I get abuse in the street for my age gap relationship – people think my man is my GRANDAD
A BRIDE-TO-BE claims people abuse her and her partner because he "looks old enough to be her grandad" thanks to their 20-year age gap – so she deliberately shows off with public displays of affection.
Taylor-Rae Hamilton, 29, and 48-year-old business owner John Falconer – both from Ireland – are regularly bombarded with negative comments online about their age difference.
People even go as far as to ask whether he's her grandad and accuse her of being a gold digger.
Taylor-Rae 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."
The duo also claims to be regularly stared at and whispered about when out in public together – with some audacious strangers even taking snaps of them.
"When we're out in public in person it's more the looks, the whispers, the nudges, the photographs being taken," Taylor-Rae explained.
"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.
"When they're nudging each other and looking they could possibly be mistaking us for father and daughter.
"I look like a little girl standing beside him – we're holding hands and I've got my engagement ring on.
"I'm always very glamorous. I always have my big glasses on, one of my big bags and John will usually have his shorts and flip flops on.
But Taylor-Rae said the pair of them don't let the stares get them down.
She said: "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'."
Despite cruel online jibes about being a gold digger or child bride, beauty business owner Taylor-Rae claims that after "kissing a few toads" she's finally found her prince – who is the same age as her mum.
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Just seven months after meeting through a dating app, the loved-up couple are engaged and are due to get hitched in August 2022.
Now, Taylor-Rae is speaking out to normalise age gap relationships, urging people to "always do what makes you happy" no matter what people might say.
"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?'," she said.
"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 dad-of-three John after swiping right on him on Tinder in September 2019.
After exchanging a couple of messages, the 29-year-old asked to call him and the pair chatted for three hours.
Taylor-Rae said: "I downloaded the app out of boredom, I was just swiping and then I matched with him.
"I only had his name John and his age and that was it.
"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'.
"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.
"I'm quite witty so we had a good laugh on the phone and we just talked about who we were and what we do.
"We chatted about a whole number of topics, we just got on really well. He got my humour, and not many people do.
"John said he was nervous coming to see me because he thought I was going to be a catfish. He couldn't believe me being so young that I wanted to go out with him."
The following day they met up for their first date in Belfast for dinner and a film and just six weeks later, John whisked her away to New York for a romantic five-day visit.
Taylor-Rae said her mum was delighted that her daughter had found someone who made her happy.
He didn't want an older man taking advantage of me being a young, glamorous girl as some arm candy and showpiece.
But the fashion fan conceded her 52-year-old dad was initially wary and concerned that John was only interested in flaunting her on his arm.
Taylor-Rae said: "My mum and dad were young parents. My mum's nearly a sister to me, she was fine about it.
"I slowly broke it to my dad that John was a lot older than me and has experienced much more in life and he was a wee bit protective.
"He didn't want an older man taking advantage of me being a young, glamorous girl as some arm candy and showpiece.
"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."
However, Taylor-Rae says the pair are now "like two peas in a pod" after John crafted a thoughtful text explaining his honest intentions.
"John totally understood and sent him a well-worded message saying 'I totally understand where you're coming from and how you feel'," she explained.
"It was a good length of time before they met, that one text message just lightened it all.
"It makes me laugh now because the two of them are like two peas in a pod, they get on so well.
"I think because time has shown this is such a genuine relationship and my dad knows it now and he spoils him in a way."
Despite the age gap, Taylor-Rae said she knew John was the one after their trip to New York.
Taylor-Rae said: "Once we came back from New York I knew this was the person I really wanted to be with – and him too.
"From the start we knew there was a gap, an elephant in the room, but as time went on we knew we were very compatible.
"We have a lot of chemistry, our humour is exactly the same and our ambition in life is very similar.
"We're both very kind and giving people, [for example] simple things like if I run a bath and have his jammies and slippers out for him, the following night he'll do something similar.
"We're very giving, it's a lovely mutual balance between the two of us."
John got down on one knee and proposed with a custom-made diamond ring in April 2020 and the pair are now looking forward to their wedding next year.
Taylor-Rae said: "During lockdown on one of our date nights he just dropped to his knee and asked me to marry him.
"Of course I said yes, so got the ring on the finger, made all the phone calls – I was so ecstatic.
"My ring is beautiful, it's massive. He knows me – go big or go home. It's a custom-made cathedral setting ring with a nice big diamond in the middle. Everyone always admires it."
While Taylor-Rae said she was attracted to John from the very start, she's happy with how they approached the relationship.
He's this little puzzle piece that was always missing and I feel he loves me for who I am and not the image that I portray.
"We took that time to really date, get to know each other a lot more and fell in love with the whole being," she said.
"My whole life I've battled an awful lot with my own self-esteem and my own self-confidence.
"I'm quite a glamorous person – I love all my make-up and tan and fake hair and my lip fillers and all that but I feel like John has made me love myself in the right way and brought out the best in me.
"He's this little puzzle piece that was always missing and I feel he loves me for who I am and not the image that I portray.
"I can run around the house with no eyebrows on and my hair tied up like Miss Trunchbull and he will still love me as much as I would be completely glammed up."
The bride-to-be said that you should "grab what makes you happy" relationship-wise when it comes along and to ignore naysayers.
"I would say to anyone in an age-gap relationship, always do what makes you happy and be with the person who makes you happy," the 29-year-old suggested.
"At the end of the day people are going to talk about you anyway regardless of what you do in life and they are the people that do not matter.
"If that person brings something good to your life then go with it. Life's hard and if that person brings any sort of hope or joy or light to your life grab it with both hands and don't let go of them.
"With younger men we may have looked more matched in photographs but deep down your smiles can hide a lot of pain.
"I'm approaching 30 but I've always had a very old mind, I've always been very mature for my age."
When it comes to negative comments, Taylor-Rae said trolls are the ones with the problem, not them.
Taylor-Rae said: "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.
"I feel I've finally found my happiness, you have to kiss a few toads before you find your prince.
"I always say behind every dark cloud there's a lovely rainbow. John's definitely my rainbow."
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