The country’s newest reality TV couple are currently self-isolating in a loved-up lockdown bubble.
Lily McManus, 23, handed clothing designer Richie Boyens, 32, her final rose during the finale of The Bachelorette NZ. On Tuesday night’s reunion episode it was revealed the couple were still an item, months after the show finished filming in December.
But the epilogue that no one could have seen coming was the coronavirus pandemic, with the lockdown period forcing the pair – who live in separate flats in Auckland – to take a big step in their relationship by moving in together temporarily.
“We were a bit frazzled about how it was going to work – we didn’t really want to spend four weeks apart, but we also weren’t sure if we could spend four weeks together,” McManus told Stuff.
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“Literally at the last minute, the night before lockdown was supposed to start, we booked a flight to Nelson. My parents have this little shed by the water with a bed in it and the basic necessities. We left at 8am the next day and committed to it – and now we’re here, we’re so stoked that we did it.”
The pair said despite their initial hesitations, all was going well so far.
“We both have great communication so we can tell each other to f… off when we need to… it’s easy, it’s nice,” McManus said.
Boyens added: “We just give each other ‘the eye’, or if Lily’s sitting there on her phone I know she doesn’t need me for another good six hours.”
Trying to make a relationship work out of a reality TV show is a big enough challenge at the best of times – just ask Art and Matilda Green, the only other successful couple from New Zealand’s previous seasons of The Bachelor.
“I spoke to Art about it and he said his best advice was have really low expectations – don’t try to jump into anything,” McManus said.
“So the first thing I said to Richie was, hey, if you just want a date and you don’t want us to be boyfriend/girlfriend, that’s all good with me.
“He was like, ‘no, I want to be your boyfriend.’ I was like, sweet, because I want to be your girlfriend.”
They have gone against one piece of Green’s advice, however, by choosing to watch the show together – which has been difficult, McManus admitted.
“It’s not easy for him to watch me pash boys, it’s not easy for me to watch myself pash boys I had feeling for,” she said.
Boyens said: “I hated watching her be intimate with other guys, but then there was this other side of it where I had so much respect for what she was doing and how kind she was being – the integrity and trust she showed each and every one of us through the process.”
While many viewers picked that McManus and Boyens would end up together, McManus said she had tried to give all the contestants an equal chance.
“I didn’t really want to just decide in my head early on who it was going to be or even let my brain go there because it would have been unfair on everyone for me to just make up my mind,” she said.
“I always wanted to be open to my thoughts and feelings about people changing.”
When McManus did ultimately choose Boyens, she told him: “You’re the person that I want to make me breakfast in the morning.”
But actually, she said, being in lockdown has them wishing they could go out for brunch.
“We’ve been wanting to hang out in public – we’ve just been hanging out inside, so it feels like we’ve been in isolation for a really long time,” she joked.
“Now we’ve got another four weeks of it. It’s a bit of a stitch-up.”
Who will get their happily-ever-after?