Little Women star Florence Pugh, 27, and fellow actor Zach Braff, 47, sparked plenty of conversation when they began dating, a union that is believed to have begun in 2019. They quietly split last year, although fans had speculated they might have broken up for a while, before Miss Flo’ confirmed to Harper's Bazaar in September – check out our relationship timeline for the full story.
From the get-go, fans were vocal about the age gap. Many suggested that the relationship could not be equal, given the difference in life (and love) experience between Zach and Flo. In 2021, Florence defended the relationship, saying; “I've always found it funny, how I can be good enough for people to watch my work, and support my work, and pay for tickets, and I'm old enough to be an adult and pay taxes, but I'm not old enough to know who I should and should not have sex with.”
The pair have remained friendly post-split, and Florence’s feelings about the topic don’t seem to have changed. In an interview accompanying her cover shoot for Vogue, she told the magazine that she still refers to Zach’s kitchen and garden as “her” kitchen and garden. “My breakup has been very new, so I’m figuring that out,” she added.
Addressing the criticism the relationship received, she said; “They imagined me with someone younger and someone in blockbusters. I think young relationships in Hollywood are so easily twisted because they add to the gossip sites. It’s exciting to watch. And I think I was in a relationship that didn’t do any of that.”
It’s true that Florence and Zach were particularly private about their romance. The couple rarely appeared together on the red carpet or at events, and perhaps the initial backlash she received online played a part in that. After an influx of angry comments on a birthday Insta post about Zach, the Don’t Worry Darling leading lady told The Sunday Times; “That’s so not my nature - to go and bully for the sake of bullying. It’s such an odd thing that we’ve become OK with in the past ten years of social media.”
Florence and Zach’s aren’t the only celeb (ex)couple to have made waves due to their age difference. Billie Eilish (21) has made headlines after going public about her relationship with the lead singer of the Neighbourhood, Jesse Rutherford (31). Despite Billie being vocal about who pursued who - “I pulled his a**! All me! I did that s**t! I locked that motherf**ker down!” she told Vanity Fair – fans on TikTok were quick to point out the power imbalance of a man in his 30s dating a 20-year-old.
The debate around these relationships have sparked some interesting questions about autonomy and power. How do we acknowledge the precedent of older men dating younger, more naïve women (often in order to get away with behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated by women their own age), without infantilizing young women and denying their ability to choose for themselves? How does status – Florence and Billie are undoubtedly more famous than Zach and Jesse – play a part? As Cosmopolitan UK's Sex and Relationship editor Paige Vahla explores, financial worries, particularly that young women might end up financially dependent on (and unable to leave) their older partners, are far less relevant in these situations.
As for Florence, she’s finding her feet in a new apartment in London and looking forward to the future, saying; “You know, you have a daydream when you start out: What is it that means you’ve made it? What is it that means you are an adult? For me it was: You live close to your friends and you have a local pub.”
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