Avalon Garvey, now 19, was in sixth form in Bradford, West Yorkshire, when she first met 44-year-old Doug Traser, from San Francisco, California, in an online forum in June 2016.
Doug was 29 years her senior and older than her own dad.
However, despite their age difference, Avalon and Doug hit it off immediately while discussing their love of music.
Avalon, who is now in first year studying fine art at university in York, North Yorkshire, said she was seeing someone her own age when she first met Doug.
“For three years I had seen this person, but I wasn’t really into it and so I eventually ended things with this boyfriend.”
“It was going down a rocky path. It was very difficult to tell them I wasn’t seeing them anymore.”
Doug, who works in IT, was honest about his age and location.
An optimistic Avalon said:
“When I first messaged him, he confronted me with his age and straight away and told me he had kids. So, I did know about his age straight away, but it was never intended to be anything but a friendship. We were just looking for some kind of escape.
“But we just found each other, and now – here we are, years later, and so happy.”
A few months after they began chatting online, Doug flew to Leeds, West Yorkshire, where he met 17-year-old Avalon. For Avalon, it was love at first sight and they had sex for the first time on that trip.
“I knew I loved him as soon as I saw him,” she explained. “I was 17. 16 was the age you could legally have sex, so it was completely legal.”
Describing their sex life, she said: “When we are together it is extravagant, it is good. He knows what he is doing, I am happy.”
Now the couple meet every other month, with her flying to California and him to the UK. Her mum has met and likes him, and she has been introduced to his children from his two previous marriages, who are aged 24, 22, and 12.
She explained: “At first there was a lot of judgement. At uni I didn’t know anybody and I decided I was going to be 100 per cent honest. I was going to say, ‘This is who I am, this is who I love.’ Now, I have the best friends, who accept it all.”
Her friends at university have also met Doug and they like him.
“They went on a night out, he was there and it wasn’t awkward at all,” she said.
But there are times when Doug gets mistaken for her dad.
Avalon recalls: “There was one time, we were in California, and I was giving a waitress a tip. She said ‘is that your dad?’ But I don’t care what people think. It’s my relationship, it is not a random person’s relationship. I get stares and I will rub it in their face and give him a cuddle. I am happy so why does it matter what anyone else thinks?”
Speaking of their relationship, Doug said: “We want the world to know that our relationship is something absolutely wonderful to us.”