Maisie Smith has defended the 13-year age gap in her relationship as she reveals she has developed a "thick skin" to cope with the criticism.
The actress, 21, started dating The Wanted singer Max George, 34, last summer after meeting on Strictly Come Dancing.
Speaking to The Sun On Sunday's Fabulous magazine, she said: “People don’t understand what goes on behind closed doors in a relationship, and I think they also forget that I’m a consenting 21-year-old woman who’s actually been working longer than Max."
She insisted that her friends and family don't "notice the age difference", with her mother Julia telling her to "ignore" the comments on social media.
Smith continued: "I really don’t care what a random person thinks of my relationship when everyone I do care about is incredibly supportive. I’ve been in the business long enough to know you have to have a thick skin.”
The star – who rose to fame starring in EastEnders – was partnered up on the hit BBC show with professional dancer Kai Widdrington when she started a friendship with George, who was partnered with Dianne Buswell.
She added: "What’s really nice is there was never any intention. We met each other, had a laugh, became best friends, and then two years down the line realised there was so much more."
The couple saw their romance blossom during a cast and crew holiday to Portugal after performing on the 2022 Strictly tour.
Smith's comments on the age gap in her relationship come after Madonna recently began dating Josh Popper.
The singer, 64, confirmed her relationship with the boxer, 29, with a kiss on Instagram earlier this month.
In December, Catherine Zeta-Jones joked about her large age gap with her husband Michael Douglas on Late Night With Seth Meyers.
The actress, 53, revealed that she shared the exact same birthday as the actor, 78, wryly noting: “25 years difference. Not the same day.”
Watch: Catherine Zeta-Jones pokes fun at Michael Douglas age gap