Age is just a number, right? Or is it? If you ask the women who have dated or are currently dating older men, they’ll say it’s “just a number” that they had to “get over” and yet, this number was exactly why they ended up having the best time in their dating lives. Let’s call the pink elephant in the room out, shall we: when men date down, that’s completely natural. When women date younger men, they’re cougars. These same women will tell you that if a number doesn’t matter, then the label matters even less.

Every woman who has ever had the pleasure of dating a younger guy has some strikingly common experiences — in all the best ways. If your soul is aching for a relationship that is full of humor, adventure, joy and personal growth, do yourself a favor and grab ‘em while they’re young and hot. And not in that salt n pepper way.

Here are 7 reasons why dating a younger man should be a rite of passage every woman experiences:

1. Respect

This is point number one because it should be the main point — men who respect women are incredibly sexy. Maybe it’s because they’re a little closer to their moms than men your own age would be (especially if you’re dating a man in his 20s), so they remember what it means to really respect women. Or maybe it’s because he’s just that kind of guy. Regardless, younger guys haven’t yet faced the big, bad world yet and that refreshing innocence means they’re not jaded and you’re respected.

2. E for Effort

Younger men are definitely prone to dressing to impress. See, you’ve got your ducks in a row and your sh*t down and he knows it. So he tries harder to dress the part, keep up with your maturity level, and generally not embarrass you — or himself!

3. Devil May Care

Younger guys are lighter because life experiences haven’t hit them enough yet (or maybe not as hard). They’re more prone to be spontaneous and will pull you along for the ride. They go where the wind takes them because they have the flexibility to do so and this will set your heart afire (not to mention your loins). A younger man will definitely be more adventurous and up for “anything,” so if you have a wild streak to you or you have forgotten what it was like to do things that scare the living daylights out of you, a younger man will re-energize, revitalize and remind you of possibility.

4. Experience counts…

But you’re willing to train the right candidate, right? Younger men love to please older women both in and out of the bedroom. Is it any surprise? He assumes you’re the one who’s way more experienced (and he’d be right…right??).

At the same time, he’s willing to take the lead if you’re willing to be a patient teacher. There is something heart-warming and arousing about seeing a younger guy eager to please you in any way he can.

Better start keep a “to-do” list. First up, you.

5. No inhibitions

Being with a younger guy will call on you to shed your inhibitions but you know what? They’ll meet you halfway. Younger men are not so “set in their ways” yet and so they’re willing to be vulnerable and emotionally available to you in a way that older men sometimes have trouble being. If that doesn’t turn you on, here’s something younger men love: exploring an older woman’s curves and all those nooks you’re “shy” about. He’ll call you out on it and then worship it. Sound like your cup of tea? Yeah, we thought so.

6. Bringing back the spark

All this proximity to youthfulness, vibrancy, and the sheer feeling of being alive — and, yes, that’s what it feels like to be with a younger guy — is bound to make even the most taciturn and shy older woman come out of her shell. If you go along with your younger beau’s convictions, invest in him emotionally, and are willing to be as spontaneous and youthful, he’ll have the spark returning not only in your own life but he’ll never let the flame die in your intimate time either.

7. It’s Not You…It Really Is Me.

At the end of the day, older women dating younger men are so quick to discount them and so prone to not taking them seriously that they realize this is exactly what makes these men serious contenders in their lives. Very quickly, older women who are mature and accomplished realize that they can very much count on younger men they may have only thought as “boy toys” to be there for them, emotionally and sexually. Younger men, they soon find out, make great partners and its because it’s women who are able to call the shots.

She gets to set the tone for the relationship as she’s probably the one more experienced and more financially stable. And because you feel comfortable with yourself, your younger man automatically gravitates towards you even more.

So go ahead: break the rules, get back to yourself, and you may just find love (and, okay, lots of great nookie).