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Older woman, younger man: Benefits and pitfalls

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Are you a cougar?

Men want a woman who is grounded, confident and mature -- but they often can't find that in their own age bracket. On the flip side, women want a man who is ambitious, attentive and attractive. Given those variables, it's only logical that the older woman-younger man relationship can actually work. Here are some ways "cougars" and their "cubs" can make love last.

The pitfalls

1Commitment

If you enter a relationship with a younger man and he has made it clear that it's just casual — don't ever expect it to be anything more. Many younger men are not interested in a long-term relationship yet. If you fall in love and he's just in it for sex, you are going to get hurt.

2Money

A younger man may not have the financial stability that you are used to in men that you date. Be wary if he always wants you to pay for dinner or asks you to buy him things. Unless you are looking to be a "sugar mama," don't let yourself be used for money. Though in any relationship, you don't need to be on the exact same level economically or socially to make it work. As long as you communicate well and are on the same page about what you want out of the relationship, you have a shot at success.

3Stigma

Even if you aren't a predatory cougar -- that is, a woman who hunts down young men and has her way with them sexually without any longer-term goal -- people may assume you are when they hear about your relationship. Therefore, be aware that some friends, family members and associates may judge you. But remember: If you and your partner are satisfied, don't allow yourself to get caught up in the gossip and stigma of being a cougar.

Get past the hang-ups

Women don't need to marry men just to survive economically anymore. Therefore if you are attracted to a younger man, don't be hung up on his age.

"For a long time we've been fed this idea that women should look for a man to take care of her, a man that is more educated, has a better job and makes more money," Sandra L Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine, told the New York Times. "That might be fine and dandy if you're in high school and have this fairytale Prince Charming. But when you look at adult women, most are self-sufficient and they don't have to look for that."

When looking for a partner (whether for a casual relationship or something more), keep your mind open as to what is the right type of guy for you. Let friends know you're okay with a younger guy in case they want to set you up -- and on online dating sites, expand the age range for potential matches. You may find happiness where you least expect it.

Believe me, the older woman-younger man relationship can be very satisfying and long-lasting. My husband is 14 years my junior, and we've been married for eight amazing years.

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