In our story series ‘How Are You Today?’, we have a meandering, mental-health focused chat with some of our most well-known New Zealanders. Check out previous chats with people like Hayley Holt, Roseanne Liang and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Today we chat to Matty McLean and Ryan Teece.
From first meeting on a dating app five years ago, Breakfast’s Matty McLean and partner, Ray White agent Ryan Teece, have been making their friends jealous with their too-cute relationship ever since. But, as the pair tell said friend Kelly Bertrand, it’s not been without hard work, sacrifice – and a whole lot of Downton Abbey.
So! How are you today, Matty and Ryan?
M: Well, I’ve just poured myself a gin, so I’m doing all right. How’re you doing, Ryan?
R: Well he’s happy, so I’m happy! I haven’t been drinking for a while, but I did have a glass of bubbles the other day.
Stop it guys, you’re too cute already.
M: I know! But yeah, we’re doing ok. It’s been a tough one for everyone, hasn’t it – we’re not immune to that. But we’re pretty fortunate positions, and today we’re doing all right.
R: It’s hard with this one, I’m kind of struggling with the whole, ‘I can’t see the finish line’ part of it. That’s a bit tough.
What have you guys been getting up to – I mean Matty I know there’s been a lot of time in the wardrobe practicing dance moves, so I can only assume choreographed dancing is coming to Ryan’s future soon?
M: I’m trying to talk him into it… but the thing about Ryan is that he’s so stubborn, if you ask him to do something too many times, even if he wants to do it, just to be contrary he won’t. There’s a fine line suggesting something without pushing it!
R: God, the amount of people messaging me asking me to do a dance… it’s not happening.
M: The horse has bolted in that aspect.
R: And there’s lots of other things we’re doing – lots of walks with our dog Otis, Matt’s still working a few days a week, so we have some kind of routine.
M: And we finished off the whole of Downton Abbey. That was fantastic.
We’re always going on about how rubbish lockdown is – and it IS – but have there been any highlights of the time together?
R: I feel like we’re connecting with people more than usual. Living in Auckland is hard, and we both have weird jobs when it comes to normal timelines, so it’s hard for us to find time to catch up with all the people we want to – so even though it’s virtual, it’s been great to have time to connect with people.
M: When life gets busy, and your mind is on other things, now we just go for a walk together, or chat for an hour about life and what we want to do next, and random shit we want to do. The connection has been fantastic.
R: And we’ve taken Otis for so many walks, he’s the happiest he’s ever been.
Which is great, because have you seen the stories about how there are so many cats that are depressed because their humans are around too much for their liking?
R: That’s exactly why you shouldn’t have cats. Out of ALL the things in the world, pets are supposed to love you unconditionally [laughs].
M: That’s on them for getting cats [laughs].
Something else you’re united on! So how long have you been together now?
M: Coming up five years. It’s crazy. We met just as I moved home from London, which means I’ve been doing this job for five years, Otis is coming up five years old. We moved in together pretty quick, so we’ve been living with each other for about that long too. Five years is a big milestone, you know.
It’s a real chapter of your life, isn’t it – with lockdown especially at the moment, when you get to these milestones, does it make you start thinking about the future and what you’re going to do next?
M: Oh, Ryan thinks about that every day [laughs].
R: I’m constantly thinking about that. I asked a mate who just moved back to Christchurch the other day if he was happy, and he said no – he said he’s a creative, and they’re generally never 100% happy with their life, because they’re always thinking about the next thing. And that really clicked for me. I was like, that’s what I’m like! I’m constantly thinking, ‘that’s done – now what?’ It’s just how I’m wired.
M: Whereas I’m the ultimate under planner. How the fuck the two of us work, I’ll never know.
No that makes sense, doesn’t it? You can’t have two of the same in one relationship, you’d drive each other nuts.
R: He’d still be renting if I wasn’t around [laughs].
M: Yeah you’re right, it does work. Ryan drives and pushes, and then other times I can be cool, let’s just chill for a sec and be as happy and content as we are. We have moved house SO. MANY. TIMES. I’m never packing boxes again.
R: Well, to be fair it is hard when you work in real estate [laughs]. I take his point. We’ll be here for another couple of months at least. I’m JOKING.
From broadcasting to selling, the duo have been killing it in recent years – and are thrilled that each other has found their professional passion
Wow, five years – it’s amazing. I’ve been friends with you both for a long time, and amongst our group of friends you’re definitely known as #couplegoals – so tell all the single people out there, why does it work so well?
M: I think I have the answer actually. And look, we’re certainly not perfect – we fight and argue and stuff. Because we moved so quickly at the beginning, we had to figure each other out fast because we are quite different. But we understand what the other person needs to thrive, and also what they need to deal with things. For example, I know if Ryan’s in a bad mood, if he’s come home from a stressful day, I know to just leave him alone, because he likes to internalise and digest things. But Ryan knows if I’m in a bad mood, I need a cuddle!
R: Yeah, and it’s one thing to know what each other needs, but it’s another to be ok with the differences, and not change how that person is. I think that’s why it works so well.
And you’re both so driven as well – I mean Matty, the country knows how successful you are in your career, but Ryan, you’re really killing it in the real estate world too.
M: I think we both found the thing that makes us happy professionally, so it’s easy to get on board with your partner’s profession when you see how happy it makes them. And not just be a cheerleader, but actually help out where I can, and vice versa. And that’s been so amazing. It’s easy to be driven and push yourself forward when there’s someone there who’s celebrating you, but who will also reap the rewards of that. That’s what family and relationships are supposed to be.
So what do you think the future looks like for you guys then?
R: We’ve already ticked off quite a few boxes, which is a really nice feeling. I mean it would be nice one day to not work quite as hard as we are at the moment! And one day, in the distant future, it’ll be nice to be back in the South Island where we’re both from. But we’re loving our life in Auckland for now.
M: We’ve been lucky, we’ve done lots of the things that people our age want to do; we bought a house together, we have a dog, we’re doing pretty well in our careers. Contentment is a nice thing to have. Although we have no big plans at the moment because, you know, lockdown.
You guys must be so proud of what you’ve achieved then – do you ever look back and think, God, we’ve nailed this. Was this the life you imagined when you were growing up?
M: I have everything I could have ever dreamed of when I was a teenager. The media industry is so fickle, and it’s tough to break into and there’s luck involved, for sure. The fact that I’m still working in the industry, and in a job I love, is amazing. And then the fact I’m in this really happy relationship… I spent the entirety of my 20s single. I got to the point where I didn’t know if it would happen for me.
R: As gay guys, the social norms kind of go out the window. I think we grew up in an interesting point in the gay spectrum. We’re not old enough to have been in that horrible time of fighting for our rights and and situations like the awful AIDS epidemic, and we’re a bit before the time where you see kids now who are gay and it’s the most normal thing. I don’t remember seeing gay adults growing up and saying, ‘Oh, ok. That’s what I want my life to look like. We just had to make it up as we go, and not worry about social norms. Which is a huge privilege, to not have others going, ‘Well, by now you should have done X and Y’.
God, that must be nice. If you were a hetero couple now, it would be ‘You’ve been together five years! Where are the kids!’
R: Oh that still happens. Matt’s mum! [Laughs].
M: It’s so funny – Ryan’s right, you do model yourself of heterosexual couples, so I always thought, ‘I want to get married, I want kids’. And that’s not to say I don’t want those things, but I think the older you get, the happier you are with what you have.
R: And going back to your question before about how our relationship works, I think particularly in the gay world, people are always looking for something better and thinking the grass is greener. But we’ve both figured out that’s not true. We’re happy with what we have. So, so happy.