It wasn't that we weren't attracted to each other, but we weren't thinking about that.We just enjoyed each other's company a great deal." They developed a strong relationship as colleagues, she says.According to the AARP survey, respondents cited fun and companionship as the main reasons for dating.Of the respondents -- 56 of whom had been married in the past -- only 8 percent said they were looking for marriage.But she was always aware that he was a student and she was not, so the boundaries were clear.Besides, she was divorced with a young daughter to raise, and a new relationship, let alone a traditional marriage, was not on her radar screen. "Nobody else is quite as engaging to me as Chris," Woolston says today.
In the late 1980s, the Montana writer was a teacher at The Writing Center in Billings.Research on dating habits of these 40-plus singles is sparse, but according to an AARP survey of 3,500 older singles, 34 percent of women in the 40-to-69 age group date younger men.And 14 percent of women age 50 to 59 say they prefer dating men in their 40s or younger.Nonetheless, more than one in 10 of these relationships leads to marriage: The most recent Census Bureau figures show that about 12 percent of all marriages are between older women and younger men.Women dating younger men said they appreciated the strength, humor, openness, youth, and passion of their partners. Stanton believes that although some of the attraction may be predicated on the mystique of the older woman, her appeal to younger men was based not just on chemistry but on "the luxury of having a finished person."They were much more comfortable with their own sexuality," she says."And they seemed to love a smart woman who understood sports and classical music." A trend on the upswing Stanton was apparently on the leading edge of what experts say is a new trend: older women dating younger men."He would denigrate me by saying I might have had brain smarts but didn't have a lick of common sense," says Stanton."He said I was so subject to flattery, anyone could buy me with a candy bar. And whenever I had a performance, he refused to support me by even being there." Then came feminism.Stanton recalls a relationship with one young man she still calls the love of her life."I learned to cook with him, because he ate everything, even my mistakes, with great gusto and appreciation," she says. Sometimes we'd sit in front of the fireplace singing country-western songs at the top of our voices.