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“This isn’t about dating,” said Kevin Mercer* candidly. A.’s entertainment industry and isn’t shy discussing his city’s cougar phenomenon.

“It’s a total transactional situation.” And that works out just fine for these young men, who often prefer relationships—whether fleeting or long-term—with cougars.

The study stated that the divorce rate now, compared to when cougars were married some 25 years ago, has contributed to the amount of single, 50 women, said to be “on the prowl” in today’s dating pool.

More Fun, Less 'Baggage' For Wheeler, younger men have been a natural fit for an energetic lifestyle that her male peers have never quite matched.

“For a 70-year-old guy to go out with a 40-year-old woman, as opposed to a 70-year-old woman going out with a 40-year-old guy?

A 70-year-old woman going out with a 40-year-old guy is considered creepy.” Why the double standard?

She never analyzed her attraction to younger men (or their attraction to her), but with “cougar” an increasingly popular term used to describe older women dating much younger men, her longtime preference is suddenly in the spotlight.

She listed a string of young men with whom she had various relationships, occasionally punching numbers into a calculator to determine age differences she had never considered in the first place.

Smith figured it comes down to science: “It probably has something to do with the concentration of the species on procreation,” she quipped.

All scientific notions aside, older women opt for younger men for the same reasons that older men select younger women.

“The mentality of having a youthful person on your arm who makes you feel good, who makes you feel ageless, makes you feel desired and desirable,” Gibson said.

Statistics compiled by AARP The Magazine back up the trend.

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