A woman wants to prove that age shouldn’t be a barrier to true love after proposing to her boyfriend who is 45 years her senior.
Rachael Chenault, 27, and her fiancé John Penzera, 72, have been engaged since May 2018 after she proposed to her former boss on a night out at a strip club.
Now the couple, from Pennsylvania, who first met three years ago, say they can’t wait to get married, claiming they are soulmates.
Chenault says she was instantly attracted to Penzera, despite him being 26 years older than her 46-year-old mother and almost 20 years older than her 55-year-old dad.
The couple first met when when Penzera interviewed Chenault for a job in December 2017, and both say the attraction between them was immediate.
“It was his mannerisms, the way he carried himself,” Chenault says. “It was an instant attraction for the both of us,” she recalls.
“I think we both knew how we felt straight away, but he was going through a divorce at the time, so I didn’t want to rush things, or be the one to make the first move.”
Chenault believes age shouldn’t come into it when it comes to relationships.
“My son’s father is 58 years old, so age gaps have never been a problem for me, but I definitely had no clue that John was as old as he is.
“I thought he was in his late forties or early fifties, because he does not look or act his age.”
Despite being concerned it may affect her job, Chenault says she was thrilled when Penzera kissed her a month after she’d been hired as a guard at the security firm he runs.
“It was like my dreams had come true,” she says. “It was like that movie moment when the guy grabs the girl and leans her over for a kiss.
“But I did then freak out because I was worried about getting fired.”
Overcoming her fears, a week later the pair went on their first date to a local bar, where they realised how much they had in common.
“We have the same taste in music. We both like classic rock. He was into motorcycles and I absolutely love them. And we both have the same fashion style,” she said.
“We just kept talking and haven’t stopped since.”
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A month later, the pair officially became boyfriend and girlfriend, but kept the relationship quiet for two years until John’s divorce was finalised.
Then they broke the news to John’s 28-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter, who were just pleased to see their dad happy.
“It was never an issue, I did not think it was weird at all. When I do see his children, we get along well,” Rachael added.
The pair got engaged in May 2018 after Chenault planned an unconventional proposal at a strip club.
“It was not a traditional proposal by any stretch of the imagination.
“We were with a bunch of friends at a strip club and I had ordered a ring online, which I had with me. I’m terrible at keeping secrets and was worried about ruining the surprise, so it was a bit spontaneous.
“I arranged for him to have an exotic dance with three beautiful dancers. He was sitting on the stage in front of a room full of people when, fully clothed, I joined the three naked dancers and proposed to him there and then.
“It’s definitely not the traditional way to do it. He had no choice and said yes straight away!”
A week later, having already brought a ring with the intention of proposing himself, Penzera also got down on one knee at Rachael’s favourite childhood haunt.
Although the couple have been accepted by friends and family, they do get the odd comment from strangers who assume they are father and daughter.
“We don’t even listen to it, we just shrug it off,” she said. “Anyway, more often than not people tell us how good we look together.
“To us, age is just a number. He’s my soulmate and the love of my life.”
Chenault’s only fear about their age gap is that she will lose John too soon.
She said: “I know he’s not going to live forever, which is something I worry about every day.
“But all that aside, it’s so nice to be with someone older because they have their head together. He’s mature and has opened my eyes to new experiences.
“I have no intention of being with anyone else even after he has gone. I know nobody could compare to him.
“It does put a dread on things if you think too far ahead, but I try not to. I have him now and I’m thankful for him.
“We have an incredibly close relationship. It’s scarily close, we can both read even a slight change in mood in the other.”
She continued: “And we have a phenomenal sex life, too. Age has nothing to do with that, we are spontaneous and can’t keep our hands off each other.”
Penzera, who as well as serving in the US army worked as a prison officer before running his security firm, also believes age shouldn’t get in the way of true love.
“I was attracted by her demeanour, the way she carried herself. She was a fast learner and so easy to talk to,” he says of his fiancée.
“I was a bit concerned because of the age difference, but it didn’t bother her at all. We don’t look at it as being a major difference. We continue like any other couple.
“People tell us we make a good-looking couple. I look 20 to 30 years younger, so people rarely question it. My kids had no concerns about it, either.
“Rachael’s my life, she’s beautiful, intelligent, sexy and I love her.
“I wasn’t looking for love, but she came into my life and it’s just got better and better. I can’t wait to marry her.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life.