Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman
The New Paper
Monday, Feb 16, 2015
When they started dating early last year, naysayers were quick to label them.
Their 12-year age difference fuelled harsh critics to insinuate that she was a cradle-snatcher and him, her toy boy.
Radio DJ Rosalyn Lee, 36, and her boyfriend Justin Vanderstraaten, 24, have never been bothered by the comments left on their social media pages.
"I'm used to hate comments, so they slide off me. People forget they're free to leave if they want.
"They talk bad about you but ultimately I'm still happy," Lee told The New Paper on Wednesday at the National Gallery Singapore's Portraits of the People event at One Fullerton.
Portraits of the People, in celebration of Singapore's 50th birthday this year, encourages Singaporeans to sketch drawings of themselves which will be etched onto a permanent commemorative walkway called the Art Connector.
Lee and Vanderstraaten had sketched surprisingly on-point portraits of each other, teasing each other and laughing throughout the 15-minute process.
Other famous names who participated in this campaign include Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and actress Joanne Peh.
Despite what their haters think, the happy couple are still going strong and very much in love.
Lee and Vanderstraaten, who met at a Singtel event last year and will be celebrating their first anniversary together on March 25, are public about their relationship.
"I like sharing good news and spreading positivity. This is about two people being in love and I don't see anything wrong with sharing," Lee said.
And increasingly, the majority of their social media followers have become supportive of their relationship and find them compatible.
So how will the couple be celebrating their first Valentine's Day?
They will be cooking for each other, with Vanderstraaten taking care of the main course while Lee prepares the dessert.
Laughter and honesty are what keep the flame burning.
"When she laughs, I laugh too, even when she is laughing at me," said Vanderstraaten, a business undergraduate at Singapore Institute of Management.
"He's very level-headed and he calms me," said Lee of her favourite trait in Vanderstraaten, whom she affectionately calls "baby".
The pair admit that the age gap was a problem in the initial stages of the relationship, especially during quarrels.
"There was a trial-and-error process at the beginning because we might not have got each other when we argued.
"But the thing about Justin is when you explain to him once, he learns and does not repeat it," Lee said.
"It's not a big problem because Rozz's mental age is about 13," joked Vanderstraaten, whom Lee was surprised to learn was 12 years her junior, based on looks alone.
Among other challenges, Lee says that his family is slowly warming up to her "mainly because of the age gap".
But his elder sister Vanessa Ann Vanderstraaten, a Fly Entertainment artist who hosted the Channel 5 reality singing competition The Final 1, is more accepting.
Vanderstraaten, who plays football on Sundays with Lee's brother Ryan, said: "My mum's priority, and mine, is to graduate (next year) first.
"Having said that, my mum shows (she cares about) Rozz in other ways, like when she offered me her car to drive Rozz to the airport for her flight to Los Angeles last week."
Lee describes the relationship as "drama-free" compared to past relationships.
Money has never been an issue either, even though Lee is drawing a salary while Vanderstraaten gets an allowance from his mother and earns extra income from working as a model.
Lee is comfortable with splashing on big-ticket items like holidays while he pays for smaller things like movies.
"I'm cool with money and not calculating. I don't need much and if I can buy experiences or moments with money so that we both can enjoy something, I would do it," Lee said.
Marriage could even be on the cards.
"Before this, I was against marriage and having children because marriage doesn't guarantee forever. I never thought of it as something I needed to go through to stay in love with someone.
"But now I want to keep it open and if that is where we are headed and if it feels right, let's do it," said Lee, who left Vanderstraaten tearful last year when he first found out their opposing views on marriage.
"I always saw myself as a father someday, ideally with three kids. When she told me, I thought I had to say goodbye to the dream," Vanderstraaten admitted.
He is sure of one thing - that Lee is the one for him.
"I don't think you should be with someone if you don't see a future with her," he said.
And is that feeling mutual?
Lee said: "There are seven billion people in the world, there could be many 'The Ones' out there. But I'm here and this guy feels right."
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