The rise of the cougar

One in three over 40s are looking for a toyboy: thanks to celebrities such as Demi Moore - married to Ashton Kutcher, 15 years her junior - it's never been more socially acceptable to have a youger lover, a survey has revealed...

Thanks to celebrities such as Demi Moore – married to Ashton Kutcher, 15 years her junior – it’s never been more socially acceptable to have a toyboy, a survey has revealed.

The proportion of older women who admit to considering a younger lover has quadrupled – back in 2005, just 8 per cent of single women in their 40s and 50s said they would date a man five or more years their junior. Today, more than a third said they would consider a younger man, heralding the rise of the ‘cougar‘.

The survey of 4,500 singles by online dating service Parship found that 34 per cent of women in their 40s and 50s would consider dating a younger man. Parship’s dating expert, psychiatrist Dr Victoria Lukats, said: ‘For many women, their priority becomes finding a partner with whom they are compatible, irrespective of age.’

Current television programmes in the US reflect this trend: CBS has launched the sitcom Accidentally on Purpose about an ambitious, thirtysomething movie critic named Billie (Jenna Elfman) whose fling with a guy in his 20s leads to pregnancy.

Not to be outdone, ABC bigwigs introduced Cougar Town, a studio-audience-free comedy featuring former Friends star Courteney Cox as an amorous divorcee looking for love with men a few years older than her teenage son.

Other celebrity couples making the age-gap work include Madonna, 51 and Jesus Luz, 23. Sam Taylor-Wood, Mariah Carey and Dannii Minogue are also all dating or married to younger men.

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