When we read that a researcher at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff had released a study claiming that the cougar dating trend is a myth and a media construct, we were ready to buy his argument. After all, we’ve witnessed first-hand — and have occasionally, shame on us, been responsible for — how a so-called trend can get blown out of all proportion for the sake of a sexy headline. So we tend to be more than ready to believe that a much-hyped, now-sitcom-ed trend is actually just hype.
But it turns out that the researcher, Michael Dunn, doesn’t have the most water-tight argument himself. For one thing, his theory is based solely on stats from public online dating profiles, which as we all know, are notoriously unreliable sources of information (who knew the world contained so many men over 6 foot?!). The profiles he looked at (in North American, Europe, Australia, and Japan) showed that most women are looking for men their own age or older and most men are looking for younger women. In other words, Dunn’s real finding is that people don’t use mainstream online dating sites to find or be a cougar… or at least, if they do, they don’t admit it openly in their profiles.