the tricks of the trade.
When Breakfast star Matty McLean headed to Fiji to tough it out on Celebrity Treasure Island, it felt like a dream come true for the reality TV super-fan.
But for his partner Ryan Teece, being left at home for three weeks without the love of his life was a serious shock to the system!
"We were used to being apart because Matty travels a lot for work, but this was so weird because suddenly there was no contact at all. No text messages, no FaceTime, no phone call before bed. It was like a horrific break-up or like he'd died, even. I had no idea if he was OK, it was bizarre!"
But as they welcome Woman's Day into their stylish West Auckland home, it's clear this loved-up pair are thrilled to be back together after Matty's gruelling stint on the show.
He might have lost five kilos and shed more than his fair share of tears, but he says it was one of the best experiences of his life.
"It was hard and emotional, but absolutely incredible at the same time. I loved it."
Matty, 32, has become a fan favourite, but it's real estate agent Ryan, 27, who's his biggest supporter. And they're excited to share their love story, which like many modern-day relationships, began on Tinder back in 2015.
"We started chatting and we got on really well, but we didn't get around to meeting in person," recalls Matty.
"We talked about having a drink but we were living far apart and we couldn't seem to make it work, and then I moved to London."
But they stayed in touch and when the broadcaster got the call-up to return to New Zealand to be the weatherman on TVNZ 1's Breakfast show in early 2017, Ryan made his move.
"He sent me a message saying congratulations on the new job, so I quickly suggested we finally have that drink. Within half an hour, I'd jumped on a train and we met up at a pub at Sylvia Park mall of all places!" recalls Matty.
A week later, they had their second date, and by that stage, both realised that it was the start of something special.
Tells Ryan, "I remember talking to my sister about Matty, saying that it all felt too easy and it was going too well. Before that, I'd always just gone in for the chase and then lost interest, but this was so different. And she said, 'That's how it's meant to be, it's not meant to be hard!'"
Within a couple of weeks, Ryan was at Matty's side when he went to choose a puppy from a litter of miniature schnauzers, and after six months of dating, they moved in together – along with their adorable little Otis, of course.
"Things moved really fast," acknowledges Matty. "But it's just always felt right. We've never had a fight, we just have heaps of fun together and make each other laugh."
Matty clearly remembers the first time he said "I love you".
He'd volunteered to drive a van at Ryan's friends' wedding, ferrying guests to their accommodation on Waiheke Island. At one point, he found himself wondering why on earth he'd put his hand up for the job – and the answer was obvious.
"It was at that moment it hit me that I was doing it because of Ryan, and that clearly I was in love with this man. So I told him that night and he said it back."
The couple readily admit that Matty is the emotional one of the partnership. Ryan, who works at Ray White, is a little more "practical".
But that's not to say he's not romantic. On their first anniversary, the former professional equestrian surprised Matty by turning up unannounced at the Breakfast team's hotel in Hanmer Springs, and joined the crew on the road for the next few days.
"It was such an amazing surprise," the TV star smiles. "I had absolutely no idea it was happening."
Matty and Ryan took the big step of buying a house together last year, and now they're slowly and surely doing it up.
As a farm boy, Ryan – who grew up just outside of Nelson – is a dab hand with a hammer and he's loving showing Matty
the tricks of the trade.
the tricks of the trade.
"We have clearly defined roles when it comes to DIY – Ryan tells me what to do and I do it," laughs Matty.
"But during the demolition phase, I left him to it and made lunch in the kitchen instead. We all know where our skills lie!"
While the renovation is the couple's first priority right now, they're open about the idea of marriage and parenthood in the future. As a marriage celebrant, Matty has presided over about 25 weddings, and they admit they'd love to one day make their relationship official.
"We've talked about it a lot," admits Matty, "and I know that I want to spend my life with Ryan. I do love a good wedding, but there really is no rush. We moved so quickly in the beginning, I think it's quite nice to just sit back and chill out with our dog in our house for a while."
"We decided that 2019 was our year to be boring – we just didn't factor Celebrity Treasure Island into that equation though," adds Ryan, who's also venturing into reality TV this year, as a Ray White real estate agent for one of the apartments on The Block NZ.
But both the broadcaster and his beau are honest about the idea of one day becoming fathers – it's something they'd love to do, but they know that as gay men, their path to parenthood won't be straightforward.
Explains Ryan, "It's one thing to say you're ready, but another to actually figure out how to make it work. It's a lot harder for gay men – there's no such thing as a happy accident! One day we will definitely explore the options, though."
Luckily for them, they are doting "guncles" (gay uncles) to one-year-olds Indie and Jack, who live in Nelson.
Watch: Matty McLean on being an unexpected role model for the gay community. Article continues below.
Ryan was even at his sister Jemma's side for the birth of his little niece, and last week he and Matty joined her at her ultrasound scan for her second pregnancy.
"She's so awesome for including us in this," he enthuses. "We just adore them and we feel really lucky to have them in our lives."
Their families have accepted each other's partners unconditionally, and both acknowledge just how grateful they are to be surrounded by people with such open hearts and attitudes.
Ryan laughs as he remembers how Matty's mum Tracy added him to the family chat group within hours of their first meeting.
"She adores him," says Matty.
But both men are very aware that life can be tough for many young gay people, which is why Matty chose Rainbow Youth for his charity on the reality show.
The organisation supports gay and gender diverse young people growing up in NZ.
"When I was young, I definitely struggled with my sense of identity and with trying to figure out my sexuality," says Matty.
"I was lucky I was well supported when I came out, but so many others aren't and it's so important that they have someone to turn to."
When asked what it is that makes their relationship tick, both agree it's their laid- back nature.
Amazingly, they're not fazed by their 3am wake-up time for Matty's role on Breakfast. Ryan, a self-confessed morning person, has structured his work so that he starts at 5am and is based from home in the afternoons so he can spend more time with Matty.
"We're both totally happy to go with the flow – which means we're hopeless at decision making but at least we never fight!" says Matty.
"The main thing, though, is that we just love being with each other. We never get sick of each other. And really, it's just fun to have someone to do life with."
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