Sometimes reality TV feels a little too real.
And Ronnie Ortiz-Magro admitting he was still in love with Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola on last night’s Jersey Shore Family Vacation, even though he was about to welcome his first child with girlfriend Jen Harley, felt like watching a car wreck, where you just can’t look away despite knowing you totally should.
Ronnie and Sammi’s relationship drama dominated the MTV reality hit during its original six-season run from 2009-2012…and is still the main topic of conversation in the Family Vacation Miami house, despite Sammi choosing not to return. Arguably one of reality TV’s rockiest romances, we decided to take a stroll down memory lane…but you might want to fasten your seat belts before we take off because this one gets very bumpy.
Summer 2009: Sammi and Ronnie first start dating during the first season of Jersey Shore, after she had a brief flirtation with Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.
January 2010: Though they end filming as a couple, Ronnie and Sammi break up by the end of the live season one reunion special after never-before-seen footage of a conversation she had with The Situation is aired and Ronnie feels betrayed. “It’s done,” Sammi says.
April 2010: Season two kicks off and the couple has not spoken since the reunion, and single Ronnie goes all out in the premiere…only to eventually want to get back together with Sammi. S—t hits the fan after Jenni “JWoww” Farley and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi decide to write the infamous anonymous letter, detailing all of Ronnie’s bad behavior…but it backfires when Sammi chooses Ronnie and it leads to a massive feud between her and the other two guidettes.
Season 3, 2011: After many volatile arguments, including a blow-out fight that included Ronnie destroying Sammi’s belongings and throwing a bed while she was standing on it, the couple breaks up, with Sammi then choosing to leave the house. She returns two episodes later and though they almost reconcile, they end the season still broken up after Sammi admits to once hooking up with Mike’s friend, Arvin (before she was with Ronnie).
March 2011: Their costar Paul “Pauly D” Delvecchio tells E! News that the couple just needs to call it quits. “They need to move on!” Spoiler alert: they do not move on!
Season 4, 2011: Soon after the cast heads to Italy, the couple gets back together…only to break up again….and then get back together again.
December 2012: Jersey Shore ends its six-season run on MTV with Ronnie and Sammi ending the series as a couple during the live reunion special, despite their ongoing fighting and their parents not being thrilled over their decision to move in together.
August 2014: The couple announces their split, with Sammi telling E! News, “I wish him nothing but the best. Right now, I’m focused on myself.” Ronnie blamed their schedules for the breakup.
“We were drifting apart and not really spending any time together,” he said at the time. “I still care about her. She’s a great girl, but we were growing distant. It was for the best.”
But in the Jersey Shore Family Vacation premiere, Ronnie admitted to cheating on Sammi.
“Once we left the shore house, me and Sam decided we were going to take the next step,” he said. “And we were getting towards that stage where it was like, I either have to s— or get off the pot.
“She gave me a timeline. She was like, I want to get married in six months—and I’m still trying to figure my life out,” he explained. “I got cold feet. I wanted to do the right thing, but there was a part of me that was like, ‘I’m not going to do the right thing.’ So I didn’t do it. I ended up cheating, she found out. I blew it.”
March 2016: A source tells E! News the couple were on again after she posted a photo from her 29th birthday celebration. “They are seeing each other again, [but] taking it slower this time around,” the insider said. “They were just in Mexico together as well. They have a lot of history.” However, their relationship is never confirmed by either party.
December 2016: Ronnie begins dating Malika Haqq after meeting while filming E!’s Famously Single.
“We had a lot in common from the start and it was an instant friendship. The attraction quickly became a mutual romance,” Malika and Ronnie told E! News exclusively. “Our support for one another through this challenging experience made us strong in a very short period of time. We had an opportunity to really get to know each other living in such close quarter.”
February 2017: Ronnie and Malika break up, with Khloe Kardashian‘s BFF explaining, “I think Ronnie and I were odds from the very beginning,” she explained. “I think that we define opposites attract.”
June 2017: It’s reported that Sammi is dating fellow New Jersey native, Christian Biscardi, with the reality star first posting a photo of the couple on Instagram in April.
August 2017: Some of the cast, including Sammi, reunited for E!’s Reunion Road Trip: Return to the Jersey Shore, with Ronnie choosing not to participate.
October 2017: All of the cast, minus Ronnie, reunite at Deena Cortese‘s wedding. During the Family Vacation premiere, we learned Ronnie never reached out to Deena after her father passed away in 2016, leading to a falling out.
November 2017: MTV announces the pick-up of Jersey Shore Family Vacation, with the entire original cast returning minus Sammi.
December 2017: Ronnie and girlfriend Jen Harley announce they are expecting their first child after they began dating earlier in the year.
March 2018: Ahead of Family Vacation‘s debut, Sammi takes to Instagram to reveal why she chose not to participate.
“I have chosen not to join the show this season because I am at a completely different place in my life right now focusing on my businesses and relationship,” she wrote. “I am not the same person as I was when I was 22. At 31, I am currently extremely happy in every aspect of my life and want to avoid potentially TOXIC SITUATIONS.”
April 3, 2018: Ronnie’s girlfriend Jen gives birth to their daughter, Ariana Sky.
So excited to be a #Father. Words can’t describe the feeling. You live your life not ever really knowing the meaning of true love until you have a child,” Ronnie wrote on Instagram. “True unconditional love. You love your Significant other, you love your family. I have to say I understand when everyone said you’ll understand ” when you have a child of your own or when you become a parent.”
Jersey Shore Family Vacation airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on MTV.