32-year age gap: ‘I fell in love with my teacher’

Vanessa Szabo was just 19 when she fell for teacher Geza, who was over 30 years older than her. But four years on, and with an 18-month-old son, the pair are more in love than ever...

real life age gap relationship student teacher

by Kate Graham and Kristina Beanland |
Updated on

When Vanessa Szabo, 22, goes out for a family walk with her husband, Geza, 54, and their 18-month-old son, Henrik, she knows they’ll get stared at. Because of their 32-year age gap, strangers often do a double take at silver fox Geza strolling hand in hand with Vanessa, who is young enough to be his daughter.

But despite the backlash they received from family and friends over their relationship, the pair insist they are blissfully happy.

Vanessa, who lives in Kent, says, “When Geza and I got together, we knew it would cause some raised eyebrows. Not only was he three decades older than me, but I’d been a student at the school he taught at just months earlier.

“But the love we felt for each other was real – and no matter how much we tried to deny it, we were drawn to each other.

“Now, we’ve been together for four years, and while we may have lost a few friends, we’ve got a wonderful marriage and a beautiful little boy. We’re very lucky.”

Vanessa didn’t meet her future husband until March 2018, during her final year of school when she was 19.

She says, “My school had single- sex PE classes, with the girls only being taught by female teachers, so while I’d heard of PE teacher Geza, or Mr Szabo as I knew him, he didn’t know me.

“But during this particular PE lesson, the teachers had organised a table-tennis tournament, and they’d asked Geza to compete.

“He was amazing at table tennis, and was beating everyone. But it definitely wasn’t love at first sight – I thought he was quite full of himself!”

real life age gap relationship closer magazine
The couple’s wedding day in 2020

That summer – after Vanessa left school – she decided to sign up to Geza’s tennis lessons.

She says, “Geza was a gentleman with a good sense of humour and he made me laugh all the time.

“I’d never fancied older men before and he was old enough to be my dad.”

But Vanessa soon learned she wasn’t the only one trying to hide her feelings. She says, “One day during a coaching lesson, Geza told me that he thought there was a spark between us. I was so taken aback I just laughed it off.

“But a couple of days later I sent him a message confessing that I had feelings for him, and he said he felt the same.”

Vanessa and Geza, who had previously been married for eight years and has two daughters older than Vanessa, arranged to meet at a local restaurant, but they were both plagued by doubt.

Vanessa says, “We knew people would think I had daddy issues, and that Geza would be called a creepy old man, but as I was no longer a student at the school, we had a right to be together.”

So the pair started dating. Vanessa says, “We kept our relationship secret and went to places on the other side of town, so we wouldn’t see anyone we knew.

“We loved spending time with each other and were so happy. Geza was different to younger guys I’d dated – he could make me laugh but we could have deep conversations, too.

“We were terrified about what people would think and there were times when we each broke it off, only to get back together again.”

After a month of dating, Vanessa, who was then working as a dental assistant, and Geza decided to come clean. Vanessa says, “My parents were upset. My dad, who is three years younger than Geza, told me I was stupid for thinking he wasn’t dating lots of younger girls. They tried to persuade me to break up with Geza. My brother was just as sceptical, and only my twin sister supported us.”

real life age gap relationship closer magazine
They say they don’t care about the age difference

Vanessa refused to break it off with Geza, but after the reaction from her parents the couple continued to lay low, and didn’t tell any other friends and family.

Vanessa says, “We moved in together, but Geza left his job at the school and began travelling around a lot to coach tennis, so it was easy to keep our relationship quiet – we didn’t put any pictures on social media and didn’t go out together where we knew lots of people would see.

“But despite everything, we stayed strong, and in August 2019, he took me on a romantic trip to Paris, and he proposed on top of the Eiffel Tower.”

But now that the pair were engaged, Vanessa wanted Geza to meet her family. She says, “It was tense. Dad shook Geza’s hand but the conversation was cold.

“After that, I posted pictures onto Facebook – announcing our relationship and engagement to the world. We got a mixed reaction. Some friends were supportive, but others distanced themselves, and Geza’s family, including his children, didn’t approve. But if anything, it brought us closer.”

Despite the critics, the pair started wedding planning. Vanessa says, “When I went shopping for my wedding dress, Geza came with me. The sales assistant looked at Geza, then turned to me and said, ‘Is this your proud father?’ When I laughed and told her the truth, she just awkwardly apologised.”

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Then, in January 2020, Vanessa found out she was pregnant. She says, “I knew Geza would make a great dad and I couldn’t wait to start a family with him. We knew he wouldn’t have as much time with our child compared to younger dads, but we tried not to think about it. The main thing I worried about was that Geza would be a much better parent than me because he was older and wiser.”

Vanessa gave birth to Henrik in August 2020 and, two days later, the pair got married at a register office.

Vanessa says, “Everyone was so surprised that I was still able to walk down in the aisle just days after giving birth. But I think being a young mum helped me recover quickly.

“My family came to the wedding, as did two of my friends and three of Geza’s. None of Geza’s family came. It was a lovely day and all of our guests could see how happy we were.”

Now, four years on, and the pair have settled into family life – they’re also writing a book about their relationship. Vanessa says, “Falling in love with my teacher means I’ve certainly ruffled a few feathers, and it’s taught us who our real friends are.

“But I have absolutely no regrets. Geza is my soulmate, and a wonderful father. We couldn’t be more in love.”

Geza says, “From the moment I met Vanessa, I was captivated by her personality. We’ve faced lots of challenges, but it’s only made us stronger.”

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