By Cyndi Targosz
She walked into the Borders Bookstore on the Vegas strip - petite, pretty and all of 25. I was promoting my latest published book, Dating the Younger Man.This young woman was a local reporter anxious to interview me after hearing about my philosophy of ageless love on National Public Radio (NPR). Her enthusiasm impressed me as she asked question after question while recording my passionate responses. Ready to wrap, she snatched a copy of my book and vehemently stated, "I'm going to read this ASAP and try out your program this weekend. I just met a younger Boy Toy and can personally use the advice." I thought, "Is she joking? Could this young lady consider herself an OLDER WOMAN?" I could not wait to read her review. You see my work on this book uncovered something bigger than I had imagined.
I'd heard all the research from AARP, read the online polls, and seen the media frenzy about older women dating younger men. Clearly, many women 40 and up are choosing younger men. However, I'm the kind of person who asks a lot of questions and has to get to the bottom of everything. The "Cyndi Sleuth" in me felt compelled to do my own research. I wanted to hear from men and women who were or had been in relationships where the man was younger - married or single. No limits were placed on the age of the respondents nor did I specify how big the age difference needed to be. The woman just had to be older. First I conducted live interviews. Then I sent out an anonymous cyber survey encouraging my data base to pass it on to others. Faster than you can download an mp3 tune my inbox was full with nearly 1000 replies. I knew that I would hear from many women in their 40's and up but did not expect a whopping 20 percent of the women to be in their late 20's and 30's. After reading their responses I concluded that these women are still experiencing the same dating double standards that their older counterparts (40+) experience. Being stereotyped as a "predator" was a common complaint. I was even more surprised to find out that women in their 20's consider themselves - THE OLDER WOMAN! Admittedly, this was a non-scientific survey but the results make me ponder, why do we still have negative notions about age that prevent women from experiencing love or even companionship?
Now back to the 25 year old reporter. Professionally I was delighted with her glowing review. However, I could not help but feel a little sadness as I read her words about feeling inherently un-pretty dating a "younger" 20 year old man. There in print was further proof of what my cyber survey suggested - the dating double standard still exists even for young women. Perhaps more standardized research needs to be done. To the mental health community, the media and to the masses I welcome your feedback. Together we can change this inherently un-pretty discovery. I have hope.
Cyndi Targosz is a Certified Lifestyle Counselor, Comedic Actress, Celebrity Image Consultant and the bestselling author of 5 published books including the just released DATING THE YOUNGER MAN (Adams Media), TEN MINUTE TONE-UPS FOR DUMMIES (Wiley), and YOUR BEST BUST (Sourcebooks). She specializes in issues of body image, self esteem, dating, fashion and health. You can visit her site www.starglow.com