By Liana Jacob


MEET THE FIFTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD MAN who followed a woman HALF HIS AGE on INSTAGRAM and after a month of FACETIMING each other they had their first date where she travelled over ONE-THOUSAND MILES and have been together ever since.

In November 2018, serial entrepreneur and business owner of Sillybandz, Robert Croak (54) from Ohio, USA, came across a young social media influencer, Sophia Spallino (27) from Louisiana, USA, on Instagram who he thought was one of his friends’ niece. He took a screenshot of her picture and sent it to his friend, who told him she wasn’t his niece.

So, he followed her on Instagram and sent her a message admiring her efforts as a budding influencer. While Sophia was initially taken aback by him approaching her due to his age, they connected instantly and before they knew it, they were Facetiming each other for hours every day for a month.

Robert pictured kissing Sophia. MDWfeatures / Sophia Spallino

They both then felt ready to meet up and Sophia travelled over 1,100 miles by plane to his hometown to meet him for their first date. After a successful first date, they became inseparable and are now planning on getting engaged, married and becoming parents within the next two years.

“We met November of last year; Robert was working on launching a project in Hollywood, and I was in my hometown in South Louisiana,” Sophia said.

“Robert’s long-time friend happens to share the same name as my father and also has a niece that shares the same name as me.

“When Robert came across my Instagram profile; he took a screenshot of it and texted it to his friend asking if this is his niece all grown up. His friend replied, ‘No, but she’s pretty hot.’

“I noticed when Robert followed me on social media. I was curious as to why a man his age would follow me because my target audience is young women who like posts about fashion and spirituality.

A picture of Sophia. MDWfeatures / Sophia Spallino

“Robert complimented my efforts as a budding influencer, and our mutual passion for entrepreneurship was the foundation of a beautiful friendship that quickly blossomed into a romance.

“Within a week, we were conversing for hours a day via Facetime, getting to know one another. One month later, I met Robert in his hometown in Toledo.

“Since I googled Robert and facetimed him so often, I immediately felt safe when he picked me up at the airport for our first dinner date.

“He leaned over the table and asked if he could hold both of my hands. I remember him saying, ‘We are finally here (in person) with each other, and the nerves are gone.’

“Later that evening, he asked if he could kiss me; I remember closing my eyes, taking in the moment, and he said, ‘Give me your eyes.’

“I remember this intense moment of pure connection as we shared that first kiss, both looking deeply at each other and feeling so close.

“Since then, we don’t spend much time apart; we work and play together every single day. I am so blessed to do what I love with the man I love every day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A picture of Robert. MDWfeatures / Sophia Spallino

“What attracted me to him was his heart; when I first met him in person, and he took me out in his town, I watched how everyone, the valet, the servers, his friends interacting around him.

“To know Robert is to love him; he makes everyone laugh and treats everyone with kindness — even animals and that means a lot to me.

“At first, I kept our relationship a secret from my friends and online followers; Robert was a mystery man and I would blur out his face until we were ready, confident we were pursuing a life-long partnership, and ready to address the age gap publicly.

“Everyone was just so excited we are happy; that kind of happy makes other people happy. We talk about the future all the time. Within the next two years, we plan on engagement, marriage, and a baby. Just one. We both want just one.”

While Sophia and Robert have both faced some judgemental looks from strangers over their age gap, they insist that they were brought together for a reason.

Sophia says that she has always had an old soul and was always the more mature of her age group, whereas Robert has always acted younger than his age, which made their connection more real.

Sophia and Robert pictured together. MDWfeatures / Sophia Spallino

“My family was a bit hesitant to believe that this could work long-term. But about six months into the relationship, they met Robert,” she said.

“After meeting Robert, you realise he is a thirty-four-year-old in a fifty-four-year-old’s body but with much more respect and honour for women. Everyone loves him; now everyone is waiting for a ring, wedding bells, and a baby.

“I have an old soul; I’ve always been that way. I’ve never been best friends with girls my own age and would stay inside during recess to hang out with my teachers.

“I guess you could say I’ve had age gap friendships my whole life. I also love old music and vintage fashion. It seems natural for me to not even be attracted to a song my age group likes, much less a man.

“Life is too short to say, ‘No, we can’t be together based on numbers’, I found him when I needed him the most and he found me. In a way, we saved each other and made one another believe in unconditional love again.”

Robert discusses his feelings towards Sophia and what attracted him to her.

Robert and Sophia in a car with her family. MDWfeatures / Sophia Spallino

“She is talented, creative, and smart. People don’t give her enough credit and she doesn’t give herself enough credit, but I am helping her see her true self — a brilliant woman,” he said.

“My friends would have been shocked if I were with someone with less than a ten-year age gap. I just have a young spirit.

“Sophia says I act younger than her when it comes to my taste in music and pop culture or knowledge in technology.

“Attraction should be based on compatibility, not society’s antiquated thoughts regarding the criteria for what a loving relationship should be. I love Sophia to the moon and back. Anyone who sees us for a minute will know it.”