A COUPLE with a 27-year age gap have revealed how they plan to get married and start a family together after meeting on Instagram.
54-year-old entrepreneur Robert Croak and 27-year-old social media influencer, Sophia Spallino have become inseparable after weeks of Facetiming followed by a 1,000-mile journey for their first date.
The couple's whirlwind romance began in November 2018 when Ohio-based Robert started following Sophia on Instagram.
Sliding into Sophia's DMs, the influencer from Louisiana was taken aback by Robert at first, due to his age, but before she knew it they were Facetiming each other for hours every day.
And after a month of video calls, Sophia travelled 1,100 miles to Robert's hometown of Toledo for their very first date.
Now, the pair are inseparable and are even planning marriage and kids within the next two years.
“We met November of last year; Robert was working on launching a project in Hollywood, and I was in my hometown in South Louisiana,” Sophia explained.
“Robert’s long-time friend happens to share the same name as my father and also has a niece that shares the same name as me.
“When Robert came across my Instagram profile; he took a screenshot of it and texted it to his friend asking if this is his niece all grown up. His friend replied, ‘No, but she’s pretty hot.’
“I noticed when Robert followed me on social media. I was curious as to why a man his age would follow me because my target audience is young women who like posts about fashion and spirituality.
“Robert complimented my efforts as a budding influencer, and our mutual passion for entrepreneurship was the foundation of a beautiful friendship that quickly blossomed into a romance."
Sophia explained that within seven days, the pair were spending hours every day on Facetime.
“Within a week, we were conversing for hours a day via Facetime, getting to know one another. One month later, I met Robert in his hometown in Toledo," Sophia continued.
“Since I googled Robert and Facetimed him so often, I immediately felt safe when he picked me up at the airport for our first dinner date.
“He leaned over the table and asked if he could hold both of my hands. I remember him saying, ‘We are finally here (in person) with each other, and the nerves are gone.’
“Later that evening, he asked if he could kiss me; I remember closing my eyes, taking in the moment, and he said, ‘Give me your eyes.’
“I remember this intense moment of pure connection as we shared that first kiss, both looking deeply at each other and feeling so close.
“Since then, we don’t spend much time apart; we work and play together every single day.
"I am so blessed to do what I love with the man I love every day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“What attracted me to him was his heart; when I first met him in person, and he took me out in his town, I watched how everyone, the valet, the servers, his friends interacting around him.
“To know Robert is to love him; he makes everyone laugh and treats everyone with kindness; even animals and that means a lot to me."
Sophia explained that at first, she kept her relationship with Robert secret until they were both ready and "confident" they wanted to spend their lives together.
And while they do receive the odd judgemental looks from strangers, the pair say they were brought together for a reason.
“At first, I kept our relationship a secret from my friends and online followers; Robert was a mystery man and I would blur out his face until we were ready, confident we were pursuing a life-long partnership, and ready to address the age gap publicly," explained Sophia.
“Everyone was just so excited we are happy; that kind of happy makes other people happy.
"We talk about the future all the time. Within the next two years, we plan on engagement, marriage, and a baby. Just one. We both want just one.
“My family was a bit hesitant to believe that this could work long-term. But about six months into the relationship, they met Robert.
“After meeting Robert, you realise he is a thirty-four-year-old in a fifty-four-year-old’s body but with much more respect and honour for women.
"Everyone loves him; now everyone is waiting for a ring, wedding bells, and a baby.
“I have an old soul; I’ve always been that way. I’ve never been best friends with girls my own age and would stay inside during recess to hang out with my teachers.
“I guess you could say I’ve had age gap friendships my whole life. I also love old music and vintage fashion.
"It seems natural for me to not even be attracted to a song my age group likes, much less a man."
And the pair are adamant that age is just a number, with Sophia explaining: “Life is too short to say, ‘No, we can’t be together based on numbers’, I found him when I needed him the most and he found me.
"In a way, we saved each other and made one another believe in unconditional love again.
"This isn’t arranged. Robert’s not a sugar daddy. Falling in love was a total accident and for the longest time, we thought we would just be friends, because how could two people 25 years apart create a life together? Well, we found a way to make it.”
And speaking about what first attracted him to Sophia, Robert says the 27-year-old "doesn't give herself enough credit"
“She is talented, creative, and smart," he said.
"People don’t give her enough credit and she doesn’t give herself enough credit, but I am helping her see her true self; a brilliant woman.
“My friends would have been shocked if I were with someone with less than a ten-year age gap. I just have a young spirit.
“Sophia says I act younger than her when it comes to my taste in music and pop culture or knowledge in technology.
“Attraction should be based on compatibility, not society’s antiquated thoughts regarding the criteria for what a loving relationship should be.
"I love Sophia to the moon and back. Anyone who sees us for a minute will know it.”
In other relationship news, we told you how one mum threatened to dump her ‘a******e’ fiance for buying a fridge safe to stop her stealing his chocolate.
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