A 72-year-old woman uses a cougar dating app to talk to younger men

Kelly Howard has been using Cougar Life for years.
Image courtesy of Linda

  • Kelly Howard, 72, uses a dating app to meet younger men.
  • 10 to 20 men message her every week, eager to chat or take her on a date.
  • Howard says she prefers younger men because she feels they see her as their equal.

Kelly Howard felt lonely after moving across the country from California to New Jersey at age 70, thousands of miles from friends, family and boyfriends.

So when she saw a documentary about an octogenarian woman dating younger men, a preference Howard shared, it sparked something in her.

“If this woman can have company, why can’t I?” thought Howard, whose real name Insider agreed to change for privacy reasons.

While looking into what is known as age gap dating, she came across Cougar Life, an app that connects young men with older women and created a profile.

Fast forward five years, and every week Howard said he receives messages from 10 to 20 men, mostly in their 30s and 40s, with anything from a heart emoji, a comment about his beautiful smile, or texts blunt like, “Do you have any fetishes?”

A first date will normally involve a few cocktails and she will keep it casual aside from the occasional hotel room date.

A few months ago, Howard drove an hour and a half to meet a younger guy who worked in the medical field. They had an instant connection and booked a hotel room.

“We spent the night together and it was just like, ‘oh my god,'” she said of the sweet, attentive guy with piercing blue eyes, quickly adding that she doesn’t usually sleep with men on first dates.

She might look more like Carrie Bradshaw than your average 72-year-old, but Howard isn’t the only older person who enjoys dating apps as much as someone half her age.

A Bumble spokesperson told Insider that a survey of 1,134 US adults conducted by the dating app in March showed that 71 percent of Baby Boomer respondents, aged 59 to 77, were willing to use dating apps to meet someone this year.

Isabella Mise, senior director of communications at Cougar Life, said older people are embracing modern online dating, with 15% of female users on their app over the age of 50.

“They’re still looking for connection, love, physical intimacy, and I think online dating is maybe a way to broaden their dating pool,” Mise said.

She said that as she gets older, the dating pool shrinks, particularly among social circles, so sometimes apps need to be used to open up options especially for people with specific preferences like dating younger people.

Howard tests attractive men to prove they’re real

Howard formed significant bonds with some of the men he chatted with.

Her longest fling is with a 30-something financial advisor who lives in Vancouver. He’s a five-hour flight away, so the two have never met, but they’ve been talking for five years.

His profile in which he claimed to be a “financially generous and not generous lover” caught her attention. Along with photos showing how “incredibly handsome” he was.

“This isn’t real,” she recalled thinking, and gave him various “tests” to show that she was making him write her name on his shoulder and hold up an orange balloon during video calls.

Five years later, the two have “spilled the guts” of each other.

Enclosed in the screens of their phones, a fantasy life unfolds where the two of them are together. She opens her heart to her and even suggested that they move in together.

But for now, their busy lives don’t allow for that, so Howard finds excitement in the fact that they’ve never met.

“Younger men consider me an equal”

Howard prefers dating younger men because they were raised differently from men his age, she said. Older men come with baggage: they think they know everything and should be in charge, he said.

An old boyfriend from high school still texts her, she said. He’s been married two or three times since then, but he still says he wants to be with her.

“That’s devotion,” he said, but added that he’s a stereotypical “macho” guy who’s stuck in his own ways and can’t get out of the last century.

“Younger men don’t have that attitude,” he said. “It is very pleasant that they consider you practically an equal.”

Growing up, Howard was taught that “you were the wife and you should please the boy,” so talking to these men feels like a rebellion to her: she gets to put herself first.

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