Benjamin Franklin is sometimes cited for his advice on the choice of a mistress:

"In all your amours, you should prefer old women to young ones . . . because they have more knowledge of the world, and their minds are better stor'd with observations. . ."

A young man might well pay heed, but Susan Jacoby writing in McCall's cautions the older woman:

"I know all about these endless studies showing that a man reaches his sexual peak at age 18 and a woman at 38. These studies refer to frequency. As any woman knows, finesse in lovemaking is worth a good deal more. . . . Grown-ups make the best lovers -- in or out of bed."

Newsweek quotes New York columnist Liz Smith on how the emergence of women in the workplace may be making it easier for the older woman to take a young lover. "When men have money and power, they choose younger partners. Now it's the same with women."

Washington psychologist Marguerite Fogel suggests that an older woman gets pleasure from assuming a teacher-protege role: "She enjoys giving. She enjoys being needed. There's a value in being needed. The woman likes his company. He's an interesting man. She's willing to give him what he needs. Nobody's being exploited."

In time, though, "men will outgrow" this kind of relationship "if they have the stuff in them.That's the part that hurts. When he doesn't need her anymore."