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Here's What Happened To Young Couples Whose Relationships Went Viral In 2017

Some relationships lasted, others ended. Everyone got a free trip from MTV to NYC (JK — but actually).

Posted on December 29, 2017, at 3:22 p.m. ET

In 2017, millions* of relationships ended at the same time that millions of new ones were formed — all in total privacy. However, for a small handful of people, their relationships and breakups went viral on social media.

Josh Avsec

*A completely random and hyperbolic statistic, but you get the point.

2017 was also the year people on Twitter shared minute and basic musings about relationships, others calling out those people for their "bare minimum Twitter" standards, and strangers "shipping" complete strangers into a relationship so intently that it got a little out of hand.

BuzzFeed News checked back in with a few couples (and exes) who opened up their relationships to the public this year — and got some fans and critics in the process.

We asked them to give us a quick relationship status update, and to reflect on what the bizarre and unique experience of a flash of internet fame was like on them and their bond.

Here's what some of them had to say, and where they are today.

In April, people rooted for a couple to get back together after the husband, Frankie, continued to send their dog, Apollo, gifts and cards on his birthday two years after separating from his wife, Rebecca.

My ex and I split up two years ago and he still sends our dog, Apollo, a birthday card and gift card to petco on hi…

Rebecca and Frankie told BuzzFeed News they were high school sweethearts, but after getting married, things got "rocky."

The two decided to separate. Frankie moved out and Rebecca had custody of their dog Apollo. But even after two years apart, Frankie sent their dog a birthday card and gift card to Petco with a long, heartfelt message.

"Continue to be there for her like you were for me," Frankie wrote in the card addressed to Apollo. Rebecca then shared the gesture on Twitter, where it quickly went viral. And sent many people welling up with emotion.

Strangers cried over it, and commenters in the story wanted the two to reconcile and get back together.

Well, some of you might be happy to know that that today, heading into 2018, Rebecca and Frankie are together and giving their marriage another shot. "The whole experience brought us to communicate again and for the first time since our separation," Rebecca told BuzzFeed News.

Rebecca Hernandez

After her tweet and story gained national attention, Rebecca said she contacted Frankie to let him know she would take down any social media posts and stop publicizing their strained relationship if he was at all uncomfortable.

Interestingly, this forced them into a conversation "that wasn’t centered around divorce" for the first time in a long time, she said.

"At first things were a little awkward," she said. "We just didn’t know how to react or how much to share with the world who was suddenly curious about our relationship status."

After a few days of "an overwhelming amount of emotions" the two mutually decided to move back in together, co-parent Apollo, and to try again as a married couple.

Tragically, a month after the whirlwind of the viral moment subsided, Rebecca's cousin died by suicide.

She told BuzzFeed News she knew Frankie was meant to reenter her life, and that he was an "angel" to her during the painful grieving process.

"Frankie never left my side ... To this day, I tell my family that I believe he came back into my life at a time where I was going to need him more than ever. The way he took care of me and my family during something so tragic spoke volumes."

Apollo is also elated to have his dad back in their home. The two have been inseparable since, she added.

"We shared some tears about our time lost, the pain we went through, the lessons learned and then rejoiced in the fact that our story wasn’t over yet."

In August, 19-year-old Lea Adame observed a guy feeding his girlfriend individual chicken nuggets as she was getting her nails done in a salon in Orange County. Adame's tweet and photo of an unidentified couple quickly went viral.

Twitter: @leaadame

Adame told BuzzFeed News she learned that the manicurist in front of her was actually the mom of the boyfriend, and that the mom and the girlfriend were meeting for the first time.

Strangers online thought this was a sign of true love, while others thought it was downright cringeworthy.

After the moment went viral, the couple in the photo came forward and identified themselves as 23-year-old Aubrey Yip and 25-year-old Sam Huynh.

Yip and Huynh are still together today, but they told BuzzFeed News they weren't "official" at the time their private moment was shared. That quickly changed...or, er, was quickly forced to change.

Paola Pentón González, 25, and her 24-year-old boyfriend, Gabriel Martinez Rivera, were also shot into a spotlight in August when people noticed just how far Martinez would quite literally go to capture a photo for his girlfriend.

Gabriel Martinez Rivera

Pentón told BuzzFeed News Martinez takes the majority of the scenic and posed photos in her Instagram feed. But earlier in July, Martinez shared a photo their mutual friend had secretly taken of him hanging off a boat with his arm fully extended — all to frame the perfect shot of Pentón in the water.

This impressed and amused Twitter user @_KingNeek so much she shared the photo, and it was retweeted over 20,000 times.

"He must really love that woman," someone commented. Others thought it was extremely "self-indulgent."

The couple is still dating today. Pentón said shortly after their story was published, she received calls from local and international media outlets. MTV even flew them out to New York City for a photo shoot.

MTV also flew teen couple Kittakone Sirisombath Jr. and Destiny La'nae Irish to NYC after their relationship went viral. In September, Sirisombath admitted on social media that he lied to Irish about not being hungry on their first date because he was nervous about not having enough money to pay for the meal.

Kittakone Sirisombath Jr.

Sirisombath told BuzzFeed News during their date at Chili's, he quickly realized he only had enough money to pay for Irish's order. "I was nervous about my financial situation but after she ordered I knew I was in the clear," he said, laughing.

"This story is a rite of passage if you were ever broke and tried to date someone," people reacted. Others were surprisingly moved by this admission.

The two are still dating, and according to Sirisombath, they "hardly ever talk about" the internet attention. Even after being flown to be featured on MTV's TRL — which he admits was "surprising" and "pretty amazing."

Kittakone Sirisombath Jr.

"The most memorable moment of it all was experiencing something of a lifetime with someone I genuinely care about and have love for, but after a week or two it was right back to our normal lives," he said, laughing.

"Destiny is my friend before any title — a pure soul that you can't deny."

A few months ago, college student Jake Moreno became well-known on Twitter for asking his professor to help him draft a text message to a girl named Hannah he wanted to take out on a date.

yooo i have about 0 skills when it comes to texting girls so i legit asked my english professor to help me draft a…

"Jacob approached me after class wondering if the triangle and Aristotelian Rhetoric could be used to ask a woman on a date and I was intrigued, thus my help," Shannon Atkinson, a philosophy of religion professor, told BuzzFeed News. Spoiler alert: Moreno drafted up a text asking Hannah out, and Hannah agreed to a date.

Moreno's efforts made many folks laugh, but it also made an earnest impression on a lot of people. Many were invested in the potential love story between the two.

Unfortunately, according to Moreno, things did not "end well" after two dates. Hannah did not respond when we asked for her side of the story and assessments of the dates.

Jacob Moreno

"I wish we were together; that would have been awesome. But, yeah, unfortunately that didn't end well," he said.

Moreno said "drama" arose after the two went on a second date together and he asked her if he could share a photo of them "because so many people were asking for an update."

There was apparently a misunderstanding, or a change of heart, about privacy, and the consensus seems to be that these two are not going to pursue a relationship anytime soon.

In February, a couple became internet famous for breaking up in a very dramatic way. Harrison Bach and Jacqueline Martin decided to document and share their separation through a photo shoot.

Harrison Bach

Harrison Bach and Jacqueline Martin were each other's "first lovers," so their breakup was particularly difficult and emotional.

Bach had the idea for a breakup photo shoot because it would be "ironic and funny" and "artistic," he told BuzzFeed News at the time.

One of his classmates shared their photos on Twitter, where it caught mass attention.

Bach said his friends and family were overwhelmingly supportive and positive toward them and their photos, but the public reception was one of overwhelming discomfort.

Even though the two exes had a lot of love for each other and had kept the door open for rekindling at the time, they are now living on opposite sides of the world and have moved on. Martin told BuzzFeed News recently that she looks back at that time with some "cringe" but thought it was an "interesting" and "cool" experience overall.

Jacqueline Martin

Martin joked that her one big regret was those baggy jeans she wore in the photos. "I'll never be wearing those pants again! I don't think I'll ever live that down."

She currently lives in Michigan and is working toward a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Bach now lives in China. "The photo shoot was blown out of proportion by social media," he said. But he was struck by how people in his real life responded to his viral fame.

Harrison Bach

"Friends and people who I have texted months prior to [the photo shoot] asking about catching up or hanging out ignored me then, but immediately started to seek me out," Bach said. "This lame and accidental 'two seconds of fame' really brought some good revelations out."

He said he was mostly impressed by how cool and unfazed Martin was during the whole viral moment:

"While we were experiencing this minor glimpse of global recognition, it didn’t change her sights for one second and just showed how admirable and heartwarming it is to have someone in your life that doesn’t need the internet news, memes, digital self-perception in a sense to know how they feel about you."

If there were an antithesis of "goals," social media decided Joe O'Brien and Natalia Kaiser were it in July. The teens gained infamy after they joked about being homeowners at a young age. A lot of people did not take it as a joke.

We just bought our first house at the age of 17&16. So proud of how hard we worked these last few years to get it 😁

The couple told BuzzFeed News they posed in front of a relative's house and used the photo to satirize the language homeowners use in social media posts in a tweet.

A lot of people on Twitter thought they were serious and called him "attention-seeking," spoiled, and privileged. (A lot of tweets were later deleted.)

Kaiser said she was partly amused but also concerned by how vicious some of the responses were.

"Of course my parents would never let me move in with my boyfriend at this age and there's no way we could afford an entire house," she said. "It has just gotten so much more attention than I anticipated."

The couple are still dating today. Kaiser told BuzzFeed News the negative backlash never took a negative toll on their relationship. In fact, "the whole thing really brought Joe and I closer together because we had something really fun to share," she said.

Natalia Kaiser

"It was just a really funny thing that happened and we had a lot of fun with it. What really surprised us was all the people who saw. It’s just crazy to think about," she said.

She advises any other couples whose relationships may unexpectedly become adored, or scrutinized, by the public to "just have fun and enjoy it while it last because it’s a real shock when it happens."

Perhaps the most "famous" young couple to come out of 2017 were 21-year-old Michelle Arendas and 22-year-old Josh Avsec. Their private quips over Tinder messaging became characters onto which millions of people projected their romantic ideals.

Michelle Arendas / Josh Avsec

Shortly after the two individually shared their stories on BuzzFeed News, they were quickly flown to New York City to meet for the first time on Good Morning America. Cameras then followed them to Hawaii for their first official date, where they were interviewed about each other every step of the way.

As GMA cohost Michael Strahan stated at the top of the segment, "so many people are rooting for" Arendas and Avsec to become an item. They were even synonymously known as "that Tinder couple" online.

Avsec did not respond to inquiries, and Arendas did not want to comment any further on the frenzy surrounding their relationship.

Arendas said she just wants to maintain a "quiet and normal" status today.

BONUS: In June, a group of women simultaneously and accidentally discovered they were dating the same man when he messaged all of them in one group chat. After the man, Nathan, quickly fled the chat, the seven strangers in the chat began talking and named the chat "Nathan's beautiful Girls."

Charissa Harris

The seven women, who all live in different parts of the world and who did not know about one another, began forming relationships with one another in the group chat. They told BuzzFeed News they often swapped notes and stories about dating Nathan, but eventually the group chat became a home for friendly banter and support.

"I consider the girls my friends already even if we haven’t met in person yet," one of the women Nathan dated, Justinne, said. "Instead of fighting for this guy — who, by the way, is not worth it — we uplifted each other and remained positive."

For the women who lived closer in proximity, they were able to meet up IRL! Justinne told BuzzFeed News she even got free drinks from a bartender who heard about their story.


Justinne (left) and Stefanie (right)

Justinne and Stefanie met each other in person for the first time one night for drinks. "It seemed like we've known each other for so long," Justinne said. "She was so sweet and she even called me her little sister."

Charissa of the group chat told BuzzFeed News she was out of the country and was unable to meet up with everyone. But beyond these seven women who all consider each other friends, she's met other women online — some of whom wondered if they were also dating the same Nathan.

"I wish I can thank him for bringing us together," Justinne added, laughing.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.