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Lea Michele is engaged! How she found love again after Cory Monteith's death

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Lea Michele with Zandy Reich; Lea Michele with Cory Monteith. (Photo: Getty Images)

Lea Michele is on cloud nine after getting engaged to boyfriend Zandy Reich. Over the weekend, the Glee actress proudly showed off her four-carat diamond ring on Instagram, exclaiming she said yes.

Michele’s happily-ever-after comes nearly five years after she suffered the biggest heartbreak of her life: the death of Cory Monteith. He died in July 2013 from a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol.

Monteith, who was 31 at the time of his death, and Michele met on the set of Glee. They briefly dated when the show first aired in 2009 but ended things before the public caught on. Then in 2011, they rekindled their romance and didn’t bother hiding it.

“From the minute I met Cory, I was like, ‘This is the most handsome man I’ve ever seen in my whole life,'” Michele reminisced to Elle. “One day we just looked at each other and we were like, ‘You wanna do this?’ We knew.”

Monteith went to rehab in March 2013, and his struggles with drugs and alcohol were made public for the first time. “I can only imagine what it looks like from the outside,” Michele told the magazine after his death in 2013. “It was such a short period of time between when people found out to, you know, July, but there are so many personal aspects of this whole journey that people are not invited to know. We had a full life, and that had lots of different details that will be ours forever, for only us to know.”

The co-stars were living together and head-over-heels in love when Monteith was found dead in a hotel room in Canada. According to reports, the pair had even been talking marriage and were practically engaged.

The actress kept a low-profile after the tragedy but slowly began to pick up the pieces and try to move on with her life. In an interview with Teen Vogue in January 2014, Michele said she believed it was Monteith who was providing her with the strength to keep going.

“I somehow feel the insane love Cory and I had for each other morphed into this strength that I have right now,” she said. “There’s just something about knowing he’s watching everything I’m doing and feeling like I have to do everything now not just for me but for him. I also have a safety net below me — if I fall or if it’s too much, my friends and family will be there to catch me.”

Eventually that meant trying to date again too. In 2014, the Scream Queens actress began seeing Matthew Paetz, whom she met on the set of her music video “On My Way” in April 2014.

Lea Michele and Matthew Paetz in 2015. (Photo: Kevin Tachman/Getty Images for amfAR)

“I wanted to make sure that I was OK with me, feeling strong and feeling happy on my own. I didn’t want anybody to fill any holes for me — that sounds sexual! I wanted to make sure that I was a whole person again and that no one was coming into my life to put me back together. I needed to do that on my own,” she told Flare in 2015. “I worked very, very, very hard, and I got back to that place where I was genuinely happy and strong and ready to live again and see the world and, you know, bring in more beautiful experiences. And that’s when someone miraculously came into my life.”

Although Michele was trying her best to move on, she found it challenging to do so publicly. Some deemed that the actress rebounded too soon from Monteith.

“I love my fans. They’re incredible, and they were really a part of my whole story and my whole journey with me, so I do come from a place of understanding, but it’s also really hard,” she revealed on the Fempire podcast. “You know, every time I post a picture, then it’s just a landslide of comments that talk about my past and bring that up rather than projecting positivity.”

She continued: “And even though, you know, I don’t think anyone is really projecting hate — it is positive, it’s nothing so, so terrible, but at the end of the day, we have to remember that what we put out there, it manifests and it creates energy and you should want to be the person that chooses to take that second to do something positive.”

As engagement buzz surrounded the pair around their second anniversary, Paetz and Michele abruptly split in 2016. There were various reports as to what happened, but the actress never commented on why they broke up. A few months later, she was linked to Robert Buckley. The actors apparently met through mutual friends, but their relationship quickly fizzled out.

Lea Michele and Robert Buckley. (Photo: Getty Images)

It wasn’t until a year later that Michele was first linked to her future fiancé. Reich and Michele were photographed holding hands in New York City in July 2017. While the coupling seemed new, it was apparently a long time coming.

“They’ve been friends for a long time, a few years,” a source told People at the time. “Things turned romantic recently, and they’re dating now.”

Reich is the president of AYR, or All Year Round Clothing. Prior to AYR, he worked at Goldman Sachs and was the head of business strategy and development for Theory.

The couple have kept their relationship private aside from a few Instagram posts from the actress. (It doesn’t appear that Reich is publicly on social media.)

“When I’m not working, I’m at home with my cat, with my family, with my boyfriend, with the people that I love — and that’s how I reset, and that’s how I center myself,” Michele told People last year. “It’s so important to tune out the noise and the unnecessary, and just focus on the people that you love because they know you better than anyone.”

She added, “I’m very happy and I think that you can tell. I don’t really talk a lot about my personal life, but I’m also the kind of person where I always say, ‘You will see how happy I am just by looking at my face.’ I can’t hide it.”

Cheers to the happy couple!

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