90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way‘s Debbie doesn’t understand the comparisons between herself and fellow series star Angela, despite the show documenting their relationships with younger men.
Debbie has faced criticism over the 43-year-age gap between her and her boyfriend Oussama while Angela also received backlash during her marriage to Michael, who is 22 years her junior. Their respective love journeys are both being featured on the hit TLC series on Sunday nights.
“You know, it’s strange when they compare me to her because I consider myself … it’s not that I’m an elitist, it’s just that I just have much more high ideals,” Debbie told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m not interested in somebody if they can, you know, give me good sex and that’s all.”
“I’m all about ideas and goals, and plans to elevate ourselves and humanity, and I think she’s not that way,” she continued. “But who’s to say? I hope she becomes that way but it’s like, I think she’s so distracted about instant pleasure, you know?”
“Pleasure doesn’t come instantaneously, it takes time,” she added. “You build up on it and you make something, you make something you can be proud of and hold your head up high. I think maybe Angela is still learning that.”
Debbie also opened up about receiving negative comments about her relationship, primarily over their age gap and cultural differences.
“It’s like having to carry a heavy load when there is negativity too, and it’s hurtful, and sometimes I catch myself kind of getting depressed over some of the remarks and then I just suck it up and say, ‘Well, Debbie, remember if this can help one person, it’s worth it,'” she explained. “And that’s why I continue on and continue on my dream.”
Despite the negative comments, Debbie has an optimistic outlook on the nay-sayers: “People that are mean, they maybe don’t know how cruel they are being and I forgive them because it’s from the superficial first glance at me and Oussama.”
“It might look like, ‘Oh, she’s a pervert. Oh, she’s a latch. Oh, she’s a cougar. Oh, she’s a granny cougar,’ you know, I’ve heard it all and it’s like, I’m just Miss Debbie,” she continued. “I’m a kind person. I’m not looking for any young man. I’d like to have an old man but guess what? There’s no old man out there, they’re either dead or they’re married … my pool for finding a nice man is very small. Actually, it’s a little mud puddle, it’s not even a pool.”
While fans haven’t been shy to express their thoughts, Debbie’s son Julian also hasn’t been thrilled with the relationship, vocalizing his disapproval for his mom’s move to Morocco and Oussama’s intentions on the series.
Debbie, however, denies that Oussama has ulterior motives, telling the outlet: “I didn’t even know what a real catfish was because it’s like, to me, it’s hard to put on the mental thinking cap of using someone because I wouldn’t do that, so it was hard for me to relate to that concept.”
“There’s stuff going on where people are doing mean things to other people, but I said, ‘Oh no, a man with this intelligence and knowledge of art and poetry, he couldn’t be catfishing me,'” she continued. “I said to myself, no one’s gonna pull anything shady on me anymore. I’ve had enough shady stuff done to me my whole life … Oussama, he’s gonna be that prince, that prince charming, and I’m going to help him and he’s going to help me, and it’s like, my son doesn’t get that but I do.”
Despite the mixed reactions to their relationship, Debbie said she still feels “at home” with her boyfriend.
“I knew from how he spoke to me and his dark side that he had suffered through some depression and possibly some bullying or something, and I wanted to lift him up because I could relate to that,” she explained. “I self-isolated myself and I put myself in an exile, a self-imposed exile, because the world was too hurtful and too painful to deal with, and then I found that in Oussama too.”
She continued, “So I said, ‘Well, gee whiz, let me kinda help him out of it and let him see that there is lightness,’ because he did tend to get dark sometimes but then he got way better and he even said that I brought light into his life.”
She added that Oussama offers her “empathy and kindness and love” that she’s never had before. That empathy also carries over into Oussama’s attempt at intimacy.
“He’s a red-blooded man,” she shared. “It’s like, he’s tried but when I say no, guess what? He respects me and then he’s very romantic. He does all the right things and he’s just wonderful, the most romantic guy I’ve ever been with in my life and plus, he’s a gentleman.”
“Most guys, it’s all about grabbing and whatever,” she continued. “It’s like, yeah, Oussama has his moments, but he knows when no means no and then he goes back to being the gentleman.”
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90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on TLC.