By Liana Jacob
THIS MAN QUIT HIS JOB when his boss disapproved of him dating a girl TWENTY-NINE-YEARS younger and says he was even ATTACKED in the street for holding her hand.
Actor, journalist and model, Michael Hoch (49) from Duisburg, Germany, first met volunteer student, Sarah Schopp (20) from Wuppertal, Germany, at a theatre in 2016, when she was just 17 years old.
Throughout the day they kept bumping into each other and when she was serving drinks at the counter, he was drawn to her shy personality and smile.
Michael decided to track her down on Facebook and sent her a message but despite being attracted to him, Sarah was reluctant to date him due to their age gap and just wanted to stay friends. However, after a month of chatting, they couldn’t deny their love for each other and began dating.
While Sarah’s family were shocked at first about their relationship, they soon warmed to Michael and now her father and him are good friends as he is the same age as him.
Even though their families are happy with their relationship, Michael has received some backlash over his relationship from his acting director which prompted him to quit his job.
But after three years of remaining a strong couple, they are now proving doubters wrong and enjoy living in the moment.
“We met in a theatre. She stood at the counter and backstage and I was on stage. We didn’t really pay attention at first. In the theatre we kept bumping into each other,” Michael said.
“When I came off the stage and went to the counter where she served the drinks for the guests, I couldn’t escape her shy manner with her smile.
“At first we didn’t dare approach each other because we did not know how to deal with it. When we approached each other on Facebook, it was Sarah who first backed down and wanted us to remain just friends.
“She was only seventeen when we got together. But we couldn’t deny our love for each other at some point and I finally convinced her.
“The most difficult thing in the beginning was that Sarah looks much younger than she is and was also very reserved in the beginning.
“Sarah’s family were shocked at first. But then they accepted it quickly and now I’m like a member of the family.
“I also get along very well with her father, because he is the same age as I am. My mother is very tolerant and didn’t even ask. She just wants me to be happy.
“I was in the middle of final rehearsals for a new play, ‘The Miracle Worker’ by William Gibson. Two weeks before the premiere, the director called me into the office, interrupting rehearsals and confronted me.
“He and his friend had still had a very good relationship with Sarah, and they feared that I wouldn’t be good for her and only wanted a short affair.
“In front of the assembled ensemble I packed my things wordlessly and drove home without saying goodbye to my acting colleagues.
“But Sarah still works in the theatre today. It was terrible, especially for her, because she felt guilty and didn’t know how to behave towards her colleagues. Probably nobody knew what was going on and why I had to leave.”
Michael and Sarah have decided not to focus on the future, as they want to live in the moment and are thinking of getting a dog together.
“The fascinating thing is the mixture of our opposites is what connects us. We profit from the age of the other,” he said.
“When we were out and about, for example sitting in a cafe, people would often stare at us and watch us. That still happens to us today.
“At first it made us very insecure. Now we can easily ignore it. We have also talked about it a lot and we have friendly couples with similar experiences and have exchanged ideas.
“We have also been attacked before, because a man did not like the fact that I went hand in hand with a much younger one.
“He held Sarah’s arm and asked to see her ID. Fortunately we were able to de-escalate the situation, but it was already very threatening.
“Love knows no boundaries, no matter whether someone is old or young, what they look like, their origin or lifestyle; listen to your heart. What matters is what the heart says and that both partners are happy.
“We would like to see more respect in society in general, not only when there is a big difference in age. With more love and respect, the world would be much easier, and people would be happier. Be happy.”