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Age should not be a barrier to love and companionship.


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LifeWire -- Older woman seduces younger man. Sound familiar?

It's a scene from the coming-of-age classic "The Graduate. But high-profile Hollywood couples like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins 12 years her junior -- who met and began dating while filming an on-screen romance in the movie "Bull Durham" -- have proven that life can indeed imitate art when it comes to matters of the heart.

Theirs, however, is a real-life love story of an older woman and younger man -- something that is not so uncommon nowadays. A study by AARP revealed that 34 percent of all women over 40 in the survey were dating younger men, and 35 percent preferred it to dating older men.

Can an older woman-younger man relationship work?

At age 40, she was dating a year-old. Quite frankly, his mother made it so impossible," Winter says of the six-year relationship, which inspired her book. Hollywood in particular has defied the ageism stereotype, with celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore marrying ificantly younger men a and year age gap, respectively, with director Guy Ritchie and actor Ashton Kutcherand the public has come to accept it.

See photos of some famous May-December couples ». Moreover, says Winter, women have experienced a ificant financial and status shift over the past half-century.

Men confess: 22 reasons why younger guys fall for older women

But these relationships aren't always portrayed in a positive light. Terms like "cougar" slang for an older woman seeking a younger man depict the woman as a predator, rather than an empowered, independent and loving person.

NBC aired a reality dating show this summer -- "Age of Love" -- that pitted women in their 20s against women in their 40s in a battle for the heart of tennis star Mark Philippoussis. Meanwhile, online dating sites like GoCougar. Mary Pender, 37, a high school special education teacher in Huntington Beach, California, connected with a truck driver seven years her junior who she met on an online dating site.

Though she'd always dated older men before, she "thought it was exciting to date someone younger" -- and, as it turned out, he thought it'd be just as exciting a match. Indeed, the idea of dating an older woman is titillating for some younger guys.

10 best older women dating sites for younger men to meet cougars

Jeremy Abelson, a self-styled dating impresario who organized the Natural Selection Speed Date event that paired wealthy bachelors with beautiful women this past February in New York City, can see the appeal. And I think that's a very common fantasy for young men. The potential issues between such May-December couples are the same ones that challenge the longevity of any relationship: different long-term priorities and emotional temperament.

I was right.

Cougars and their cubs: older women dating ificantly younger men

He is the most mature and sensitive man I have ever dated. It seems that they are easier to get along with -- there is, for the most part, no drama. Older women know what they want, they usually are in a career, are financially secure and not looking for a man to take care of them.

LifeWire provides original and syndicated lifestyle content to Web publishers. Jocelyn Voo is a freelance journalist and relationships editor at the New York Post.

Story Highlights Study: 34 percent of all women over 40 in the survey were dating younger men Hollywood in particular has defied the ageism stereotype Madonna and Demi Moore have both married ificantly younger men Next Article in Living ». By Jocelyn Voo. Actress Demi Moore is 15 years older than her husband, actor Ashton Kutcher. Don't Miss I-Report: How did your relationship overcome the odds? Kutcher: Ladies, here's how to flatter your man.

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Older women and younger men: can it work?

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