A bride-to-be says her partner is often mistaken for her 'grandad' thanks to their 20-year age gap, claiming some shocked strangers even end up taking photos of them.
Taylor-Rae Hamilson, 29, is proud of her relationship with 48-year-old business owner John Falconer - who is the same age as her mum - despite the fact they're regularly bombarded with negative comments online.
The couple met through dating app Tinder in 2019 before getting engaged just seven months later, and are due to get married in August 2022.
Now Taylor-Rae is speaking out to help 'normalise' age gap relationships, saying others should just 'do what makes you happy', regardless of what others think.
Taylor-Rae, from Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, said: "People think a 20-year age gap is controversial but as for us it's totally normal.
"Some people make comments about me being a gold digger or child bride on social media.
"It's usually where people feel like they can hide behind a screen and write what they feel like they want to write and it's pretty sad.
"When we're out in public in person it's more the looks, the whispers, the nudges, the photographs being taken.
"I'm so tiny as well. I'm only 5ft 1 and also very petite body-wise and John's just over 6ft so it makes me look even younger again."
She added: "When I see people staring and taking pictures when we're out, I hug him even more, hold his hand even more and say, 'Give me a kiss.'
"People do judge and assume. John laughs about it and says to me, 'Do they really think that by asking if I am your dad or grandad that it's insulting me?'.
"It doesn't insult him, people think it's a low jab but he just says, 'I'm the one that pulled her.'"
Taylor-Rae met John on Tinder, where she was initially only given his age and name.
"There was no information on him so it wasn't as if I saw a profile and I was able to look him up and think, 'Oh my god, there's a man who could be a sugar daddy,'" she said.
"I think what caught my eye was his smile and his eyes. He has such kind, happy eyes - when he smiles his eyes just sparkle."
Taylor-Rae said John was 'nervous' meeting up with her as he thought she was 'going to be a catfish'.
But they met up for their first date in Belfast, and just six weeks later John whisked her away to New York.
While Taylor-Rae's mum, Leesa Hamilton, was delighted that she'd found someone who made her so happy, her 52-year-old dad, Keith Hamilton, was concerned that John was only interested in flaunting her on his arm.
But now John and Keith get on really well, and are 'like two peas in a pod'.
Taylor-Rae continued: "My dad's very close to me and he's been the only man that's never let me down my whole life, he's been such a good dad.
"He's seen the heartbreak I've been through before with people taking advantage so I think he felt a wee bit worried.
"John totally understood and sent him a well-worded message saying, 'I totally understand where you're coming from and how you feel.'
"It was a good length of time before they met, that one text message just lightened it all."
Taylor-Rae said others in an age-gap relationship should just ignore the haters, saying if someone brings 'something good to your life' then simply 'go with it'.
She believes the trolls are the ones with the problem, not her or John, saying: "We're living our best lives, we're happy with each other, we're loyal to each other, we know we've got a good, trusting and happy relationship.
"We even ended up getting a monkey called Winston together too.
"It's such a happy home, we have a laugh all the time. I'm blessed.
"Anyone who brings any negativity to our relationship - it's them bringing it. They're the ones with the problem, not us."
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read