Would you date someone who was 23 years older than you? It was a question that Lesley*, 35, never thought she'd ask herself until she found the man of her dreams.
"He's a year younger than my dad. Which is kind of weird, right?" Lesley admitted with a laugh. "He's not someone I would normally date..."
And for anyone who thinks that Don was just looking for a hot, younger woman who does what he wants with no opinions of her own, Lesley laughed again.
"I'm really a pain in the a** and I'm not worth it. There are other girls who are way easier [to deal with] than me."
The two met through family friends when she was barely 20 and he was in his 40s. They were friends for more than a decade before they couldn't deny their feelings any longer.
"I thought he would never be interested in me because I'm so much younger than him," Lesley said, adding that she thought he saw her as "just a kid." But all that changed about five years ago after her 30th birthday. "He said he wanted to get together and I kind of had a feeling what was coming."
The couple has been together ever since. Instead of holding her back, Lesley attributes their age difference to making her more liberated and opinionated. "I've learned to become even more independent in my own views," Lesley said. "I don't let people push me around. I'm more bossy and certain of my own views from being with him, because that's how he is." For Lesley, age is not something that bothers her frequently. "How I look at it is, you're as young as you act and feel."
Both work from home, which might be a challenge for some couples, but Lesley and Don have found that it has made their relationship stronger. "I let him have his space and his time and I respect his work and the things he thinks are important," Lesley said. "And he does the same to me. I think that's also very crucial. It's important to him too that I'm happy and successful."
Like every couple, they don't agree on everything. "We have different tastes in decorating," Lesley said. "He's more traditional and I tend to like more hokier stuff. I may want to try some weirder colors and stuff like that."
The few difficulties they've faced have mostly come from people outside of their relationship. "We've gotten some dirty looks," Lesley said, admitting that fear of judgment used to bother her. "I thought everyone was looking at us. Then I realized that not everybody is looking at us... If somebody has a problem it's because they don't know us."
She also admitted that some members of her family have "a real problem" with their relationship. "But the majority of my family says, 'You're capable of making your own decisions and if this makes you happy, go for it.'"
Though Lesley is now 35 and Don is now 58, they aren't worried about having children. Don already has two grown children and has said he would "happily have more" if she wanted kids in the future. Her family has encouraged her to figure out what she wants. "If you're going to have kids, get on with it," they've told her.
Regardless of their future, Lesley is happy they found each other. "I would rather be with him than with somebody else, no matter the circumstance," she said.
As far as regrets go, Lesley sometimes wishes that she and Don had not wasted 10 years waiting to date each other. "[Sometimes] I think we should've gotten together earlier. Because we could have saved each other a lot of heartache... we would've brought a lot of joy to each other sooner."
* Names have been changed
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