A 28-year-old who is dating a man 48 years her senior admits that strangers regularly mistake her for her 76-year-old boyfriend’s caregiver – but she insists that the couple are blissfully happy, despite her fears that he will die in just a few years.
Kelsey Hopeful, from La Jolla, San Diego, met widower Guy BonGiovanni, from Anchorage, Alaska, in a yoga class – which he attended in the hopes of finding some inner peace after the devastating loss of his wife of 42 years.
After striking up a conversation post-class, special education teacher Kelsey and photographer Guy quickly became firm friends – and while they admit now that there was an instant attraction between them, they say it was not love at first sight.
However, over the next two years, Guy and Kelsey’s friendship began to develop into a romance – and the couple are now in a live-in relationship, despite admitting that they have faced criticism from family members over their large age gap.
Unlikely romance: A 28-year-old woman has opened up about her age-gap romance with a man who is 48 years her senior
Sparks: Kelsey Hopeful, 28, and her boyfriend Guy BonGiovanni, 76, met in a yoga class – which he was taking to try and get over the loss of his wife of 42 years
Kelsey and Guy now share beautiful times together, whether it be watching plays, going for hikes or exploring new cities and states. However, for Kelsey, these wonderful moments have been tinged with sadness because she knows that she is unlikely to grow old with the love of her life.
For the first year of their relationship, Kelsey did not tell anyone that she had met Guy – concerned that her friends and family would respond negatively at the news that she was seeing a man almost half a century her senior.
However, Kelsey has been gradually learning the art of not being concerned about what others think and in the spring of 2020, decided to tell her family, one at a time, about their relationship.
According to Kelsey, the hardest person to tell was her 76-year-old grandma – who had herself married a much older man and has struggled to cope with the loss of the love of her life in the 26 years since his death.
When out together, Kelsey and Guy admit that strangers might think that she is his caregiver but when they have introduced themselves as a couple, they fortunately have received no snarky remarks. This is something that Kelsey believes is because strangers realize how happy they are together regardless of their age gap.
‘On a Thursday evening, I decided to try something new and chose a yoga class at my local gym,’ said Kelsey. ‘I started to examine my surroundings and the people in the class.
‘Eventually, my eyes made contact with a man I thought was actor and comedian George Carlin. He picked up his mat and moved it right next to me. I thought, “Uh oh.”
Slow build: The duo initially formed a friendship, but over the course of two years, they developed romantic feelings for one another
Under cover: Kelsey admits that she kept her romance a secret for a year, over fears that her family and friends would judge the age gap
Fears: She was particularly worried about telling her grandmother – who is the same age as Guy – because she also married an older man, and was left heartbroken when he passed away
‘Once the class was over, Guy asked if I would like to be his friend. I was taken aback because it was a simple question, one that I have seen children ask of other children.
‘We talked alone in that gym for two hours and when he said his goodbyes, he just walked away. There were no phone numbers asked for, nor last names, no guarantees that we would ever see each other again. That is how the story of us began.
‘It was not love at first sight but more of a recognition of each other.
‘We took our time walking our way into love. At first, the attraction for me was the sound of his voice and his ability to tell a story. I could listen to him for hours.
‘In the earliest steps of our relationship, I would cry alone about our 48-year age gap.
‘We had beautiful times together watching plays, going for hikes, or finding pastry shops, but tears would come.
‘I can remember we were eating pastries in Santa Monica and I began to cry in front of him and not because I had just tasted the best rum-ball in my life, but because I was experiencing joy on another level and then suddenly I remembered that he is 48 years older than me and he has fewer summers ahead of him than I do.
‘I now tell him when I am scared of losing him, because one day there is going to be a time in my life that he won’t be with me anymore and I want him to know now that I was always open and real with him and that he feels my appreciation and love. I pray for that each day.
Whoops: Kelsey and Guy say they are blissfully happy – despite admitting that strangers will mistake Kelsey for her boyfriend’s caregiver
Upset: Special education teacher Kelsey also admits that she has cried over their age gap, because she knows it means that Guy will likely die before her
Opening up: ‘I now tell him when I am scared of losing him, because one day there is going to be a time in my life that he won’t be with me anymore,’ she explained
‘Guy, being old and wise, tells me that there is no point in crying about death until it happens and that we need to be here now and love each other as much as we can.
‘When the friendship blossomed into us becoming lovers, it was important to me that we kept the opinions of others away from my ears, especially in the beginning.
‘When we first met, I was a person who was concerned about the opinions of others and was a people-pleaser.
‘For the first year of our relationship, I didn’t tell anyone.
‘After getting to know Guy, he became my greatest motivator to learn how to live more true to my heart and not be afraid to be who you are.
‘I knew I would have to learn how not to be concerned about society’s rules and what others may think about me or why they think I am in a relationship with an older man.
‘When it was time for me to share with my family about my relationship with Guy, it was because of the pandemic.
‘The COVID-19 virus was mostly infecting the elderly and I was worried, so I chose to discuss our relationship one at a time with my family.
‘The most complicated talk for me was with my maternal grandmother because she fell in love with a man 18 years older and she has been his widow for 26 years.
‘She would confide with me in my teens that at times, she wished she could have found a companion to spend more time with her.
Bond: The couple share a passion for the great outdoors, and regularly go on hikes together
Lessons: Kelsey says that Guy has taught her not to fear age
Inspiration: ‘He is the most important person in my life and the best example of how to age healthy and be happy at any stage in one’s life,’ she said
‘I think I felt I would be just like her, with only one love in my life.
‘When we are in public, there is a good chance that people from a distance may think I am Guy’s caregiver.
‘Even when we explain we are a couple, we have received no snarky comments or facial expressions of horror.
‘We’re better together and I think people feel that when they meet us and see how happy we are.’
For Kelsey, one of the best things about being in an age gap relationship is learning to value the time the couple spend together and any previous fears she had of growing old have all but dissipated since meeting Guy. The couple are inseparable and are even considering getting married.
‘Another benefit to our age gap is that we think about what’s my time worth on earth today,’ Kelsey said.
‘Guy has an ocean’s worth of life experiences, but he shares his wisdom with spontaneity and care.
‘He is the most important person in my life and the best example of how to age healthy and be happy at any stage in one’s life.
‘I am no longer afraid to grow into an old woman anymore.’