How a player got tamed

Couple goals: In an interview following the engagement, Prince Harry said of Meghan Markle: “This beautiful woman just tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life.” The happy pair will wed on May 19 at Windsor Castle.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Couple goals: In an interview following the engagement, Prince Harry said of Meghan Markle: “This beautiful woman just tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life.” The happy pair will wed on May 19 at Windsor Castle.

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I met Meghan Markle once. Yes, the princess-to-be Meghan Markle. For real. It was at an event for studio NBC/Universal, and she was the big name they were trotting out. A producer had called to ask if I would walk Meghan onstage – because, you know, God forbid anyone should have to walk onstage by themselves. In any case, I gallantly agreed to do it.

Back then, I didn’t know who Meghan Markle was. I’d never even seen an episode of Suits. So I was by no means star-struck, and instead tried to make small talk. I don’t remember much of the conversation, except that she had been spending long spells in Toronto (my hometown), where Suits is filmed. But I recall her vibe. Though she was unfailingly polite and easy to talk to, she had the air of a woman who was trying to keep me at arm’s length.

But I guess Meghan Markle doesn’t have to worry about random dudes hitting on her anymore. After all, the whole world knows she’s the one who somehow managed to tame Britain’s Prince Harry. What was it about Meghan Markle that led the prince to shed his play boy prince label and become a one woman man?


It got me thinking. Women always seem way readier to leave the dating game behind and say yes to a committed relationship. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that a boyfriend on their arm or a ring on their finger is an easy escape from any unwelcome flirtations.

It’s a different story with guys. For us, dating equals sexual freedom. And the thought of giving that up is daunting. Even if the girl is awesome and you think you might be in love with her, there’s that niggling thought that you’re giving up the ability to meet (and hook up with) all the single Meghan Markles of the world. You’re giving up the crazy sexual exploits that your single male buddies assure you they’ve experienced. The FOMO is real.

The funny thing is, I know that being in a committed relationship is way better. Think about it: Someone is actually willing to let you be your knucklehead self and stick it out with you in spite of your idiosyncrasies. Single life, on the other hand, is always made out to be so much better than it actually is. In my experience, being single and dating meant spending a lot of time on my couch zoning out on video games and checking out girls on social media.

I’ve done my fair share of dating. Being a model and actor, I dated a lot of models, which set the bar on looks pretty high. But for sure, it didn’t make me prioritise personality. Still, there were non-models as well – I remember there was a teacher and an NGO worker too. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’d always try to see the girls I was dating as marriage material, and they always seemed to have the potential – right up until the point that they didn’t. And then I’d make a run for it.


When I met my current partner eight years ago, I had no idea it was going to become serious. Our starting point wasn’t the most promising. We met at a club. She was seven years younger. I’d had a lot of drinks before chatting her up, so it wasn’t romantic. But it ended up becoming my longest – and happiest – relationship to date. Oh, and no surprises here, she was a model (because I like to stick to what I know).

Late into the night, we spoke about random stuff and the meaning of life in the way only drunk and tired people can. And something she blurted out changed everything. “People can be happy wherever they find themselves,” she said. It was such a simple statement, but it’s something I feel has defined her and our relationship to this day.

I was stunned at how different she was from the girl I’d dated just before her. If my ex-girlfriend had taught me anything, it was that some people were determined to be unhappy – no matter where they were or who they were with.

When that ex-girlfriend was with her family, she quickly grew tired of them. But when she was away from them for too long, she wasn’t happy either. At the beach, the water was never blue enough, and the skies were too grey for a great photo. The buses were too loud, the food too greasy, the air too airy – well, you get the idea. Being with someone who didn’t seem to find joy in anything, big or small, drove me insane. Undoubtedly, she was going through her own issues, but constantly trying to make a chronically unhappy person happy is a thankless, full-time job. It got to the point where I relished going out for drinks with her because it was the only time she seemed happy.

While alcohol can take the sting out of tough situations, I knew that was no way to live. Stumbling drunkenly from bar to bar isn’t as much a lifestyle as it is a symptom of something terribly wrong.

So I quit the relationship.

But here was this new girl, telling me it didn’t take much for her to find happiness anywhere. And when she talked about working two jobs outside of modelling, and wanting to enrol in university as a mature student, I was sold. This was a girl who had ambition – someone who knew she had to make her own way after her shelf life as a model expired. She was so unlike many of the models I knew, who saw marrying well as the backup plan. It was refreshing, and I was hooked. I had to see her again.


So I did – a bunch of times. A few months later, she moved her stuff into my spartan shoebox apartment. And I found out she wasn’t lying about being happy anywhere. She definitely makes the best of every situation she’s in. She dressed my space up and made it cosy, and whenever I complain that it’s too small, she finds something good to say about it. Sometimes, her eternal optimism bugs me, but I know I’m still better off with it than without. But I guess that’s a long-term relationship for you – what you loved about them originally will probably start to grate. It’s like the surprise ending of a film. But unlike a film, life goes on after the credits roll.

So how do we deal when familiarity starts to breed contempt? I’d say: Have a life outside your relationship. Spend some time with other people. It’d be great if your partner could be everything, but the truth is, that’s asking a lot. Better to have a circle of good friends, and not put it all on your relationship. Oh, and once in a while, book a hotel room – just the two of you. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Real relationships are messy. Do I pine for the days of being single and having a chance to chat up Meghan Markle? Nope. Not a chance. Being single sucked. Even having been in a relationship as long as I have – long enough for the sheen to fade and be replaced by the rusting, beaten-down carcass of what it once was – I’d still take this over being single, any day.

Don’t I miss getting prepped for dates, the excitement of meeting new girls, or the endless possibilities of going on the prowl at night scouring the cityscape for hot women? Well, I definitely don’t miss making the wrong moves and looking like a desperate creep, being that guy at the bar that some girl just really wants to get away from, and adding girls on social media who don’t add you back. It’s a gauntlet of rejection, and if you’re in a relationship, you’ve beat the gauntlet and are the champion Maze Runner. Congrats. Buy yourself a cake.

Real relationships take time, blood and sweat – to know someone well enough that you can live a lifetime with them. And that’s where I am with my partner. She did find a life after modelling – as an interior designer. Which showed me she’s got grit and determination. I admire that, and it makes me feel like together, we can take on the world.

So, trying to figure all that out with a new girl? No thanks, I’ve got my very own princess.
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Prince Harry said he knew Meghan Markle was the one from the first time they met after being set up on a blind date. They were engaged 16 months later.
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Sports presenter Natalie was frequently sighted with Prince Harry as he hit up the London party scene in 2003. Despite the flirty nature of their relationship, she insisted they were just friends.
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Prince Harry’s first serious girlfriend. He and law graduate turned ethical jewellery entrepreneur Chelsy were on and off for seven years before calling it quits in 2010.
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Rumour is that Prince Harry and reality TV star Lauren first met at London nightclub Chinawhite, danced together until 3am, and swopped numbers afterwards.
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The Real Housewives of D.C. star Catherine went public about her make-out session with the Prince. He was 21 and she was 34 when they met during a night out with mutual friends.
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Before she became Mrs John Travolta, Kelly was living with George (they even had a pet pig) way back in 1988.
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 Actress Talia made it down the aisle with George in 1989, but the pair divorced in 1993.
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George met law student/waitress Celine while filming in Paris. They dated for three years.
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George dated Baywatch star Krista for two years, but the pair reportedly gave it a second go in 2006.
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George Clooney and lawyer Amal Alamuddin married in 2014. Their twins – Ella and Alexander – were born three years later.
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This is the woman who inspired Maroon 5’s hit debut album Songs About Jane. Jane dated Adam from 1997 to 2001.
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Adam first met tennis superstar Maria at her 18th birthday party, but their romance was short-lived.
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Sparks flew with cocktail waitress Rebecca on her 21st birthday. They were on and off for a couple of years.
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Model Janine was next in line after Rebecca, with a blink-and-you’llmissit fling.
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Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine tied the knot with Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo in 2014. They welcomed their second child – a girl – this year.

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Before these men about town settled down, some of these women captured their hearts.

The TV presenter famously said she and the Prince had to stop seeing each other once the story got out, as she became known as “Caroline Flack, Prince Harry’s bit of rough”.
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Prince Harry had a Bruce fling with Norwegian lead singer Camilla of UK-based rock band Eddie The Gun before getting back together again with Chelsy.
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Aristocratic lingerie model Florence was briefly linked to the royal before he headed to the US for helicopter training.
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Strictly Come Dancing star Mollie was spotted dancing with Prince Harry at a London nightclub and karaoke bar, though she later tweeted that they’re just friends.
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The prince and actress Thurlow Cressida dated between 2012 and 2014. During this time, pictures surfaced of him drunk, and with girls in bikinis, in a Las Vegas hotel suite.
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Love Island runner-up Camilla was spotted vacationing with Prince Harry in St Tropez in 2014.
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British model Lisa was in an on-off relationship with George for five years.
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Reality TV star Carole has allegedly said George is a nine out of 10 between the sheets. The pair were reportedly an item in the early 2000s.
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There were rumours that George and Renee were briefly more than friends, though the pair have denied any romance.
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Elisabetta and George made it official at the Venice Film Festival in 2009, but split after two years.
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Former professional wrestler-turned actress Stacy allegedly called it quits in 2013 because George refused to commit.
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Things fizzled after just a few months with Arielle, a model and actress.
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Angela was the first of a string of Victoria’s Secret models Adam would be linked to.
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Adam serenaded girlfriend Anne as she strutted down the Victoria’s Secret runway in 2011.
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A month after his first break-up with Behati in 2013, Adam was said to have pursued Gossip Girl actress Amanda.
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Just weeks before reuniting with Behati, Adam hung out with VS model Nina for a month in 2013.
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If it can happen to playboy Prince Harry – who’s marrying Meghan Markle this month – it can happen to anybody. And actor and model Jason Godfrey (below) can relate. He’s played the dating game, but says it’s surprisingly easy to walk away from it when the right person drops into your life. He shares the other thing that’s surprised him: Nothing quite beats being in a committed relationship.