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'It Made Me Cringe': Russell And Zach Have A 33-Year Age Gap In Their Relationship

I am currently 53 and have only had three serious relationships in my life.

I was married to a woman for 25 years, prior to coming out aged 48. My first gay relationship was with a man 15 years younger than me and lasted for three years.

Since coming out, I have generally been attracted to younger men, mostly in their 30s. After my second relationship broke down in 2018, I was looking to be in more casual relationships and date for a while, something I had little experience with.

I met Zach via social media in 2018 and we chatted online for about four weeks before we met in May. We clearly knew there was an age gap, but I thought he was in his 20s and he thought I was around 40, not 18 and 51. It was unexpected, but I was not overly concerned as I was not looking for a long term relationship.

Russell (left) and Zach (right) first met on social media. Image: Supplied

The night we met was really fun and there was an instant connection. We had dinner and drinks and then went out with a group of my friends.

Over the next few weeks, we would see each other on weekends and then I had a lengthy trip to Europe in July and August. I expected to have occasional contact but we ended up chatting almost every day I was away.

Once I returned, we decided to become more serious and eventually I introduced Zach to my children in December. My friends and family have been very accepting of Zach, and my three children are all older than Zach.

By this stage, Zach had talked about me to his family. Generally, they expressed anxiety to him about the age difference, some family members being more outspoken and others more positive.

I recall he told me his mum was accepting he was attracted to older men but stated she wished I was 30 instead of 50. I am the same age as his parents.

We decided the best way to deal with this was for me to meet his large family face to face so they could meet me and hopefully like me. This happened over the next few months and generally, there has been acceptance of our relationship.

One of my friends suggested I stop introducing Zach by age and to allow people to see us together, saying we seem very natural and connected in person.

Russell is the same age as Zach's parents. Image: Supplied

In public, I definitely notice some people give us looks, more so if we hold hands or show affection in public. Of course, it makes me feel uncomfortable but not so much that I feel I need to stop being affectionate in public.

When we go to gay venues, there is much more acceptance. Some people have asked us if we are into daddy and son role play which was a shock and we always respond that we aren’t role playing and our relationship is a more traditional loving partnership.

We have been mistaken for father and son on one occasion, by the realtor who sold me my apartment. When we attended the final pre-sale inspection, he asked Zach: “I bet you’re excited for when Dad moves in?”

That made me cringe although I’m sure other people have thought we are father and son but not expressed it.

We clearly are in different life stages as Zach is at university and working part-time while I am very stable in my career. While I am considering taking long service leave and have just bought an inner city apartment, Zach is yet to start his career.

But this relationship is working and we spend a lot of time together and it feels very natural. While I may go to my friends instead of him for advice on money or investments, we talk about our day to day issues, support each other and listen to each other ‘ins and outs’ of life.

Love

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Zach has supported me through some very difficult life stages, including the death of my mother. One of the best things I love about him is the way he listens and supports me.

I admire his lack of judgment towards me and other people, particularly in the LGBTIQ+ community and I have learned a lot from him.

Featured image: Supplied

You can hear more about Russell and Zach’s story on Insight tonight, at 8.30pm on SBS.