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It's hard to believe that the sweet little girl who first stole our hearts in I Am Sam is all grown up — and in love.
Dakota Fanning, 20, has been dating British model Jamie Strachan, who's 13 years her senior, since last year, and for the first time she's speaking out about him — and using the "L" word.
"I'm super-happy," the Effie Gray star told British newspaper The Times. "I think love is very important and it's really fun to have someone to experience things with. It makes everything a bit more special."
As far as their age gap, it has not been an issue for the actress, who also attends New York University, where she's studying women and film. "People love who they love and you go with that," she said. "People get so stuck in rules for life. You go with what feels right."
Her parents' relationship is a model for her own, she said. They met when they were seven and have been married for 25 years. "I’ve always wanted that," Dakota, who is big sister to actress Elle, told the paper. "I’ve seen how wonderful it is to have parents who have experienced pretty much everything together."
Fanning and Strachan have been making their own memories together. First spotted at the U.S. Open in September 2013, they had actually started dating several months before that after being introduced by mutual friends, E! News reported at the time. Most sightings of them have been in the Big Apple, downtown near where she attends school, and they're often holding hands as they stroll on the crowded city streets. They've gone on coffee dates, shopping trips (even to unsexy places like CVS pharmacy), and taken in a New York Knicks game — all pretty low-key kinds of things.
Strachan, who is "very shy" and "incredibly nice and sweet," according to E!, was born in Bristol, England, in 1981 and signed with a modeling agency 22 years later. He's walked the runway for many top designers, including Gucci, Calvin Klein, and Versace, and appeared in ad campaigns for Mulberry, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger. He also loves being behind the camera. A quick glimpse of his Instagram feed won't turn up pix of Fanning, but there are plenty of artsy shots of his adventures around Manhattan and beyond.
As far as his relationship history, Fanning isn't the hunk's first celebrity girlfriend. He previously dated Behati Prinsloo — yes, Mrs. Adam Levine — and the model pair even appeared together in the Summer 2010 issue of i-D. Meanwhile, this seems to be Fanning's first real romance. In March 2013, right before she started dating Strachan, she told Glamour magazine that she wasn't going to waste her time dating unless she felt true sparks.
"I don't really date," she said. "I have a weird vision of relationships because my parents have known each other since second grade, and they got married right out of college. I've always thought that's what it's supposed to be like, and if it's not, then I don't want to waste my time on it. Even when I was 14, I was like, 'I'm not gonna marry this person. What's the point of doing it?' It's not me being naive. I just know what it's supposed to be like. And I think until I feel that, I cannot be bothered."
Well, if those are her dating rules, she must see a bright future with Jamie Strachan.