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A 22-year-old woman has told how strangers think the 56-year-old man she is dating is her dad.

Alyssa Cleland, 22, from Texas, USA, and partner Rick both worked at a land surveying company but ended up meeting through an online dating app. After a great first date where they spent four hours locked in engaging conversation, they decided to start dating.

Alyssa, who has a rare condition that causes the absence of the tibia and deformed hands, is drawn to Rick because she doesn't think younger men can handle her. She and Rick have lived together ever since and are planning a future together.

Despite being very much a loving couple, Alyssa says that they have been mistaken for father and daughter by Rick's friends and by real estate agents while they were looking for a home together.
"Also, when we were looking at places to live, some of the real estate people would point out the two separate bedrooms which just made me call Rick 'babe' the whole time we toured places.
"I don't think you can judge people until you've been in their shoes. You have no idea what they're going through or what their life/relationships are like."


Alyssa, pictured during therapy, lives with Rick in Texas US 
Alyssa has had had negative dating experiences with younger men due to her condition, which is called paraxial tibial hemimelia. And she has often found younger men hard to get to know and have a conversation with. But thinks she insists Rick is easy to communicate with and feels comfortable with him.

Alyssa said: "I've dated a few men my age and it's hard getting to know them, to carry on a conversation or to communicate when there's a problem in the relationship, but with Rick it was different.
"Things were just easy with him and I felt very comfortable around him.

"A handful of times I've had some negative experiences with dating, but I haven't really put myself out there that much to begin with."
The few men I dated before Rick all knew in advance about my leg and were fine with it. Any guy that wasn't ok with it, I didn't interact with because what's the point?
"I think the fact that Rick believes in my dreams as much as I do and helps me in any way he can do to get me there has made him very supportive of me."
The pair plan to get married in the future.
Speaking of their dream romance, Alyssa said: "While we knew each other from the office, Rick and I really met each other through an online dating website.
"Rick had 'favorited' or 'liked' my profile and I messaged him asking him what he was thinking. We ended up going to lunch the next week to talk things over.
"We wanted to make sure that neither one of us was going to speak about this; we meant to just let it go and never see each other outside of work after that. 
"However, after four hours of wonderful conversation, we decided we wanted to date, but not as long as we were working together although we counted that as our 'first date'.
"Rick and I met when we were both working at a land surveying company in Texas.
"Rick was the CFO and I worked as a CAD technician. 
"Rick ended up leaving the company not long after that and we were able to start publicly dating each other. Rick is now the CFO of a construction company and builds custom homes on the side.
"I just thought he was a real man; very strong, handsome and always polite and kind. As we got to know each other my attraction for him grew. 
"He always treated me well, made sure I had everything I needed, was there for me emotionally and helped me work through things that were bothering me.
"Since he was so much older and had a ton of insight, the communication between us was a little easier.
Alyssa said she feels much more comfortable with Rick and has struggled to maintain relationships with younger men.

She said: "At my senior high school prom, I asked the guy out and while he said yes, he ditched me the entire night; he didn't take pictures with me, go to dinner with me or even dance with me. "

Alyssa says that they have been mistaken for father and daughter by Rick's friends and by real estate agents while they were looking for a home together.

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