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Met and Dating
16 Sep 2017
16 Jul 2019
She met her current boyfriend in person for the first time just three days before undergoing a second kidney transplant in September 2017.
The two started talking when Hyland was on dialysis, she explains, about a month before her second transplant. As they flirted, she kept her health issues to herself, assuming nothing serious was going to happen. He was thousands of miles away in Nashville. “Then I started to really, really like the dude,” she says. The dude in question is Wells Adams, a radio DJ who entered the public eye via a stint on The Bachelorette. Hyland was an avid viewer.
When Adams appeared on the show in 2016, Hyland was happily in a relationship with someone else. But, as most viewers do, she judged the suitors with her friends. “I was like, ‘I really like the radio DJ,’” she says, ticking off his attributes that jumped out at her through the screen: nerd-hot, funny, dimples. “I'm a dimple person,” she says. “They'll get you every time.”
Once Adams was eliminated from The Bachelorette, he started playfully reviewing the series on Snapchat. Hyland’s friends pointed out to her that they were making the same very specific, very weird jokes. “Every week it was the same thing,” she says. “My girlfriends were like, ‘Oh my God, you guys are like the same person.’”
Later, when they were both single, she tweeted at him. He slid into her DMs. It’s a perfectly modern love story.
“We met each other for the first time three days before my transplant,” Hyland says. “He was texting me in the morning before I went into surgery, and we were FaceTiming the entire time I was in the hospital.”
(Quick aside here to acknowledge that the week she had her second transplant and met Adams in person for the first time was a lot, even for someone as busy as Hyland. As she describes it: "September 16th I had an [Emmy Awards] party and my first date with [Wells]. The 17th was the Emmys. The 18th I had work on Modern Family at 6 A.M. and then I went to dialysis afterwards. And then I had to be at the hospital at 4 o'clock in the morning for my transplant the next day.")
Adams was there for her during the recovery process post-transplant. "He's seen me at my worst,” she says. Hooked up to all sorts of wires. In such a tremendous pain medication fog that she still doesn’t remember what she said. “He was there through all of that,” she says. “I think that's why I feel the most beautiful in his eyes, because he still finds me beautiful after seeing all that.”
The experience brought them closer pretty quickly. “It was a really intimate start to a relationship to have to go through those hurdles at the very, very, very beginning when you're just even getting to know a person,” Hyland says. “Also, falling in love with someone before you can really be intimate. I did not believe that that was a thing, but it is.”
That, at least, is a bit different now that they’ve been together for more than a year. For Hyland, two things are key to being a good couple: “You have to have good sex, and you have to be able to fight well,” she says. “It’s funny because I've always been the one that communicates the most in a relationship. And now he is. I'm like, ‘Wait, I'm so confused. What is happening?’ ... If we get in a fight, I'm like, ‘How am I acting like the child?’"
The two do the kind of sentimental things you would expect in a romantic comedy about a man named Wells Adams and a woman named Sarah Hyland, like hiding cards in each others’ luggage when they’re away from each other, which is often. “We're just very busy working. And I think that's also what makes relationships work,” she says. “You have to have your own thing ... so when you come home at the end of the day, you're excited to see that person.”
When I ask if there was One Specific Moment where she knew that Wells Was It, she has a story for me. “I'm probably gonna get shit for this, but whatever,” she says. “We were dancing, and I had water in one hand.” She was also holding a clutch. Then...drum roll...he asked to hold her purse.
She mimics her suspicious reaction, the kind you have when your gut has been whispering that something is too good to be true. “I physically, like, retracted, and I was like, ‘What, why do you want to hold my purse?’” His response: So she could dance more comfortably. "'I don't know, I'm just trying to be a gentleman,'" she says, imitating him.
This may not seem huge, but Hyland says that in the past, she has been in relationships with partners who have said, verbatim, “I don’t want to be the guy holding your purse.” “I was just shocked that someone asked to hold my purse for the first time,” she says. She kept the purse, but he caught, and has kept, her heart.