Gibson feels that, beyond the fun of Cougar, her book is about empowering women of a certain age to keep reaching for the brass ring and that reaching 35 -- or 45, 55, 65 or more -- doesn't mean you should give up your sexuality, your vibrancy or your ability to have fun. Now it should be pointed out that, for men, that's not always the case. You can have health problems when you're young, too. I guess I always thought that: You're not great with children. It's also on the Canoe Web site so I get letters from all over the world. They might look at you and think: What the hell does she want? There's so much fear and confusion in the relationship world. And not expecting all of them to turn into the great relationship. I had to almost basically get married to get out of the house. We did cohabit for six years before we married but... And I would have had two marriages, just like everybody else. Though "empowerment," Gibson insists, is not the right word. Never came out, if that's the word, for someone to say: Yes, I'm having a relationship with a younger man and I want everyone to know. And I guess that's one of the arguments for younger men. But you can go through mid-life and have some health problems. It is an awful lot of problems as a lot of the letters I get are from people struggling with divorces and broken relationships where there's children and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and anger, bitterness and all that. People get so angry, so bitter that they can't see the reality or the light or be kind or anything. And once a month I do a chatroom thing on sex and relationships. Everybody is looking for the one great relationship. Only prostitutes lived in apartments or had careers or whatever.
In fact there are more books out on incest -- can you believe that? They haven't got what the modern world takes in order to be valuable to society. They are valuable and older women today go into their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s looking fantastic. In my opinion you're of more value and I try and tell women that. I'm already in a situation that is pretty beneficial if you're thinking along those lines, but even before I did this job, I never had a problem meeting men. And I was never afraid to go up and talk to a guy who was on his own and even years ago I would ring the guy and say: How are you doing? One of the reasons: they don't give a damn that you earn more money than they do.
I wrote a book 10 years ago on a similar subject and you'd think I'd written something about incest. [Laughs] You know, it's not a question that as you age you're of less value.
Their attitudes are very stale and they're often jaded by life. [Laughs] Because I'm quite a bit older than that age group. And finally they let me write up dog shows and baby shows and funerals, you know. And it's no good giving a stock answer: What you're doing is wrong, therefore you should do this. And our experiences seem to change a great deal, but often don't very much at all. Humans don't change: they want to be cherished, they want to be loved. And also the problem is they expect it to happen like that [she snaps her fingers]. [Laughs] Well, hello: you're not going to be able to date Mel Gibson. And I know a lot about people and relationships because I went out there and did it. They're intelligent and they really have that essence of vitality about them. I'm sure some of our readers would want to know: Where are you meeting all these guys? I'm not sure that a lot of young women really like men. They want a home or they want a family or they want some money or they want a lifestyle. And men and relationships -- or getting relationships -- is a lot of work. Do your attitudes strain your relationships with other women? Funnily enough, and I don't know why it is, but I have as many women friends and fans as I do men, because I like women too. That you can [spend time] with a man you have no intention of having a relationship with or dating and have a lovely, lovely evening. Is there underlying sexuality always in a male/female relationship? I've told these women when they write and say: Well, I go out with my friends and we never meet guys. Go out with one friend or go out on your own and you'll meet whoever you like because they won't go into a group.
But if you feel it's right for you, you should do it." Gibson could be the poster girl for her book. Why not look further and have further dating options in different age groups? They don't often look in their own age group although I've seen that happening more. I'm kind of out of the age group, but still cougaring. She doesn't write from experience, let me tell you. Which has not been wise and that is not the North American way! Have they been through that and felt the angers themselves? They're not prepared anymore to marry someone just to be secure or just take anybody because they're a certain age or they're not pretty or this or that. When I look back on my five husbands -- or four [of the five] anyway, for sure -- they're all still in the same spot I left them in.
At 62, and with five marriages behind her, The Toronto Sun's relationship columnist exudes a frank and friendly sexuality that she is, if anything, quite proud of. "Because I'm quite a bit older than that age group. So older women are coming to the conclusion: if it works for them, it works for us. I think the cougars often are much more youthful than their age group. You're now at the Toronto Sun and your beat is relationships? It was the first newspaper column in Canada to do sex and relationships by a woman. Because my book came out, the old one [Younger Men: How to Find Them, Date Them, Mate Them & Marry Them] had been out for a while. Have they been approached by a young man absolutely determined to get you into bed? They have a list and they say: Why can't I have all those good things? sometimes it's the most unlikely person that is the perfect person for you. Whereas I've long [since] moved on into at least three more careers or whatever.
I tend to say I'm an older cougar teaching younger cougars the tricks." Linda Richards: When I saw the title of your book I laughed and I thought it was fun, but the term "cougar" hasn't always been meant in such flattering terms. They are very vital and very active and very sensual and they tend to have groups of friends that are younger and their minds work better with younger. In fact, I don't think any paper had ever allowed anything other than Ann Landers' advice. Which shook up my editor-in-chief horribly at the time. I was fashion editor at The Sun for 12 years and my editor-in-chief said to me: What are you doing writing fashion? Until recently there were really only three women sex columnists in the whole of North America. Have they been in a threesome at some point in their wild life? And the answer was no: they're doing everything from books. The men, everybody is caught up on the movies and everything, they all want a gorgeous gal that looks like this and that even though they may not in a million years be able to do that. One could argue that, five marriages in, you would seem to be an unlikely advocate for relationships. [Laughs] But yes, some people say to me: Well, what would you know about marriage because you hop in and out of them? I've learned a lot from it and I intend to give compassionate advice based on the knowledge that I remember when I did this and it went wrong. I'm always developing: not necessarily growing, but developing into something else and trying something else. I love their conversation and I love their little macho ways and I just love all that. Today, I think, [young] women don't like men: they like their girlfriends better. It's easier, it's not so stressful, they don't have to be this, that or the other. Because friendship is an asexual thing: it's neither male nor female. You can have a great friendship with a girlfriend and you can have a great friendship with a male but with a male sometimes at some point there is something.
Valerie Gibson: In the old days they weren't known as cougars and [were] never nicely known. I find for my age group [the men are] all too set in their ways, they're not up-to-date, they're not with it, you know, they're not willing to try new things. and I wrote very much from a personal point of view: Experience. You should be writing this stuff, this is what we want. There was myself, one in Playboy, I believe and in Details, maybe. People today say: Well, they don't know the stresses, the pressures and how different it is to be dating now or being out there in the relationship world. I know it's not always true, but I'm real big on the commonalties of humans and general human experience. In other words, the expectation level has upped enormously due to indoctrination, if you like, by media in my opinion. And I say: I know an awful lot about marriage because I've been in so many of them. And you could try this: It might go wrong, but I know what it's like. And that is, I think, one of the things about older women and younger men: It's not just older women. Older women who are full of life are the ones that attract younger men. I mean, I get asked out on dates by older men, mid-life men and really older men. And I think, going back to what you said about dating, I think that is a problem these days. They can say anything they want, they don't have to play games. I can spend an evening with a man I have no intention of dating and this is something young women haven't learned. That is a big question: I've written columns on it... There are some that say: No, we've never thought about sex. And going back to what you said about dating today: I think women today are definitely moving more into girlfriend friendships. And men say to me: Well, they're out in their group, how the heck do I get to meet anyone?
At first take Cougar: A Guide For Older Women Dating Younger Men seems frivolous and perhaps even sexist. An older woman does not usually want children; she's probably got a couple. Doesn't want to do it again and may not even want marriage. -- than there is on this subject: older women dating younger men. They have everything: they have experience, they have knowledge, sophistication, they've learned so much, sexual skills particularly, when it comes to younger men. One of [the things I hear most in letters] is from guys who fear being rejected and they hate rejection. Dating includes rejection at every level, every age group no matter how beautiful you are. I've done my bit for marriage and the wedding cake business and all, I've done my bit. What I want now is someone who is supportive and can live with a media gal like myself. I'm out there on TV and doing many things and a lot of guys get competitive about that.
Do we, in this enlightened age, even need to spend time thinking about such things? Older man, younger woman and younger man, older woman. I find that horrifying because this is two single people enjoying each other, enjoying an alternative relationship, as they're known today -- and yet they're condemned for it. These are important things and they're misused by society [when women are] told they're not valuable. [Laughs] And they enjoy it [perhaps] more than younger people, because they know so much more. I just read somewhere that Brad Pitt got dumped by his first girlfriend. You can now: you can co-habit and nobody bothers about it. There was one husband, it was the second, I think, his parents said either we married or they cut him out of the will.
Haven't we passed the era when an older woman with a younger man will attract shocked comments and glances? [Laughs] Put it up in lights: I'm dating 20 years younger, aren't I clever and everybody would applaud and celebrate that. This whole book is geared towards boosting older women's self-esteem. Also they're told that older people don't have sex or are not supposed to have sex. They've learned so much more: what they want, what other people want. This is another thing older women are told: Oh, when you get to a certain age you'll hit this and -- bang! I have women say to me: Oh, when I get to that age I won't want sex anymore, will I? People don't understand that at all and, for her, obviously, that relationship didn't work. well, in my day you see that's what you did: You married. He was everything the magazines said: six foot tall and handsome and a sweet person. And they were quite wealthy and he was quite worried so we got married. I'm dating two or three nice guys of all age groups.
According to Valerie Gibson, the relationships columnist for The Toronto Sun, and a self-acknowledged pioneer cougar, we have not. I really get very angry that older women are sort of told that they're not valuable. And I say: Excuse me, I hate to burst your bubble [Laughs] but I can tell you for sure that it goes rolling on. I must say, it's a weird thing -- and it's really just how it works out -- but I never date or have married any man with children. And what a smart girl: she didn't just keep going because he was so handsome, she just said: It's not right for me. Meeting people is a matter of personality and wanting to meet people. My father wouldn't let me move out of the house at all unless I was married. The fact that he was bisexual has got nothing to do with it. I would have married the first one and I might have married the fifth one. And if they've got any sense they won't marry you, because you're a bad wife.