Love, Self

7 Secrets You Never Knew About Cougars (As Written By One)

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cougar dating

Hello, my name is KarenLee and I am a cougar. It sounds like I belong in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but I assure you that a cougar is not a person with an addiction to younger men. I'm also not referring to a wild animal found in the Andes.

What is a cougar? I think of a cougar as a self-sufficient, confident, young-spirited woman who happens to like younger men. And when it comes to cougar dating, there are plenty of options for cougar women to find men who enjoy something a little different.

RELATED: Should Women Actually Date Younger Men?

I'm a widow with three children. When my husband passed away, I was 48 years old and had been married for 24 years. I had no clue what the singles world would be like, but after six months, I decided it was time to find out. I went to a bar and realized that the majority of guys who approached me were under the age of 35.

I soon found out this wasn't an anomaly; it happened every time. I didn't approach the guys — they hit on me!

At first I laughed about it to my friends, but then I came to the realization that maybe this wasn't such a bad thing. I was still grieving from the loss of my husband, and not looking for a serious relationship.

The guys were smart, funny and upbeat. They had good hair, straight teeth and were physically fit. They actively listened to me and genuinely enjoyed my company. This started my journey into the world of cougar dating.

After many dates with younger men and being in a four-year committed relationship with a man 15 years my junior, I feel that I have earned the title of "Cougar Coach." Here are seven secrets about cougar women you may not know.

1. Cougars take pride in their appearance.

They exercise on a regular basis. Cougars wear sexy clothing and exude energy. They may have some stretch marks and a little extra padding, but they fight the gravitational pull of aging. You won't see many gray-haired cougars.

They feel comfortable in their own skin. They may wear more animal print and low-cut blouses than their younger counterparts. Cougars have great posture and understand body language. When a cougar enters a room, people notice her.

2. Cougars have confidence and ooze self-esteem.

They have high social intelligence and know how to communicate their needs. They are comfortable demanding respect from a man of any age. Cougars are not afraid of being alone and can entertain themselves.

Cougars don't depend on men for their happiness or to feel complete. They aren't needy and this quality is what frequently attracts younger men. They aren't looking for a husband and their biological clock isn't running out of time.

3. Cougars are financially self-sufficient.

They don't expect to be wined and dined by men. They like material possessions but don't rely on men to purchase them. If they want to go to a restaurant, theater, or sporting event, they'll be comfortable making arrangements on their own.

RELATED: 10 Myths About Dating Older Women (Straight From The Cougar's Mouth)

4. Cougars are spontaneous.

They stay out late and may be the last to leave a party. They have to be flexible with the younger man's last minute plans and inability to commit in advance. Cougars know how to have a good time.

5. Cougars enjoy time in the bedroom.

Younger men are keenly aware that older women have years of experience and know how to please them. Their confidence in the bedroom is a big reason for the attraction. A cougar isn't shy and communicates her sexual needs to her younger guy.

6. Cougars have to be able to handle the stigma of being a cougar.

Mrs. Robinson didn't help the situation by perpetuating the myth of the younger man as the innocent victim of the perverted older woman. Demi Moore paved the way for the older woman/younger man marriage, yet there is still a long road ahead for society to be accepting of the relationship.

Cougars need to be comfortable with judgmental people who make snide comments about them. It's sometimes difficult for children and parents of the couple to accept the unconventional nature of the relationship.

7. Cougars can have viable relationships with younger men.

These relationships may begin as "friends with benefits," but grow into something much deeper. A large age gap places the couple in different stages of life, and complications are inevitable. For example: The younger man may want children and the older woman doesn't, or the established older woman may not want to put her life on hold while the younger man struggles with his career.

On the plus side, women tend to live longer than men, so it makes sense to be with a younger man to have the same life span. There's no denying the older woman/younger man obstacles are tough, but what relationship doesn't have issues to work through?

Bottom line: Cougars are strong, independent women who know what turns them on. If they are attracted to a younger man, and the affection is reciprocated, what's the harm? Age is a number and love has no boundaries.

RELATED: Everything You Need To Know About The Male Version Of Cougars

Cougar Coach KarenLee Poter hosts an internet talk show called LoveEncore.