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Psychology Today magazine calls it “the Cougar Conundrum”: What is the attraction about between younger men and middle-aged women? On the women’s half, of course, it’s not that hard to see the logic. After decades of middle-aged bachelor and newly-divorced men marrying trophy arm candy, we have no business questioning why either gender sometimes likes a fresh partner.

But since when do so many young men go after women old enough to be at least their aunt? Doubtless you’d expect psychologists to attribute it to Freudian issues, but in fact the answers are of a much more carnal nature: Mature women are more experienced in sex, more confident in asking for and getting what they want, and have plenty of libido to keep up with a raring young buck.

Between all partnerships of mature-to-younger matches of either gender, there’s always been an unspoken agreement: Be cute, and I’ll teach you a few new tricks, show you off to my social circle, buy you expensive clothes, and give you a few nights in bed you’ll savor in your memoirs. The financial security in an older partner works for both sides: A woman with less to stress about her future will have more time to enjoy sex, and a younger partner can enjoy a couple years being kept as a pet. It’s not exactly the dawn of the “Sugar Momma,” but it’s a side factor.

The age of the Internet has also cursed us with a cynical expectation of phonies everywhere. Every spambot on the web claims to be an 18-year-old college student. Go for an 18-year-old you encounter on the Internet, and find out they were lying. You may even get catfished, ghosted, or some other fate. But nobody lies about being a 35-year-old mother of two with a couple stretch marks. Mature women are genuine, more likely to be what they say they are simply because there’s not much point in lying and playing games then.

Porn star Tanya Tate says in interviews that the reason MILFs are so popular in porn is “a hot, older woman… someone who is in control, someone who knows what they want and knows how to be satisfied.” She does concede that there’s probably a bit of mommy issues layered on with it, but as a 35-year-old camming for 25-year-olds, she’s obviously way too young to fulfill a mother figure.

Really, we can analyze it all day and not have an exact answer. It could just be the case that we’re loosening up our standards on “proper” age ratios in relationships. That’s as it should be!