My coworker was 17 years older than me and was too attracted to me to be in the same meetings. We're now engaged.

Kelsey Herbers and her fiancé with their dog
The author and her fiancé are in an age-gap relationship.Courtesy of Kelsey Herbers
  • I started a job, and one of my older coworkers found me so attractive he couldn't attend meetings.

  • Despite a 17-year age gap and living in different states, we found common ground.

  • I believe our age difference strengthens our relationship, and we look forward to getting married.

"This is going to be difficult." That's the first thought my former coworker and now fiancé had the first time he saw me pop up in a Teams video tile as part of his regular work meeting.

It was March 2022, and I had just joined the marketing company, where he was a senior account executive, as a senior freelance writer. Soon after, he started leading a weekly meeting that included me and two other people. This continued until the end of that summer when he decided his initial attraction to me put him in an awkward position.

"Not only were you beautiful, but I really started to fall in love with you as a person, so I told myself I needed to back off and keep work and personal lives separate," Collin, who's now my soon-to-be husband, later told me. "I'd never been in a position where I felt this level of attraction to someone at work. I thought, 'I have to give this meeting to someone else — I can't run this.'"

Our similarities trumped major logistical differences

Collin's and my communication was minimal until that September when he heard from a mutual colleague that my prior relationship of 10 years had just ended. He asked our office administrator for my phone number and texted me to ask how I was doing. He even sent a picture of his dog to cheer me up.

I had always known him to be a hyper-friendly extrovert, so it took me several days to realize that his text messages were teetering on the edge of being friendly and something more. That's when I asked how old he was.

"I'm 44, how old are you?" he immediately texted back at the time.

His age came as a shock to me at 27 years old. His personality was so playful that I thought he was maybe in his mid-30s. I was not expecting a 17-year age gap.

Meanwhile, he had assumed I was in my lower 30s due to my career stage and perceived maturity.

The fact that he lived in Boise, Idaho, which doesn't quite neighbor my home base of Charleston, South Carolina, also further complicated things.

Still, we agreed to talk. While our connection sounded a little mysterious on paper, we found out we also have a lot in common: Both of us attended a small music school with dreams of becoming songwriters — and both of us switched our majors when we realized there were probably more stable careers. We had lived in Nashville but felt a long pull to Charleston, South Carolina, for no identifiable reason.

After a week of talking, Collin booked a $600 plane ticket to fly across the country for a first date — a trip that an unexpected nine-hour layover and a change in destinations hindered. Instead of landing in Charleston around 4 p.m., he landed at an airport in Georgia two hours away, where I picked him up after midnight.

It has been love ever since.

Our age difference only makes us stronger

After publishing an essay about Collin and I's differences in life stages, finances, and retirement planning, I quickly realized that age-gap relationships are still quite controversial. I received hate mail for the first time in my life, and it opened my eyes to how couples with age differences are often left out of the broader "love-is-love" conversation.

In my opinion, our age gap makes us a stronger couple. We had to have serious life-question discussions from the first week of talking, covering topics, including how we define love, where we want to live, and whether we want a family, setting a healthy foundation of vulnerability and honesty.

He has offered a level of wisdom and maturity that helps me battle my own challenges every day, and I help keep him young. While we're not oblivious to hard situations that could manifest down the road — such as me being his caretaker in older age — we certainly don't think it's worth sacrificing everything we've found in each other.

We're both more in love than we've ever been and can't wait to elope and continue building our life together, from big experiences such as international travel to the smiles and small moments in between. We're committed to keeping a lens of curiosity towards each other so we're always growing together.

Kelsey Herbers is a freelance marketing writer and journalist based in Charleston, South Carolina. Connect on LinkedIn.

Read the original article on Business Insider