Wells Adams seems to be working single-handedly to change the meaning of the term keyboard warrior.
A true prince with a WiFi connection, the podcast host tends to swoop in whenever an ill-advised troller dare insult his fiancée Sarah Hyland. Just try to come for her weight—a lifelong struggle for the actress who was born with kidney dysplasia and fights to keep her muscle mass between hospitalizations—Adams will show you the door.
When one fan implored her to "eat a doughnut," he swiftly shot back, "Eat s--t." Another who slammed her for looking "really unhealthy" got the same treatment, with Adams writing, "You, your the type of fan who's a douche bag." (His girlfriend gently corrected him with a playful, "@wellsadams baby...you're*".)
And the critic who inexplicably insulted Hyland's choice to wear glasses to a pre-Emmys party? Adams shut that down, writing the obvious, "It's so she can see s--t."
The former Bachelorette contestant credits the actress with giving him the push to take the haters to task. "I've always just shut the hell up and never really talked back and, to be honest with you, dating her has made me become much more, like, confident in myself," he explained to Us Weekly. "Which, I'm a very confident person just in general, but, like, watching how she would respond to people just kind of changed me. I'd always think, 'They're just trolls, they don't mean anything,' but at the end of the day, I think the perception is that stuff doesn't hurt people like Sarah who are in the public eye—but it does. To maintain a little bit of sanity, you have to stand up for yourself."
To him, there are few things more fun than watching Hyland take charge. "I think it's hilarious that there are still trolls out there who think they can f--k with her," he continued. "Because she shuts everyone down."
Well...not everyone. Because if the Modern Family standout, turning 29 today, didn't embrace some bold fans on social media, then the Internet would have been robbed of one of its most adorable couples. Hyland's meet-cute with Bachelor in Paradise's resident bartender, 35, is a classic for the digital age. "Have you seen those memes of 'Slide Into the DMs'?" she asked Jimmy Kimmel during a January 2018 appearance on his late night talk show. "That. He slid into my DMs."
While that's not often the genesis for a truly great love story, the reality star-actress duo weathered months of long distance, successfully took on cohabitation with Adams leaving behind his home in Nashville for Hyland's L.A. home, and got engaged in July—a milestone they fittingly shared with their fans on Instagram.
"That can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, world series kind of stuff @wellsadams," Hyland wrote with a collage of photos from the proposal. Adams then commented, "It takes two! Well 5 including the doggos! Love you more bab....fiancé!"
The radio DJ first caught the Bachelor superfan's eye while competing for JoJo Fletcher's heart on the 12th season of ABC's love hunt in 2016. At the time, Hyland was deep into a two-and-a-half-year romance with fellow actor Dominic Sherwood, a relationship that was undoubtedly a breath of fresh, supportive air after her five-year pairing with Matt Prokop ended with her obtaining a restraining order and accusing the High School Musical 3 star of physical and verbal abuse.
Just months in, she was already gushing to E! News about what "an amazing person" her Vampire Academy costar was, so any interest in Adams was solely about rooting for good TV. But, admittedly, she noticed the 6-foot charmer (he described his ideal date as, "Really good tacos, a great live band, a walk around the city, and wine and cheese on my front porch as Otis Redding plays on my turn table,") was quite the catch. "I was rooting for him," she told E! News of watching Adams work up the courage to make a move with Fletcher. "I was like, 'kiss the girl!' I started singing it like Sebastian [the crab from The Little Mermaid]."
Even after Dallas real estate developer Fletcher whittled Adams from the competition, Hyland still paid him notice. When the University of Mississippi grad flexed his literary knowledge on the Men Tell All episode that July, she praised his Harry Potter acumen and comprehension of the classics. "Ugh! @WellsAdams making a Lord of the Flies reference on men tell all???" she tweeted. "#knewhewasthebestfromthestart"
So naturally she was psyched when the clean-cut Tennessee resident turned up in Mexico to sling margaritas the following summer. "OH MY GOD @WellsAdams IS THE FRIKKIN BARTENDER?!" she wrote. "Best. Season. Ever. #BachelorInParadise."
By then she and Sherwood had amicably ended their union, leaving Hyland free to flirt in full view of her 1.5 million followers. When Adams offered her the role of bar-back, she deftly shot back, "I'll start working on my garnishing skills. Oh and I require 35% of your tips.... or free dogs."
Spurred on by her interest, Adams, in the immortal words of franchise star Becca Kufrin, did the damn thing and started up a direct message chain.
"I saw him on The Bachelorette and then he became the bartender on Bachelor in Paradise and that's when I was like, 'Yeah, uh huh," Hyland explained during a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "I thought he was real hot and then he slid into them DMs 'cause I tweeted about him."
And she was amenable, to borrow a little more parlance from the show, to letting him steal her attention. "I was single, obviously, and was like, 'This is really awesome. You're being very forward and it's sexy and not aggressive, but very confident and sexy,' and I liked that," she recalled on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Soon enough he was pulling out all the stops for their first date, learning that when it came to a perfect night out, their interests were in lock step. "We have an obsession with tacos," Hyland shared of that initial L.A. outing. "Tacos and tequila, it's our thing."
Plus an abundance of quirky charm. Despite their digital flirtation, few followers assumed Adams would actually turn up on the arm of the four-time Screen Actors Guild award winner, so when they went public with their Stranger Things-themed Halloween costumes, their collective fan bases were floored. Wasn't he supposed to be romancing longtime pal Danielle Maltby—a pairing viewers had been shipping since they shared that one, steamy kiss as she departed the Playa Escondida Resort?
Did Hyland's #strangerthings have happened caption really mean that this, admittedly kind of strange, thing had happened?
In a word, uh, yeah.
"It's true. They are a couple," an insider confirmed to E! News at the time. "She has been spending time with him in Nashville and he is showing her around and doing fun activities with her. Wells is proudly introducing her to all of his friends and is really happy that they connected. They are taking it slow but are not seeing other people."
Days later, Adams turned up on the Facebook show The Morning Breath to share that not only were he and Hyland a thing, but their coupling was already so solid that they'd begun discussing their costumes for the following Halloween. "We did talk about next year's, and we have a really good [plan]," he revealed, adding he was hesitant to give it away and risk copy cats. "It's definitely in the vein of two things that we love dearly. And gender bending happens again." (To be fair their pairing of a taco and Beauty and the Beast's Belle was top notch.)
Navigating the several states between them, they made it a point to schedule meet-ups as frequently as possible with Adams often booking the flight out to L.A. where Hyland was stationed filming her ABC sitcom. "I think the longest we've gone without seeing each other is, like, two to three weeks because five days is already too much for us," she shared with People last summer. "So we always try to make sure to see each other."
Long-distance relationships get a bad rap, she acknowledged, but, "I don't think it's hard if the love is there."
Still, by the next month they were ready to close the gap. "I'm straight up moving to L.A.," Adams revealed on a July 2018 edition of Your Favorite Thing, his podcast with Brandi Cyrus. "Should I not have said it? I've got to go!" Sure, there were some things to figure out—Would both of their dogs be able to continue sharing the bed? Should he rent out his Nashville place fully furnished?—"I haven't gotten that far," he admitted. "First thought is: 'Let's go to California. Let's move in with the lady.'"
After all, it'd been long enough, the pair having discussed taking this monumental next step for months now, says a source, but they "have taken their time and avoided rushing into things." Now fully confident in what was happening between them, it was just time. Adds the source, "Sarah is very excited that the couples long distance days are over now."
She was there to greet Adams with a kiss after he made the 2,000-mile trip in a rented U-Haul in early August and the pair quickly adjusted to their new status. "I think it's brought us closer," she told E! News at Variety's Power of Young Hollywood event weeks later. "I don't think it's been long enough to discover pet peeves in each other."
But it had been long enough for her to learn one huge perk: "He's more anal and cleaner than I am. So, it's great for me."
As for any power struggles between his bloodhound Carl and Boo, the chocolate lab she adopted with Sherwood, "The dogs are amazing," she shared. "Boo is more of a dominant alpha personality where Carl is an alpha-sized dog. But they're having fun finally playing, and it's really nice to see Boo finally play with a dog her own size."
For fans of Hyland it's been equally heart-warming to see her land in such an enviable romance. "Sarah's friends love and accept Wells," notes the source, "and say he treats Sarah very well." That much was evidenced by the thought and effort he put into marking their first anniversary in 2018.
"I take a lot of Polaroids all the time," she told E! News, launching into an explanation of his gift. "He took all the Polaroids I take and put them in his typewriter and wrote things on them. Then he bought a leather-bound journal that you can put pictures in...He's amazing."
Also commemorating their anniversary on Instagram, she wrote, "1 year ago today, You asked to hold my purse when I was dancing. In that moment you took my heart. You then gave me my last first kiss."
And now the plan is to kiss in front of the altar one day. A month ago, Adams popped the question with a Lorraine Schwartz oval-cut diamond engagement ring, Hyland chose. "I told him what to get," she shrugged to fellow Ellen guest Dax Shepard when he complimented her rock. And in October, they chose a Bachelor Nation-approved venue—L.A.'s Lombardi House, where many a rose ceremony has taken place—as the backdrop for their engagement party.
Televised vows are off the table, however.
"My family would be involved, and they would ruin the entire experience because they're crazy," Adams mused to Us Weekly about hypothetical on-air nuptials. "They would have too much fun at the wedding, and that would be a whole other story. Chris Harrison would kick my brother out of a party and be like, 'You're too drunk, you need to leave.'"
Still, he'd be open to the idea of The Bachelor's venerable host officiating the whole affair as long as cameras weren't in tow. "Maybe...he's good at it."
Should the duo decide to go that route, Harrison sounded ready, able and very willing when we asked him a year ago. "The only thing I do know is that if and when they do get married—and again, I hope they do—it will be the best party ever because they are both awesome," he told E! News. "They both are a good time in a can. They both are so anything goes with them."
Almost too good.
Recognizing that their particular level of adorableness may be too much for some, Hyland issued a warning before she set about sharing images from their 2017 helicopter trip to Santa Catalina Island. "Now, I'm going to do an Instagram story of really, really annoyingly cute vomit-worthy videos of my day yesterday," she wrote. "Get out your vom buckets 'cause it's about to get real in this cute house."
Doling out a series of images, each more desirable than the next, she continued to apologize, while also pointing out that when your guy is that great, it's hard to keep it to yourself. Finally, she posted her last picture, writing, "OK, I think I'm done with the gush for now."
But should you find yourself missing their particular brand of delightfulness, there's always going to be more where that came from. Mark us down as here for it.
(Originally published Nov. 24, 2018, at 3 a.m. PT)