A woman has revealed how her toyboy lover – 19 years her junior – calls her ‘mum’ when they kiss in public to “freak out” strangers.
Alice Lord, 50, said people often mistake Ben Sharp, 31, for her son and so they like to have a bit of fun with it – insisting age is just a number.
The couple, from Stafford, Staffordshire, met at an open mic night in August 2019 through a mutual friend and spent the evening chatting and quickly fell in love.
But having moved in together last autumn and gained the approval of close pals and family, other people often gawk at them.
Account manager Alice said one time a group of girls began staring at them as they hugged outside a pub and so Ben kissed her and said: “That’s why Dad doesn’t let you drink!”
The girls went bright red and since then Ben has made it his mission to leave judgemental strangers gobsmacked, particularly as the unwanted attention used to upset his partner.
But Alice has now learned to hold her head with pride, despite the disapproval of others.
“I’ve recently turned 50 and I know Ben loves me for who I am, not a silly number,” she said.
“Who cares if he’s young enough to be my son? We’re having the time of our lives.”
Alice said she thought Ben was “gorgeous” when she spotted him from across the pub nearly three years ago and was flattered when he playfully guessed she was only 22.
She still felt the sales assistant was simply “too young” for her at first, and never dreamed what would come next.
Their mutual friend left them alone and the smitten pair began to learn all about each other.
Alice told Ben how she’d been divorced for 14 years and has a then-20-year-old daughter with Asperger’s, and with home schooling it had been difficult to meet someone new.
“To my surprise, Ben was an amazing listener,” she recalled, adding: “That night we kissed and he walked me home.”
As Alice and Ben said their goodbyes, they exchanged numbers.
“It was such an unexpected evening,” Alice continued.
“But I didn’t expect to hear from him again because I thought there was no way he’d want to date a 48-year-old.
“But days later, he asked me out.
“I couldn’t believe it.”
The following week, the pair met up for drinks.
They quickly became an item and weeks later Alice told her daughter, Jasmine, who is only nine years younger than her new ‘stepdad’.
Despite feeling nervous about coming clean, the mum was “relieved” when her daughter approved, and not long after the three met at a cafe, and Ben and Jasmine really hit it off.
Alice said: “After that, Ben brought out an adventurous side of me I hadn’t felt in years.”
But it wasn’t until September 2019 that the couple finally revealed their relationship to the rest of their family and friends.
“My friends kept joking that Ben was my ‘toyboy'”, said Alice.
“Others laughed and said ‘Enjoy it while it lasts’ which did upset me.
“But I was determined to prove them wrong.”
She said Ben’s dad even asked him if he was embarrassed to be seen out with Alice, but while it hurt, she put it down to initial shock.
In October last year, Ben moved in with Alice and Jasmine.
But it was from then that the the couple began receiving dirty looks from strangers and after the pub incident Ben “loved to freak out strangers by calling me ‘Mum'”, said Alice.
“I guess it was just his way of dealing with it.
“Sometimes I’d get embarrassed but then I’d realise, at least we could make a joke of it.”
Alice said previously she “hated” the stares and at one point a vet mistook her for his mum.
But that humiliation spurred her to fight back and later that year it happened again at her work Christmas party and so she proudly announced him as her partner, not her child.
“If people can’t get their heads around it, that’s their problem,” she said, adding: “I love Ben so much and we’re happy, so that’s all that matters.”