Couple branded 'sick' over 23-year age gap

Online trolls are constantly attacking the unlikely pair.

A woman who is in a relationship with a man nearly twice her age has revealed that she is often mistaken for his daughter. Aaliya Lara, 25, and her husband, Steve Lara, 48, have been together for just under two years, and the pair got married last August in Las Vegas.

Since tying the knot, Aaliya says she has found "a deep sense of peace", but the 23-year age gap has resulted in a few rather awkward encounters. She has been mistaken for being her husband's daughter, which isn't surprising as his own daughter is just a year older than her.

The couple have gone viral on TikTok, with trolls slamming their relationship as "sick". But the duo hopes to set the record straight and prove that love is love, regardless of age differences.

Age gap couple in holiday photos
Aaliya and Steve Lara turn heads wherever they go due to their age gap. Source: Jam Press

Couple mercilessly trolled

"Many times people have told him that his daughters — referring to me and my five-year-old — are beautiful and I quickly let them know I'm his wife," Aaliya, from Southern California told Need To Know.

"At restaurants, they will ask if I need a child's menu. I don't consider these comments negative, but they are very embarrassing.

"Since I've posted our relationship online though, the negative comments have been plentiful. [We get] comments like, 'This is sick', 'He's a predator', 'He will leave you for someone younger when you get older', and many more that I try to block as soon as they pop up.

"I think the most negative, hateful comment I've received was along the lines of 'Bruce Willis got dementia and his young wife left him, she's going to do the same thing. From the outside looking in, I guess our relationship can seem shallow. But it breaks my heart for someone to even speak something like dementia into existence for the man I love. On top of that, the statement is completely untrue," she said.

Going the distance

"I've taken into consideration everything that comes with dating a man older than me. It may sound naive, but I am prepared to deal with whatever is thrown at us and intend to take care of him until his last breath. No matter how difficult it may get because that's the kind of connection we've built in our friendship way before getting married."

Age gap couple at lunch
Aaliyah says she's often mistaken for Steve's daughter. Source: Jam Press

Despite the negativity they have faced, Aaliya insists the positive always outweighs the bad, including support from their followers. She said: "My favourite comment was, 'I can tell he loves you so much by the look in his eyes'. We've received a lot of support online from couples in their own age-gap relationships.

"While I didn't intend to be one of the faces of age-gap love, I'm happy to step up and prove to the doubters that our love is real."

Not your typical love story

The couple first met when Steve was in LA for a business meeting and Aaliya "caught his eye" in September 2019. Aaliya, who is mum to daughter, Addilyn, said: "At first there was no real connection beyond a normal physical attraction, but he was attractive enough that I gave him my number when he asked, and after some back-and-forth texting, I went on a date with him."

The pair have gone from strength to strength since, tying the knot last August, with Steve residing with Aaliya and Addilyn. Steve helped tremendously with parenting as Aaliya was raising Addilyn alone financially, physically and emotionally until he stepped up.

Trying for a baby

"Addilyn loves Steve very deeply. One of the reasons we married so soon is because we've been trying since November 2021 to have a child of our own," Aaliya explained. "We're hoping to start looking into fertility help soon."

Age gap couple and daughter with dolphin at marine wildlife park
Steve is close with Aaliyah's daughter Addilyn. Source: Jam Press

Steve is also a dad to Adrianna, 26, and Cristian, 22, from a previous relationship. "I've met them both, but have not yet had the chance to build a relationship with them," Aaliya said. "I understand this might be a little weird for them and they might not be sure of my intentions for their father."

Aaliya also shared some of the benefits of having such a large age gap. "Some of the best parts for me of being in an age-gap relationship is the wisdom and stability my partner has," she said. "There were many things I didn't learn or know when we met and he has really opened my mind to how limitless we all really are in life.

"None of my family who lives in California own their homes, my husband has owned many and we currently own the home we live in, and that gives me a deep sense of joy and stability that I needed growing up.

Husband can't keep up with young wife

"Some of the worst parts are mostly problems I create. I am only 25 and sometimes I want to stay up all night and giggle in bed or watch TV and my husband just can't keep up with that — he needs his rest.

"It's not so much our age that gets in the way, but my lack of responsibilities and his over-abundance of responsibilities. I'm fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mother and not have to work, and that just gets a little boring sometimes when he's gone at work and my daughter is at school."

Photo of man in 1998; photo of baby in 1998
Aaliyah made light of her and Steve's unusual relationship on social media. Source: Jam Press

Advice for age-gap couples

She also shared some sage advice for dating older men. "It is true that some men have bad intentions when it comes to dating younger women. I've dated men older than my husband and they were not the right fit. Don’t allow yourself to be used nor abused. Find someone who truly loves you and supports you," she advised.

"It's really in the small details where you will find the answer to whether a person is right for you or not. For the people who create stigmas around age-gap relationships, I would just say I hope that you can find the love that we're experiencing one day."


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