Despite the fact that a network television show and a dating site exist in testament to the non-mythological nature of cougars, Dalhousie University professor Marina Adshade still let her douchey male friend insist over dinner that the only men she, a well-educated, gainfully employed, forty-something woman, could hope to attract with her desiccated uterus were men who could take her to a matinee on their senior discounts.
Adshade then scoured the web for empirical evidence that her dating prospects weren't so grim or superannuated and fortunately found a groundbreaking Berkley study of the Yahoo! Personals, proving with fancy numbers that older men looking for much younger women generally have a skewed view of the dating market, and educated, well-off women have more dating options. In case your mind has been totally blown, here's Adshade's sober analysis of the phenomenon of the "Toyboy" (younger man dating an older women) phenomenon:
They [the authors of a new economics paper] argue that the significant increase in "Toyboy" relationships since 1980 (ones in which a older woman married a younger man) has been driven by the increase in female educational attainment relative to that of men. It seems that given increases in women's earning potential some men, at least, are willing to forgo having a younger wife in favor finding an economically successful older woman who can provide them with financial stability.
It's nice that as women win more professional success for themselves, the less likely they are to date older men, but Adshade goes through an awful lot of trouble to prove that her dinner companion has overestimated the allure of his middle-aged virility by parading out data indicating that men within a limited sample don't go for women 15-20 years younger than they are, only about 5 years younger. To illustrate this point, she writes,
So for example, a woman who is exactly 44 (like me) will attract men who are between the ages of 45 and 52, with the average age of a man who is interested in her being 49 years old.
Through a collection of anecdotal evidence from her "veteran online dater" friends, Adshade does offer something that's genuinely interesting if only in an I-knew-it sort of way: the men who routinely seek out much younger women can expect to repel all women for their general creepiness. So, now, thanks to Adshade, we have the irresistible combination of anecdotal and empirical evidence to prove that people who are different ages date each other and that nobody likes a creepy old man.