A teenager who moved to another country to be with her 34 years older ‘man of her dreams’ defies the critics and parents disapproval to start wedding plans.
Michaela Matson, 19, from Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa, is madly in love with truck driver fiancé William Maldera, 53, after meeting on an ‘emotion venting’ app last year.
She was initially attracted to his ‘handsome’ photo online and after months speaking multiple times per week over video chat, they decided to meet.
But after telling her parents about William, they told her to end the relationship, took her passport away and sent her to a psychologist.
Determined and love-struck Michaela went against their wishes to get her passport reissued and flew 1,500 miles to be with her other half in Alberta, Canada.
Two-months-ago, the pair with a 34-year age gap got engaged, but say they are holding off on the nuptials until next year when Michaela’s parents have had time to ‘adapt to the situation’.
Until then the couple who are affectionate in public ‘laugh it off’ when they are confused for ‘father and daughter’ rather than future husband and wife.
Michaela, a photography student, said: “The first time I saw William’s photo, I was thinking ‘Wow, he’s handsome’ and was attracted to him straight away.
“I liked his nose, it’s cute and crooked because his mom broke it as a child, then he has the most gorgeous light brown eyes that are completely breath-taking.
“I didn’t know who he was at first but he caught my eye and after we started talking more and more, gradually I realised I was falling for this man.
“We were video calling on Facebook almost daily, if not three to four times a week, dependent on his work and my school schedule.
“He made the first big move by saying ‘I love you’ and I said it back a month later, he hit all the right areas with me apart from me living in South Africa and him in Canada.
“My plan was to go and visit him without telling my mom other than leaving a note, but my man wanted me to tell her before I left.
“My mom and William wanted me to tell my dad, I had a bad feeling about telling him and I have never seen him so upset in my life.
“He threatened to disown me if I decided to keep dating William
“Then I was sent to see a psychologist, who agreed with what my parents wanted that I had to ‘end it’ with William.
“Whenever I was texting him, my dad asked if I was talking to ‘the piece of ****’
“Because I had given my mom my passport after telling my parents about what should have been my vacation with William, I had to apply for a new one and set aside money for myself to move in with him.
“As soon as I saw him I dropped my luggage and ran, I was so excited and overwhelmed to finally meet him face to face.
“When he met me at the airport he made me feel like I was at home and it’s been great ever since, a few months ago he asked me to be his wife, I couldn’t ask for a better man as a husband.
“We are hoping to get married next August or September, I want to wait for my family to come around a little more and adapt.
“I left the wrong way, but my parents are slowly accepting is and told me ‘It’s my life’, and neither want to lose me.”
Michaela says that since moving to be with her fiancé, she notices people giving her weird looks for dating someone older than her.
As well as regularly having to correct unknowing strangers that William is actually her fiancé and not her father.
Michaela said: “We don’t expect people to know we are engaged, and not father and daughter because age gap relationships aren’t typical, we try not to let it bother us.
“I’ve been called his daughter quite a few times, but he proudly tells them he’s my fiancé, other times we laugh it off while they apologise.
“Normally if I notice anyone giving us a nasty glare I don’t care I just find it funny how others can judge us so quickly despite now who we are.
“We don’t hide our relationship at all and we do show affection to one another in public, but due to living in the middle of nowhere we are not out in public all the time.”
Michaela says friends often quiz her about intimate aspects of their relationship and don’t understand how two people over three decades apart could have ‘anything in common’.
They challenge the misconceptions and say they can’t wait to wed next year.
She added: “There’s so much we both like and have in common it’s like we are in sync with one another.
“We have more in common than we don’t have, we both love European food, expensive cars and music, I play the violin and he’s been singing for a long time.
“It’s hard for some people to understand age-gap relationships, but William and I are really happy, we can’t wait to be married.”