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'People think age gap relationships don't work'

PUBLISHED: 19:46 18 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:16 19 November 2019

Amelia and Ben met at work.

Amelia and Ben met at work.

Archant

With viewers gripped by the BBC One mini series Gold Digger, about a wealthy woman who falls in love with a younger man, we ask why are we so fascinated by age gap relationships? Two Norfolk couples share their experiences.

Gemma and Shaun got engaged on the London Eye.Gemma and Shaun got engaged on the London Eye.

"I've made him younger and he's made me older"

Amelia Hall, 24, and Ben Freeman, 42 met at work on a training course. They've been together for a year and a half, have a three-month-old son and live on the outskirts of Norwich. They are engaged and plan to marry in 2021.

It was Ben's sense of humour that attracted Amelia. "He pulled a face at me as I was looking at him. This interested me, so I had to find out more about him," she says.

They moved in together after just three months of dating.

"It all felt so right," says Amelia.

"When Ben and I got together we knew there was an age gap but neither of us cared about it. We had both come out of complicated relationships and we were happy.Becauseof his [Ben's] age he knew exactly what he wanted and how he was going to get there. I loved that he was a dad already and could see how much he loves his children which meant a lot as well. He didn't mess around and didn't play me about which is what most guys my age would have done.

"I think we knew that there could be judgement but were ready to fight whatever came our way together."

She says that when they went public with their relationship there was a bit of shock at the age gap between them to begin with.

"I think the person in my family that was most shocked was my mum. There is only nine years difference between my mum and Ben, whereas there is 18 years between me and him. I think his children found it strange that he was with someone so young, however we get on really well now. They say I've made him younger and he's made me older."

And while they were born in two completely different eras the age gap is not something that they notice day to day.

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"Ben was born in 1977 and me in 1995. The things that he was brought he up with liking were the same things that my parents enjoyed. However to usit doesn't matter. I only notice the [age] difference when he's talking to my mum about music or trends that they both remember. Ben is like a big child so we don't often remember. We are very happy and we are going to keep smiling and pulling each together through whatever comes our way."

"We knew opposition to our relationship was a possibility"

Gemma Gleed, 36, and Shaun Whiting, 51, have been together for 21 months. Shaun proposed to Gemma on the London Eye last December and they are saving up to get married. They live in Norwich.

"We met around five years ago," says Gemma. "I started going to Slimming World and became friends with Trish, Shaun's late wife - and Trish brought Shaun along one day. Sadly, Trish sadly passed away in October 2017. We were both devastated. He'd lost his wife and I'd lost my friend. We supported each other through this time and gradually realised we had feelings for each other. In January 2018 we decided we wanted to be together, but were concerned as to how his children would feel about it. But when we told them they were both really happy. They already knew me and were glad dad was with someone who knew mum. I was concerned Shaun's daughter Zoe, at 15, would find it strange dad having a girlfriend so much younger, but that hasn't been the case - for her I'm both friend and stepmum."

Gemma says that most of their friends and family were happy for them.

"We knew opposition to our relationship was a possibility, mostly because Shaun's wife had passed away a few months before. Most of our friends were happy for us. Shaun's family were also happy. My family were apprehensive about the relationship because of the age gap and because Shaun had lost his wife recently.

"People think age gap relationships won't work because the generations are different, but a lot depends on the people in the relationship. If the younger person is more mature or the older person is young at heart it works. With me and Shaun it's a bit of both and we meet in the middle

"We're very well matched and we don't really see the age difference. We're just us and we love each other. That's all that matters, our age doesn't come into it. I feel secure with Shaun. I've also found being with a mature man has meant having someone more understanding of my autistic daughter. Shaun accepts Piper for who she is and that certain situations will be hard for her. It's given her the loving, supportive dad she's always wanted.

"We're looking forward to a long future together filled with love, laughter and hopefully, one day, grandbabies."

Are you in an age gap relationship? Are you an older woman dating a younger man? What are your views? Email me.

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