You know the stereotypical Cougar relationship where the predatory, well-preserved woman seduces a hot young stud, tutors him in the ways of love, and trots him around to chic bistros and art galleries until the attraction wears off?
Nora and James' relationship was nothing like that.
Since they were friends before they dated, Nora, 46, and James, 30, had a lot in common from the start. Both worked in the arts, they shared many of the same interests and goals. And unlike Nora's prior lover, kids weren't an issue for James - he didn't want any.
Within just a few dates, Nora was crazy about James and they fell into an intimate, laid-back routine. They spent all their free time together, working out, riding bikes, writing, cooking and hanging out at the farmers' market. In LA, eclectic couples were everywhere; Nora didn't feel self-conscious about being with a guy who was obviously younger.
She certainly didn't feel intellectually superior to James - he was the one who taught her things. He taught her how to text message, helped fix things around the house, and even helped her write the screenplay she was working on.
"He made my life so much easier," she said. And he adored her.
He asked Nora, "Did you ever think you'd be loved so much?"
James wasn't the tall, dark and handsome type Nora usually fell for. He was boyishly charming, but when he took off his clothes, he was all man. Not only was he ripped, he was.... well, as Nora put it, "I could see where he got his confidence."
Their love life was very, um, satisfying. Eventually they moved in together.
Their relationship flourished for over a year in California, but James wanted to pursue his writing career back in Boston. He begged Nora to move there with him.
Things were different after they moved. Their simple LA lifestyle was staggeringly expensive in Boston. James had to work at three different jobs just to pay the bills. Nora wasn't getting much work as an actress and took a job as an administrative assistant in a medical office. She thought about going back to school.
Their jobs kept them so busy they rarely saw one another. Through his work, James made a lot of new friends who he hung out with after hours. Nora felt excluded and lonely.
When James suggested she apply to school in Chicago to be closer to her kids, Nora knew it was the beginning of the end. Ten days after she moved to Chicago, he broke up with her on the phone.
That was a year ago. Nora hasn't seen him since.
"It doesn't work out with younger men," she told me. "Men in their 30's change."
She wonders now if James didn't want to introduce her to his new friends in New York because she was so much older.
Nora isn't entirely over James but she's moving on with her life in Chicago. She's working, studying and has reconnected with her family and friends. She has even dated a couple of guys her own age, which has been an adjustment after being with hard-bodied James for four years.
"I went out with a 52 year old man and when he kissed me good night, his big belly made contact before his lips. I went inside my house and cried."
Nora isn't interested in another young guy, but she would like a man who is fit and healthy and takes care of himself, like she does. For now, she's in no hurry.
"I've decided not to be looking. I need to get whole as a person."