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Mary Pender, 37, a high school special education teacher in Huntington Beach, California, connected with a truck driver seven years her junior who she met on an online dating site.

Though she'd always dated older men before, she "thought it was exciting to date someone younger" -- and, as it turned out, he thought it'd be just as exciting a match.

NBC aired a reality dating show this summer -- "Age of Love" -- that pitted women in their 20s against women in their 40s in a battle for the heart of tennis star Mark Philippoussis.

Meanwhile, online dating sites like Go urge older women who seek younger men to "get what you want." Such pairings can and do work.

My friend Gabrielle met her boyfriend at a restaurant opening. just clearly don’t care.” The stereotypes, she says, are true: Older men are attentive, they aren’t threatened by your career success, they didn’t grow up watching porn on their laptops, and they certainly don’t expect sex from you before you’ve even had a chance to meet.

They are twenty years apart, and they’ve been together for two. “I watch so many of my other friends agonize over text messages from guys who . It’s not an “old-fashioned” dating scheme, it’s just a more humane one.

This taboo makes some of my clients feel shameful about their age preferences.

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No matter which way you spin it, landing yourself in a committed relationship seems to be, by millennial standards, “the wrong idea.” I want to believe that selected only their most salacious interviewees to quote, but I know that’s not true.

"When I finally found out how much younger he was, I was a little shocked," says Kimberly Schmitz, a 34-year-old communications and public relations director in Tucson, Arizona, of her now-fianc, Bobby Kern, 25, owner of a feed store and pet food distribution company in the same city.

"(But) he is such an amazing man that I decided to let his actions speak more than his statistics. He is the most mature and sensitive man I have ever dated." For Kern, the attraction is mutual.

A 2003 study by AARP revealed that 34 percent of all women over 40 in the survey were dating younger men, and 35 percent preferred it to dating older men. Quite frankly, his mother made it so impossible," Winter says of the six-year relationship, which inspired her book.

"Societal attitudes have definitely changed," says Susan Winter, 52, co-author of "Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance" -- and she would know. "But (that kind of discrimination) would not be allowable now." Hollywood in particular has defied the ageism stereotype, with celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore marrying significantly younger men (a 10- and 15-year age gap, respectively, with director Guy Ritchie and actor Ashton Kutcher), and the public has come to accept it.