A puma is more than a sleek feline predator!
It’s also a slang term for a woman’s dating life and, more specifically, the age of the partner she seeks. There are definitely some ageist and sexist connotations to the term, so let’s take a look at what it’s been used to refer to and how it’s evolved over time.
Demi Moore, in an interview with W magazine in March 2010 (at age 47), expressed her displeasure with the cougar label and said, “I’d prefer to be called a puma,” referring to her (now defunct) marriage to Ashton Kutcher who is 16 years younger than Moore.
Despite Moore’s attempt to use the terms interchangeably, a puma is widely regarded as a woman under 40 who prefers younger men while the cougar label is applied to women in their 40s and 50s who seek out younger male companions who are at least 10 years younger and often half their age.
While May-December romances involving older men with younger women are par for the course, there is often a double standard when it comes to older women dating younger men, even when those women are just in their 30s, hence the development of terms like “puma” to call (negative) attention to it. For example, actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler caught a lot of public flak when she announced her engagement. Sigler was 31 and her beau was 23.
Cougar is a slang term for a woman who seeks romantic or sexual relationships with significantly younger men, women or both. The origin of the word cougar as a slang term is debated, but it is thought to have originated in Western Canada and first appeared in print on the Canadian dating website
With five marriages under her belt, Valerie Gibson is an expert on failed relationships. She is also a self-described “Cougar,” her term for older women who date younger men. (“Pumas” are younger women dating older men—really, I’m not making this up.) “It’s all about being confident, sexy, and absolutely uninterested in commitment or children,“ says the New York Post, describing Gibson’s new book: Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men.
The book contains such invaluable advice as carry condoms in your purse, try not to have more than three martinis on a first date , think short term, and dress sexy . For older women who have managed to date for years without this information, Cougar is a must-read.