You helped us convince our families that our 21-year age gap wasn't a problem

DEAR DEIDRE: I couldn’t see how my partner and I could stay together before we got in touch with you. 

There’s a 21-year age gap between us, which we knew would get some people’s backs up. But the constant abuse was getting too much. 

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I’m 46, my boyfriend’s 21 and when we wrote to you, we’d been together for 10 months. 

We met working at the same pub – he worked behind the bar and constantly made me laugh while I waitressed. 

People at work never had anything bad to say – they could see how well we got on and that our age wasn’t an issue. 

It was strangers who seemed to have a problem with our relationship. 

At first, they’d mistake him for my son. But when we held hands or kissed, they’d shoot us dirty looks and mutter things under their breath.

I could handle all that stuff. It’s when things turned nasty or physical that I struggled. 

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been called a ‘paedo’, and have even had a drink tossed in my face. 

Our families weren’t keen on our relationship either. 

His mum was furious when she found out how old I was. She said: “It’s disgusting how you’ve groomed my son” and refused to have anything to do with us.  

We both knew we loved each other deeply, and could both see a future together – we’d spoken about marriage, buying a house and adopting kids. 

I think the constant questioning started to seep into my brain. 

But you reassured us that relationships with a large age gap can work, as long as you have the same priorities. 

You also told us that dealing with people’s opinions was a normal part of any relationship. The important thing was our happiness. 

Your support pack helped reassure us and was a great way to prove to our families that we’d really thought our relationship through. 

We discussed the points you’d made in it with them, and now they’re much more understanding, 

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In fact, we’ve just been invited to my niece’s birthday party – the first family gathering we’ve both been included in. 

And the best news is that we’re now engaged to get married next April and a couple of my family and his have already accepted. We can’t thank you enough. 

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DEIDRE SAYS: Deidre says: There are many successful relationships with large age gaps out there. 

The key is ensuring you both want the same things in life and ironing out major differences like one of you wanting children, while the other doesn’t. 

You have worked through these potential pitfalls and still want to be together. So there is no reason why you can’t have a long and happy life together.

So let me wish you huge congratulations on your engagement.  

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