For celebrities such as Caroline Flack and Kate Beckinsale, being called a ‘cougar’ has become a badge of honour.
Now a scientific study of the phenomenon reveals that older women are having to prowl for toy boys because men their own age are chasing younger lovers.
Middle-aged women also say youthful partners are more enthusiastic and attentive, while men of their own generation are ‘suspicious’ or ‘judgmental’ of women who are confident in bed.
Dr Milaine Alarie of the National Institute of Scientific Research in Montreal, Canada, interviewed 55 ‘cougars’ aged between 30 and 60 and found evidence that younger men prefer assertive and confident partners after having ‘disappointing experiences with women of their own age’.
Cougar is a honour: Caroline is happy to be dubbed the nickname after having a string of younger lovers.
Actress Kate Beckinsale is also a fan of dating younger lads – more and more women are following in her footsteps as middle age men look for younger women
Cosying up: Kate, 45, enjoying spending time with US comedian boyfriend Pete Davidson, 25
Singer Harry Styles is one of a number of younger men who have dated the TV presenter Caroline Flack
She said: ‘The women described younger men as more attentive to their desires and as putting more energy than older men into ensuring women were enjoying themselves.
‘In contrast, very few women talked about men their own age or older as showing the same level of awe or appreciation for women who can play an active role in bed and express their sexual desires.
‘For many of the women in their 40s and 50s, younger men’s enthusiasm for them felt like a pleasant contrast to middle- aged men’s perceived disinterest for dating women in their own age bracket.’
More than two-thirds of the women she interviewed aged over 40 thought younger men in their 20s and early 30s fantasised about older women.
Her study into what is technically called ‘age-hypogamous intimate relationships’ was published in the Journal Of Sex Research.