When 24-year-old Najilah Muhammad went partying with her girlfriends, she never dreamed that she would meet the love of her life on the dance floor. She probably also didn’t think he would be exactly twice her age, but that’s exactly what happened.
The American first saw John Malott while on the dance floor on an August evening in 2016. She says as soon as she clapped eyes on the dapper gentleman she was smitten.
“We met, danced, laughed and literally became inseparable since that day,” she said.
“I didn’t expect I would fall in love within weeks of dating. It was almost love at first sight – within weeks actually.”
The only problem? John is 48 years-old, meaning the pair have a 24 year age gap that often raises even the most liberal of eyebrows. Najilah says because of this, it hasn’t been an easy ride for the couple who recently got engaged.
People tried to destroy the relationship
“When people found out about us, they would find ways to try to destroy our relationship,” the entrepreneur and fitness coach disclosed, adding people went so far as to spread salacious rumours in a bid to tear the couple apart.
“People would lie that John was seeing other girls,” she said, though in every instance John proved himself loyal and trustworthy.
It wasn’t only strangers that expressed reservations however, the pair’s families were disapproving of the match to begin with.
“At first our families were shocked,” she admitted. “(They) were disappointed and didn’t understand.”
John has four daughters who are closer to Najilah’s age than he is, and she says this was initially a major issue.
“In the beginning of our relationship it was tough for the daughter who is closest to my age, so she refused to meet me or talk to me,” she said, adding her own family also expressed their reservations.
Their love won
In the end however, Najilah says their love won through.
“Eventually most of our family came around to the idea of us once they knew how serious we were about each other,” she said.
She’s also developed a close friendship with her soon to be step-daughters, and they even hit the clubs together.
“(After we got to know each other) we all feel pretty close and talk frequently,” she says. “Now they say that they are very happy for their dad and we all party together when we get together.”
Najilah’s family were even there to watch John pop the question when he whisked them away on a family holiday to his villa in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.
But the hate hurts
Sadly, Najilah says it’s not just their age gap which has raised issues.
People accuse Najilah of chasing John’s money, not his heart, and unbelievably, some are turned off the match by the couple’s racial difference.
The hatred can border on abuse, and she says it’s taken a toll.
“People sometimes laugh or give dirty stares as if they’re confused. The most common things people say are ‘why are you with that old man?’ and ‘you’re a gold digger’,” she says, pointing out she runs her own business independently of John.
“The stares, the uncomfortableness in social settings, the outright hate of our relationship to our faces and especially on social media has been difficult,” she admits.
Despite the difficulty Najilah says the couple responded with an ‘us against the world’ mentality that gave them a strong foundation.
Now they are determined to forge ahead. On the horizon is their wedding, shared business plans, and maybe even a brand new addition.
“We most definitely want to have children,” she says, and it seems the extended family are all on board.
“His youngest daughter is very eager to be a big sister and asks me almost every time when we are having a baby,” she says.
If that happens any time soon Najilah will have the same age gap with her child as she does with her husband.
But if their love story is anything to go by, perhaps age really is nothing but a number.
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