Life.
Calling all fans of The Graduate! If you're a cute little cat who has always dreamt of frolicking with an older, more seasoned kitty, prance on over to CougarLife.com. The site aims to connect the dots for "cubs" and "cougars" looking for a May/December romance. The site now has over 1.4 million members, and membership is evenly split between cougars and cubs.
We chatted with Cougar Life president Claudia Opdenkelder — who is almost 40 and engaged to a 26-year-old man — and found out why she thinks an older woman and younger man are the perfect pairing.
YourTango: How does the site work?
Claudia Opdenkelder: It's free to join and you can send up to three messages for free. If you have a really great profile and members contact you, you can continue to converse back and forth without purchasing a membership. But in order to browse other members and send more then three personal messages, you have to sign up. It's $29 a month for a three-month membership or $40 per month.
How did you get the idea to start it?
There was a local radio contest in Toronto in 2005, called the Ms. Cougar Contest. I entered and won. I'm also in a wonderful relationship with a man 14 years younger then me. We just bought a house together and he recently proposed, so it's not a fly by night kind of a relationship.
How did you meet?
We met on a Facebook, actually. I run a promotions company, and we're always looking for male models for special events. He applied and I asked him out and we've been dating ever since.
How do you explain away the stigma of cougars and cubs?
Dating in general is very individual. I get the stigma of being the cougar and my boyfriend gets the label of being the boy toy, but he's not. He's an old soul. As much as I don't want to be judged by my age, neither does he. We're just bringing people together on the site, there doesn't have to be a specific age difference.
What are some of the benefits of older women dating younger men?
Well, older women know what they want and know what they're getting into. Younger men have a zest for life, minus some of the baggage of older guys like divorces and kids. A lot of the cougars on our site are divorced themselves and might be looking for something fun.
Do you think starting a family is an issue for people who meet on the site? Perhaps a cub will want kids?
Well, children is something that all couples should discuss. Perhaps if a woman falls in love with a cub he may eventually want kids. My boyfriend and I have been discussing having a family, and it has never been part of my plans. People should discuss these things before they get into a serious relationship. I have a girlfriend who met a guy wtih three kids—sometimes you think your dreams are one way and it turns into another.
Any Cougar Life success stories?
A friend of mine, a 37-year-old woman who recently got divorced, met a 27-year-old on the site. They're looking for houses now. She's always thanking me. That's the best part about creating Cougar Life…it's a win-win for the men and the women, and I help them find each other.
Post sponsored by CougarLife.com.