'My Boyfriend Is 21 Years Older Than Me'

I've been a personal trainer for five years now, but when I first started out in 2018, I had a client who eventually became my best friend. We began working together in January 2019, and gradually grew closer because I was training her five days a week. She's from Los Angeles originally, but she had moved to my state, Arizona, temporarily for college.

In 2019, just before my best friend moved back to Los Angeles, I went over to her house to say goodbye. As I walked through the door, the first person that I saw was a crazy-looking cowboy, holding what looked like a glass of whiskey. He confidently introduced himself to me as my best friend's brother, and I could tell that he had a way with the ladies.

I immediately felt that his charm was a red flag. I thought: If he can be so charming towards me, he can be that way with everybody else. At the time, I was 23 years old and he was 44 years old, and I didn't view him romantically—I categorized him as my best friend's brother.

Vivian is in an age gap relationship
Vivian Ngo (pictured) is in a 21-year age gap relationship. Vivian Ngo

We kept in touch through Instagram and he occasionally replied to my stories. I later realized, through following his journey on social media, that he was into psychology, which is something that I'm also very passionate about. So, out of curiosity, I began asking him questions about psychology and his personal views.

Developing a friendship

In 2020, he reached out to me and asked me if I would like to visit the Grand Canyon with him. A few months before that, he'd had a heart attack. It made him realize that life was short and he wanted to explore the world and meet new people. Similarly, one of my New Year's resolutions was to be more open and fun.

He had no intention of trying to date me when he asked me on this trip, and I had no intention of trying to date him either; he was very much an adventurous kind of guy.

One week later, he flew from California to Arizona and I picked him up from the airport. Immediately, we clicked, and we got along very well throughout the trip. We took a tour bus to the Grand Canyon; we had dinners a lot and we spoke about our lives.

Starting an age gap relationship

A few days later, we began dating and shortly after he moved to Arizona to be with me. I didn't have any reservations that our relationship wouldn't work out because of our age gap. I'm an old soul; I feel like I came out of the womb already 60 years old! I've always wanted more serious things in comparison to people my age, which is why, for me, being in an age gap relationship is so much better.

If I dated my partner when he was my age, we would not be compatible, at all. We are only compatible now because I believe that he has settled down and has learned a lot of things in life.

But when we first started dating, I thought: How do I tell people about our age gap? My parents were concerned before they met him because of this. But it's very hard not to like my partner once you meet him because his personality is amazing. So, my parents' reservations quickly went away.

If I was dating a grumpy, quiet man who kept to himself, then maybe his age would have been a big factor. But I believe that we shouldn't judge people by their personality or their age.

Vivian is in an age gap relationship
Vivian Ngo pictured with her boyfriend, who is 21 years older than her. Vivian Ngo

My friends haven't had anything bad to say about our relationship, but that's because I don't surround myself with people who have a tendency to be judgmental. All of my friends are very open-minded. In fact, after I posted a video about my age gap relationship on YouTube, people said positive things like, "Seeing your video has given me the permission and the confidence to be in an age gap relationship."

Misconceptions around age gap relationships

There are a few misconceptions that people can have about those in an age gap relationship. The first is that older guys are more controlling. I don't agree with that statement. But I do believe that, from my experience, older guys tend to be more stubborn.

I think the younger you are, the more open you are open to learning things and having new experiences. But I do think that the older you become, the more you are set in your ways.

Even when my older clients hire me as their personal trainer, they tend to be more particular with their health and fitness journey, and I have to convince them to try other things. My partner is similar. I feel like he is very confident and doesn't question a lot of his beliefs.

For example, he is a big believer that "going with the flow" works best for him. So, he won't do anything until he feels that he should. That's because throughout his life, he has forced himself to get things done regardless of how he felt, and it made him feel worse. But I believe the opposite thing; I will stick to my schedule and my daily routine regardless of how I feel.

Another misconception about being in an age gap relationship is that younger girls tend to date older guys for their money. I think a lot of people have assumed that about us, and it's not true. I would never rely on somebody else financially. But I do think that some women do sometimes date older men for their money.

Vivian is in an Age Gap Relationship
Vivian Ngo pictured with her boyfriend, who is 21 years older than her. Vivian Ngo

I think that my partner and I encourage each other to grow. For example, he has no problem being confrontational, and that is my worst fear. But I have no problem being vulnerable and authentic, and that's his biggest fear. We give each other the confidence and the courage to be ourselves.

I would tell people who have a lot to say about age gap relationships that they shouldn't judge anything until they've experienced it themselves. That's what I've learned. Even when I read celebrity gossip, I judge their relationships without realizing, but I don't know what it's like to have a million eyes on me every day. Until I go through that, I really can't judge or understand what they go through.

An age gap means absolutely nothing to me in the context of a relationship. I look at how somebody has decided to take their life experiences, and whether they have chosen to learn from them. That's what matters to me. My partner and I don't argue. We have the least scandalous relationship ever. It's calm and stable; we complement each other.

Vivian Ngo is a business owner, a personal trainer, and a content creator. You can find out more about her here.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Newsweek associate editor, Carine Harb.

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