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Alright, so the title’s misleading. I am not technically a cougar, at least not according to Urban Dictionary. Cougars are on the prowl looking to bed a young dude. I, however, am looking for friendship first and foremost. A sexual relationship would just be the icing on the cake.

I have been known to get offended when a young, new Tinder match messages me asking if I’m a cougar. I obviously say no. Personality and chemistry are much more important than age.

I never intended to date much younger guys. It happened by chance.

I initially set my desirable age range on OK Cupid and Tinder as 34-48. Ten years younger wasn’t cougar-ish, was it? Plus, I am usually mistaken for a late- 20-something or early- 30-something so this wasn’t such a stretch. I couldn’t see myself going higher than age 48, though. Older than that and the guys just looked and acted old. I’m embarrassed to admit that and don’t want to sound like an age-ist… but it’s true in most cases.

Geez, I’m a terrible person.

But then, in October, I was contacted by The Blond Mandarin on OK Cupid. He was 28. I initially had reservations about dating someone so young but then, in the spirit of fun, said ‘Fuck it. Why not?’

I asked how he found me on OK Cupid. He has A-List paid membership and, therefore, could do advanced searches. He said he did a search on Mandarin speakers in San Francisco. I was one of 7 women in his search results. He said I was cute and he liked older women so he messaged me.

He speaks fluent Mandarin. The young, blond haired guy from Kentucky speaks fluent Mandarin! He majored in Asian Studies and Business in college, then lived and worked in China for two years. I was floored. I knew only elementary, travel-related Mandarin after studying the language for 18 months… and only the pinyin version. He, on the other hand, obviously knew how to read and write Chinese characters.

He said, “We should meet for beers and Chinese food.”

Our first date, though, was spur-of-the-moment. I had a date cancel and so I contacted The Blond Mandarin earlier in the day, asking if he wanted to meet up for beers that night. He said yes.

I was a little agitated because he was 20 minutes late. He worked late that night and came straight from the office… arriving at the bar at 10:20. While on his way, he kept texting me his ETA. I told him he owed me a drink.

We hit it off. The sparks only grew hotter as we sat there in the bar, talking and swigging beer. By the end of the evening, we were in constant touchy contact. His hand on my leg, my hand on his arm.

And so began a tumultuous, red hot fling. He was expressive. He constantly told me how “wonderful” I was, how cute I was, how hot I was, how he loved my style. His laugh and enthusiasm were contagious. He was witty and had a great sense of humor. He was incredibly intelligent. He was the best cuddle partner I’ve ever had.

And he’d call me. He’d actually CALL ME just to chat! Yes, I was living in 2014, not the 1980s. It was touching, retro, and so sweet.

I was crazy about him.

But… he was also moody. Our 6-week fling ended abruptly and oddly. That’s a post for another time, though.

Meeting The Blond Mandarin made me realize that 20-somethings were pretty awesome. I lowered my lower age limit to age 26. I was shocked at the sheer number of 28 year olds I matched with on Tinder. I was dating two other 28 year olds at the same time as The Blond Mandarin. (All three lived within two blocks of each other – what are the odds of that?!)

Turns out most men on Tinder that I’ve since matched with are 28-30 years old. And I immediately noticed a few commonalities that set them apart from their late 30-something and 40-something counterparts: 1) They are chattier, 2) They are more available, and 3) They are generally more responsive with text communications.

What’s not to like?! I am a fan.

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