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The couple’s journey from best friends and band mates to boyfriend and girlfriend

It’s often said that the best relationships begin as amazing friendships. For R5’s Ellington Ratliff and Rydel Lynch, both 22, that statement couldn’t be any more true. But Rydel’s feelings for the drummer didn’t suddenly appear one day. “I don’t remember our first meeting or interactions at all,” she says. “I just know that I have had a crush on him since the beginning. He needed time to realize, but I’ve pretty much liked him for eight years now and was just being patient!”

So it’s no coincidence that later on in our interview, when asked about the biggest lesson she’s learned over the past few years, Rydel responds with patience. In September of 2013, that patience paid off when R5 embarked on a promotional trip to New York City. “We were doing Good Morning America and wouldn’t make it in time on a regular plane,” Ellington recalls. “It was our first time flying on a private jet, so we were all just losing our minds! So sharing that moment with her, we were flirting on the plane and just kind of looking at each other and feeling like big shots.”  

At some point during the course of that New York trip, Rydel and Ellington went from band mates and best friends to boyfriend and girlfriend. Good Morning America, and hello Rydellington. “I never really thought I would ever date Rydel,” says Ellington. “I thought we would always have this thing between us, but I couldn’t deny it. It was unstoppable.  It just took me and I had no choice – nothing else mattered.”

Nothing else did matter – not the fact that he’d recently gotten out of a long-term relationship, or that Rydel happened to be the sister of his best friends. Not even that whole being in a band together thing could stop them from becoming a couple. “It was full-force – I was like, I like him, and that’s it,” remembers Rydel. And it was the same for Ellington.  “It was just like this relationship is going to happen whether I like it or not, or whether she likes it or not,” he says. “Whoever decides that, whatever that is, it’s just going to happen. We had no choice. It was a volcano that had to erupt.”

At first, they attempted to keep it a secret. “We tried to date on the DL,” says Ellington. “But Ryland figured it out! He said to Rydel, ‘Oh Ellington told me.’ And she was like, ‘What! Ellington told you?’ And then he did the same thing to me. Neither of us told him anything, but he got it out of us.” Ryland managed to keep it a secret, but after they returned to LA, the band had a bonfire on the beach. “Ross saw us holding hands and ran off,” he says. “Rydel and I heard everyone whispering. We were like, it’s going down right now! They freaked out like I’ve never seen them freak out before – in a good way! They tackled me!” Rydel still laughs when she thinks about her dad’s reaction. “He goes, well that’s dangerous,” she remembers.

And while their friends and family knew about Rydellington, the fans were another story. “They’re really smart, so I was like let’s let them find out when they find out,” says Ellington. “I’m all about letting things happen naturally. I don’t want to go, ‘Oh hey, we’re dating!’” After a year, they saw an opportunity to confirm the relationship in R5’s All Day All Night documentary, which premiered on April 16, 2015. “It was crazy,” says Rydel. “The hashtag #RydellingtonIsReal was trending – everyone was freaking out!”

It’s hard to believe there was a time when Rydel was too freaked out to even sing in front of Ellington. “I was like no way, he’s my crush,” she remembers of the band’s early days. Now, eight years later, she wants to record a duet. “My favorite thing to listen to right now is alt pop, folky duets with a male and female singer,” she says. “I think it’d be really cool to have something like that on the next album. Since the beginning, even before we were dating, fans were like ‘duet, please, please, please!’ They love the idea of Rydellington so much.”

And it’s obvious how much Rydel and Ellington love each other. “We’re always together, we get to go on tour together, we get to do everything together, and it’s so simple,” says Rydel. “It had to happen,” adds Ellington. “And it’s the best situation you could ask for.”


Photographer: Joe Magnani

Story by: Colleen Broomall

Hair: Matilde Campos

Styling: Robiat Balogun

Grooming: Joseph Adivari


Ross’ Cover Story

Rydel’s Cover Story

Riker’s Cover Story

Ellington’s Cover Story

Rocky’s Cover Story


Saturday 12/12 – 5 PM EST – R5 


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