Self-proclaimed cougar KarenLee Poter believes that the second half of life is an incredible opportunity for women and the vibrant 50-something is having a rollicking good time to prove it. She’s in a committed relationship with a younger man, has a sexy web-based show that has garnered 2 million views, and has written a new book called “A Cougar’s Guide to Getting Your Ass Back Out There.”
Poter’s journey to cougarhood was far from easy. After dealing with the shocking murder of her husband, Gary, in 2006, the Northbrook mother of three emerged from grief and loss determined to live her life to the fullest.
“By having this happen, I realized how fragile life is and how important it is to follow your inner strength,” says Poter. “The tragedy became an opportunity. I transformed myself into a powerhouse. That’s the main goal of my book – to inspire women to be the best person they can. It sounds corny, but it’s true.”
Poter’s book is a guide for women reentering the dating scene in middle age. When Poter first began to date, she wasn’t prepared for a serious relationship; she simply wanted affection.
“When you lose a spouse suddenly, tragically, your body responds in a way that’s almost adolescent like,” she says. “You want male companionship more than anything, not just for friendship, but for sex. You want to be held and touched again, you want to feel alive again.”
Poter found the men most often looking for the same thing were younger guys, busy with their careers and not yet ready to settle down.
“It’s a great match!” says Poter, who enjoyed exploring her sexuality and gaining confidence through dating.
Poter doesn’t accept the predatory stereotype most often associated with the term “cougar.” Her definition of a C-O-U-G-A-R is a woman who is Confident, Older, Unique, Genuine, Assertive and Racy. For women just entering the dating scene, the first step, says Poter, is to “heal – inside and outside – before you do anything else.”
Poter recommends a woman take a good look at the issues in her prior relationships and deal with them so she can move on to a healthier one. And, it’s important to take care of yourself and look your best physically.
“Work out, walk, run, bike, watch what you’re eating – the physical aspect of you reflects the inside,” she says. “If you want someone to be attracted to you, they have to see your glow.”
And then, “The second part is you got to get out there!”
Poter’s book is filled with dishy personal anecdotes and savvy advice about how to approach, meet, charm and communicate with men, but throughout, her emphasis is on how women should prioritize their own needs (see chapter 6 on the selfish orgasm.) Online, her “KarenLee Poter Show” covers more explicit topics – she has a very entertaining series of interviews with porn stars – but Poter recognizes that women are more likely to seek out sexual advice in print rather than video.
Poter is now enjoying a long-term relationship with her younger partner, but surprisingly, age is no longer an issue for the couple. “We thrive on our energy, and we enjoy each other’s company so much, we really have a good time together,” she says. “Obviously there’s a strong chemistry.”
Even so, it’s not a relationship with a younger man that makes Poter an expert cougar. She believes that having the freedom to explore her desires and the confidence to pursue her interests is what made has made her most fulfilled in midlife.
“The second time around, you don’t need to look for a man to be a provider and father to your children,” she says. “The second time around, you can do whatever you want and follow whatever passions you want. It’s such an opportunity.”