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Suzanne Power: Young men tick all the boxes for successful women

The cougar label normally applies to women over 40, but lately a few of my 30-something friends have been waiting to pounce on the role.

One of them just turned 35 and has grown some serious incisors. She finds men in their early 20s stroke her fur in the right direction: "When you get the chance to jump the bones of a beautiful Paolo Nutini why not opt for him rather than some leathery old rock star who has had one too many binges?"

Her preferences have always been musical, but she's found that dating musicians is often a thankless task. She still likes them to play guitar, but not to the tune of their own angst: "I like thoughtful guys, beautiful guys and tender guys. I find the more lines on a man's face, the more trouble he is."

She's a regular gym-goer and looks 10 years younger than her age. When I look at her I think of Samantha Jones' line in Sex And The City: "I do love you Richard, but I love me more." It takes sexual confidence, not desperation, to say you're a trainee cougar. What I loved about SATC was, rather than seeing Jones degenerate, swigging on vodka bottles and snatching the buttocks of passing waiters, she finds a younger man who idolises her. Her try-sexual (meaning she'll try anything once) approach didn't leave her alone and hungry for hugs but in the possession of a man who had gone behind her glamorous, impenetrable facade to love her hidden sensitive nature. I think that's what Demi Moore wakes up to every day.

What men have been doing for years, women are now doing. They are successful and strident and they don't need to be supporting some guy's career. So a lad with good bedroom instincts, who won't tax their full-capacity existence with selfish demands, is bound to fit the bill better than a first-time divorcee trying to pay alimony.

But I love experience over the physical form. My friend is the opposite. Where I see an unvarnished face, she sees an untarnished one. Her sex life is glowing and I don't see shadows of discontent with her encounters. If anything she relishes them.

Another cougar-to-be went on a holiday to celebrate her last birthday as a 30-something: "I was freaked out about turning 39, so I went for Ibiza counselling." For two weeks she was followed by a 19 year old who kept pleading for an opportunity to take her out.

"If I'd been in Dublin I'd have sent him home to mummy. But we were away and the sun was shining and I felt a lot younger than I was. I gave in and gave him a night to remember. It's a bit 'Shirley Valentine goes Clubbing', but I've spent years apologising to boyfriends my own age, for being a bit young at heart. I let myself have some fun in the sun. He was lovely."

Did she ever think that she was almost having her 21st when his mammy was in the labour ward?

"Yep. Once or twice, and I pushed that thought away harder than she did delivering him. I think I gave him a Ms Robinson, a 21st-century experience of what sex with an older woman will do for both technique and tenderness.

"He won't be smashing and grabbing his way with the next woman. I taught him how to treat women. I got a lot out of it, so did he."