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|Amber Brooks • 9/30/16|
The Short Version: Age-gap romance can be difficult to find in the real world, but Toyboy Warehouse provides a place to flirt with confidence and ease. This female-friendly dating site respects powerhouse women and their attraction to younger men. Since 2007, the site’s membership has taken off — combating the stigma against cougars and toyboys. Today, Toyboy Warehouse is the largest cougar-dating site in the U.K., with over 150,000 members. Unleash your inner cougar and feel free to pursue the person you truly desire on Toyboy Warehouse.
In a smoky bar, dimly lit in the twilight hours, a cougar stalks her prey. She sees the youthful face, the fit physique, and she zeroes in, single-minded in her pursuit. The poor boy doesn’t stand a chance once she pounces, charming him into a stupor of desire.
At least, that’s what people imagine happens when thinking of cougar dating.
Despite this stereotypical image, however, not all women are so bold a hunter. The driven, confident, and seductive cougar is an endangered species rarely seen in the wild. In most cases, when a 50-year-old woman sees a young, attractive man across a crowded bar, she doesn’t approach him. She hangs back, fearful of being mocked or rejected.
Conversely, a young 23-year-old who’s attracted to more experienced women might not make a move either — because he’s just as intimidated. He can’t be sure he’s what she’s looking for and risks humiliation by asking.
The social stigma against age-gap relationships pressures older women and younger men to deny their inner desires and stick to their own age group. However, in the U.K., one dating site works to do away with the stereotype and encourage connection with the person you’re attracted to.
Upending social convention, Toyboy Warehouse is a dating site meant for cougars and toyboys (or “boytoys,” as we say in the U.S.). Started in 2007 as a pioneer in the space, today it is the largest cougar dating site in the U.K.
With 150,000 members to their name, Mike Bandar, Director of Toyboy Warehouse, is proud of what the site has accomplished in just over nine years. The network has helped many individuals find the person they truly desire in a confidence-boosting, judgment-free place.
“You don’t go around wearing a badge saying ‘I’m interested in older women or younger men,’” Mike said. “So that’s why you join Toyboy Warehouse.”
Julia Macmillan was in her early 50s when she decided to try online dating. She’d always been more physically and mentally attracted to younger men, feeling she related better with them. However, she found it difficult when online to connect because of a mismatch of expectations and desires.
Even as a forever single, not looking for anything serious or long-term, Julia had to search long and hard to find men who wanted age-gap romance. This was 2007, and there wasn’t a website that catered solely to cougar dating.
“At the time, it was massively underserved as a niche in online dating,” Mike explained.
Julia sought to help singles like herself by creating the U.K.’s first toyboy dating site: Toyboy Warehouse.
From the outset, it was a female-friendly space, with much respect for cougars. “First and foremost, it was a toyboy website, which I know doesn’t translate as well on your side of the pond,” Mike said with a chuckle. “Boytoy, if you like.”
This caught Mike’s attention. He admired Julia’s motivation to remove the predatory connotations from cougar dating and normalize age-gap relationships. He and his business partner, James Vardy, wanted to bring in their business savvy to take the site to the next level.
In 2013, James and Mike acquired Toyboy Warehouse and have since labored to keep the authenticity of Julia’s intentions while expanding the reach of the site to people across the United Kingdom. He’s excited to be working in such a fun space where he can do real good for singles.
“We’re creating relationships between people, and the concept of that makes the dating industry stand out,” he said. “The benefit of the dating industry is vast, and it’s a continually changing space.”
While Julia still stays involved with the site in an advisory role, James and Mike are currently the ones overseeing the day-to-day business. Mike focuses on marketing and outreach while James works on the site’s design and development.
Of course, these directors can’t do it alone, relying on a devoted team of developers, writers, bloggers, and others who invest their energy into making Toyboy Warehouse a worthwhile place to visit.
Notably, Matthew de Noronha, the Business Manager, does a lot to keep the site moving forward. “He’s basically the driving force behind everything that’s great that you see on the website,” Mike said.
Elle Cuthbert-Edkins is the Head of Customer service and Community. Whenever people have a complaint or compliment for the site, she’s the one they speak to. There’s an instant chat available at Toyboy Warehouse that connects users directly to Elle. Her time and energy goes into speaking to members and helping them find what they’re looking for.
“One of the things that as a team we’re quite proud of and focused on is our customer service,” Mike said. “We have a lot of insight, and we’re still small enough to care about every single individual member.”
The team actually goes through every profile to actively screen the photos, bio, and other attributes. If that profile is seeing a low level of interaction, Toyboy Warehouse is more than happy to reach out and offer some tips to improve the profile and attract more attention.
The development team also enjoys rolling out new features that impress and facilitate daters on the site.
“We quite like having elements of extra surprise and wow,” Mike told us. “So members of Toyboy Warehouse continually get a greater depth of dating experience.”
Sharing experiences is one of the ways that Toyboy Warehouse chips away at the stigma of cougar dating. The Toyboy Warehouse blog is filled with positive articles, advice, and news. “The focus of our blog,” Mike told us, “is letting our community speak to our community.”
The team has cultivated a dedicated group of ambassadors who volunteer their time to spread the word about all the good that Toyboy Warehouse is doing in the dating world. It’s a varied space with many different people coming forward to represent what cougar dating can mean in terms of love, lust, romance, and marriage.
“Quite often a lot of our ambassadors are quite vocal,” Mike said. “They love to give us feedback on things.”
These passionate individuals are great advocates for the site, promoting age-gap relationships of all types.
Mike pointed to inspirational experts like Cindy and Wendy who lend their voice and advice to the site. Powerhouse cougars and passionate toyboys championing the site with their own stories credence to the mission of Toyboy Warehouse.
Whether it’s a single woman in her 70s or a happily married age-gap couple, ambassadors bring their own personal experiences and perspective to cougar dating. This gives the stigmatized relations a face and a voice that’s quite compelling.
For example, couple ambassadors, James and Yet Wha share a beautiful love story. After meeting on the site, these two found true love in an age-gap romance. Twenty years in age may separate them, but in their hearts a bond formed that surpassed age.
“At first there was excitement with the gap. After a period, the thought of the age gap disappeared,” James wrote, “and now we only see each other as people and love the person we are with. Once true love sets in, you and your partner no longer see the differences.”
James and Yet Wha are engaged to be married. Toyboy Warehouse encourages all types of relationships in a supportive community of older women and younger men.
Toyboy Warehouse has brought together many happy couples and even have a few marriages among the success stories.
“It beams a smile onto everyone at the office whenever we get another success story,” Mike said, “which happens more and more often.”
Success for this niche website can also be simply upping a member’s confidence level.
In a monthly round of customer interviews, one woman, Vanessa age 53, told Mike that Toyboy Warehouse had changed her life. “She actually said those words, and it stuck in my mind,” Mike remembered. Many of the women, like Vanessa, find themselves empowered and flattered by the attention they garner on Toyboy Warehouse.
“Because our male members genuinely find older women attractive — for their confidence, experience, and wisdom,” Mike explained, “the women get a lot of attention as soon as they join the site.”
“After a period, the thought of the age gap disappeared and now we only see each other as people and love the person we are with. Once true love sets in you and your partner no longer see the differences.” — James, A Toyboy Warehouse member
The setting of Toyboy Warehouse is rather welcoming to females, who do not always expect to be so flooded with flattering messages. A new female member can receive anywhere between 50 and 100 messages within the first week of joining.
The engaged community on Toyboy Warehouse can be an empowering ego boost for an older woman coming out of a divorce or a younger man inexperienced with a relationship. Customer feedback from men and women is overwhelmingly positive as they find it easier to converse with people who want a similar type of relationship.
“When we hear that even having a profile has given a member a huge amount of confidence,” Mike said, “that’s a massive success for us as a team.”
With passion and authenticity, Toyboy Warehouse helps singles pursue the love, lust, or romance they truly desire.
What’s exciting for the team is that their market is always growing. As stigma decreases and online dating becomes more popular, Toyboy Warehouse expects the number of people looking for age-gap romance to grow as well. “We want to share the fantastic case studies, the good stories, the experiences of our other members,” Mike said, “to share the confidence that people have achieved from Toyboy Warehouse.”
Keen to remain transparent and independent, Toyboy Warehouse hasn’t gone the affiliate route, but prefers to grow the site organically through its own merits and the goodwill of its members.
“We’ve actively decided to stay as authentic as possible,” Mike said. “We’ve never done fake profiling or advertising through means that gets us less quality members.”
While predominantly focused on cougar dating in the U.K., Mike told us that Toyboy Warehouse is also interested in expanding their network internationally. The team just wants to be sure that such growth will be valuable to the membership and not simply growth for the sake of growth.
“A key thing for us is to maintain our integrity and authenticity,” Mike noted. “We always want to offer, from a technical point of view, the best dating service that we possibly can.”
Currently, this means building out greater mobile support for users. A majority of Toyboy Warehouse members use mobile in some respect, so making that experience as user-friendly as possible is a high priority.
Toyboy Warehouse boasts the largest online network of cougars. When you’re logged into the site, there’s no fear or stigma. In a safe space, older women and younger men can flirt with one another and find the relationship that truly satisfies their desires.
Because all members on this niche dating site are open to age-gap dating, making the approach and starting a conversation online becomes much less nerve-wracking for cougars and toyboys alike.
“The lack of confidence is a key thing that holds people back,” Mike said. “Our message is that if you’re ever interested in dating an older woman or younger man to just put yourself out there and give it a go.”