Love is a battlefield.
Usually, that sentiment is only meant metaphorically. But in the case of Jersey Shore's Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and his seemingly never-ending roller coaster of a relationship with baby mama Jen Harley, it's sadly more literal than it ever ought to be.
In a year that should've been celebratory for the reality star, one in which he and his old roommates returned to MTV in the wildly successful Family Vacation revival that's currently already in its second season, Ronnie's life, instead, has been consumed by the whiplash-inducing ups and downs of a violent and troubling relationship. And thanks to the MTV cameras documenting much of his 2018. Not to mention an alarming and ill-advised propensity to air out all his dirty laundry (or, at least, his version of events) on social media, we continue to have a front-row seat for all of it—whether we like it or not.
It's been nearly two years since Ronnie and Jen, who'd begun their relationship only three months prior, announced to the world that she was with child. In the December revelation that they were expecting, we also learned that Jen, already mother to an 11-year-old son named Mason, was six months along in her pregnancy with their future daughter. And it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out under which circumstances the pair decided to give a relationship a go.
And with little Ariana welcomed into the world on April 3, 2018, and Ronnie, he of the volatile and never-ending relationship with former co-star Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, not to mention the assault charge, barroom brawls, and punches thrown at fellow housemate Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, gushing about his excitement to turn over a new leaf and mature into fatherhood alongside his girlfriend, it seemed like however unplanned this burgeoning little family might have been, it could be a good, stabilizing force in his life.
Two days later, Jersey Shore: Family Reunion premiered and that all went out the window.
You see, as Ron and Jen were adjusting to life as new parents—a time when the stress on their untested relationship already had to have been at all-time highs—they were beginning to relive Ron's antics in Miami earlier that year. And when the April 19 and 26 episodes aired, the world learned that Ron had likely cheated on Jen after a night out while she was back home in Las Vegas, seven months pregnant, and then watched as he spiraled with guilt, admitting to Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi that he didn't want to propose to his pregnant girlfriend "because she's not...," revealing in a confessional that he still loves Sammi, and joked about canceling the cable so Jen wouldn't see what he'd done.
"Me and Jen obviously rushed things," he said to the camera. "If Jen was not pregnant, I don't know if I'd be with her."
Suffice to say, their viciously public social media fight days later was no surprise. Stunning in its severity, sure. But unexpected? Not at all. But it did give us our first taste of the sort of he said-she said that would come to define the way the pair navigate their low points, with Ron asserting "can't turn a natural born HOE, into a HOUSEWIFE, if you find them in the gutter then leave them in the gutter" and accusing Jen of keeping "sex videos of their ex." Jen's retort? "You can't turn a coke head into a father."
Hours later, Ron was back on social media to apologize for the part he played in taking their discord so public. "I want to apologize for earlier to my fans, and especially @tater_tot_kitty," he wrote. "I acted on my gut and not rationally. I should've never acted in such a [manner]. My deepest [apologies]."
The very same day, he was captured live on her Instagram Story, seemingly threatening her—"Put your f—ing hands on me again," he said. "I dare you. I f—ing dare you"—and the relationship was over.
"He apologized for everything and admitted where he had been wrong but he also wants what's best for his daughter and he realizes this is not a healthy environment for her," a source told E! News at the time. "They have split but for now they are both living in his Las Vegas house. Jen will most likely be moving out."
In what would come to be a pattern, the pair began slowly inching their way towards civility relatively quickly after breaking up. By the time Ariana's illness made a hospital visit necessary in mid-May, they were back to giving their relationship another try. "Right now they're just trying to focus on their daughter and make sure she's okay," a source told us. "They're trying to work things out for her sake. They're giving it a shot."
The reconciliation was short-lived and, by June, as cameras were rolling on season two, the pair found themselves in a physical altercation on the Planet Hollywood premises, sparked by the sudden death of Jen's dog, that resulted in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department wanting Jen "for domestic violence." Ron declined to press charges. But a few weeks later, when she allegedly dragged him with a car while Ariana was in the vehicle, things were different and she was arrested for domestic battery and released on $3,000 bail. However, on July 3, charges against Jen were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
By the end of the summer, they were back together, vacationing in Puerto Rico in with baby Ariana, and by early October, they were taking to social media to build their relationship up, rather than tear it down. "How we are all the time," Jen captioned a video of her and Ronnie in a loving embrace. "We went through a rough time but we are strong and best we've ever been. I love you and have your back always."
Alas, the peace was, yet again, short-lived. On October 24, a day before an especially dramatic Family Vacation episode that ended with Ron and Jen blowing up at one another yet again while in Atlantic City, Ronnie was back in his Instagram Story, sharing a photo of himself with a black eye and appearing to lay the blame with Jen. "Sorry for lying to my friends and family, sometimes u love people so much your (sic) willing to lie and hurt the people that u love the most to protect," he captioned the photo.
Naturally, Jen's rebuttal wasn't far off. In the comments section of her now-private Insta feed, she seemed to make reference to the situation, writing, "I don't post my s--t on IG lol. He's lying. I'll prove it again with the car thing I can't deal with a drug addict anymore it's getting so out of control (sic)."
Next came the now-deleted videos of their daughter crying, as each tried to lay blame on the other for the incident, and screenshots of text messages from one to the other that seemed to incriminate both in some unhealthy behavior towards the other. And then, as if on cue, they were photographed spending the day together in Miami.
If you're confused by all this, you're not alone. "Friends are unsure as to what the status of Jen and Ronnie's relationship is at the moment," an insider told E! News. "They have always been on-and-off with each other because things are so volatile between the two of them, but they're ultimately brought back to each other because of their daughter."
The drama continued into 2019, with the duo calling it quits once again after a huge fight on New Year's Eve. "They got into a huge fight and she threw something at his head," a source told E! News at the time. "They are a mess. At this point, they even laugh about it."
But it was no laughing matter when, days later, Ronnie filed a domestic battery report against Jen after their violent fight on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. Six months later, the domestic battery case against Jen was dismissed.
In the early hours of Friday, Oct. 4, Ronnie was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and felony domestic violence following a reported altercation with Jen, which occurred in the presence of their daughter. A police spokesperson said that a 911 call was made around 2:40 a.m. on Oct. 4, about a battery incident in progress at a Los Angeles area residence. When officers arrived at the home, they observed the victim and the suspect involved in a physical altercation. The child was unharmed.
According to the spokesperson, the suspect refused to allow officers into the LA residence, which led them to make a forceful entry. The spokesperson added that "there was a minor use of force with a Taser on the suspect," who was then arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and kidnapping. Ronnie's bail is currently set at $100,000.
What's clear, however, is that there's no end in sight for this vicious cycle. Not yet. And as long as they keep being forced to relive their darkest moments caught on camera months after the fact as new episodes of Family Vacation continue to be the thing that picks at their freshly-healed wounds, there will be no relief for them or baby Ariana. Or for us.
This article was originally published on Mon, Oct 29, 2018, 1:31 p.m.