Spoilers are ahead. When Emily Miller and Cam Holmes first met, they were in swimsuits filming Netflix reality show Too Hot To Handle season 2 in Turks and Caicos, forced to test their tumultuous, budding relationship by abstaining from sex in front of the entire world. So it’s slightly bizarre to see them now, fully-clothed, cuddled up on a couch in a London flat as they recount their last six months in the real world.
That dissonance instantly evaporates once you see just how happy they are. “We very much still together,” Cam tells Refinery29 over Zoom as the two push their faces together, their bright, Crest-white smiles never dimming for even a second. “About a month and a half after we wrapped the show, we moved in together, so we’ve been together for about four or five months.” The UK is still in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the pair managed to steal away right after filming and take a short vacation together to Madeira, Portugal. However, they had to keep the evidence a secret until the show finished airing on June 30. “Em’s been able to upload certain pictures but I had to wait for mine, because there’s too much of a giveaway.”
But after the white sands and glamorous getaways that brought them together came an unprecedented period of normalcy — of grocery shopping, meeting the parents, washing dishes. Of learning how Cam and Emily can exist as two normal twenty-somethings trying to build a future together.
“We just sit in our pajamas watching TV,” Cam says. Emily nods. “We’ve basically binged the whole of Netflix together.”
Cam and Emily’s journey on Too Hot To Handle was turbulent. While they instantly coupled up and were clear about their initial attraction to each other, Cam wrestled with the idea of monogamy, especially as new women entered the villa. When he was chosen to go on a date with one of the new contestants, they both flirted, almost kissed, and Cam downplayed his relationship with Emily. On another occasion, he struggled with the decision of whether to accept another woman’s invitation to shower together. Just as Emily was ready to give up on any hope of commitment, Cam apologized and confessed his feelings to her, making the Welsh athletic trainer one of the contestants who showed the most growth during the season.
It seems the growth has only continued from there. “Moving in together was the logical next step for us,” Cam says. “It was weird because normally when you meet someone you text them, have time apart, and go through that stage. But we just met each other in the traditional way and did the opposite — texting when we got back. It wasn’t the same, and I legit couldn’t be without her,” he says, blushing.
“Oh my god, my heart!” Emily exclaims, putting a hand over her chest.
Refinery29: How was that transition from the show to real life?
Emily: “It was so natural transitioning to real life. It was fine.”
Cam: “Going from that actual bubble on the show and that huge high, when we left it was a bit strange. I remember the first time we came home, it was the first night we spent with each other outside of the villa, and we went to the shop to get some food and since we hadn’t cooked for ourselves since before the show so we just didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We kind of panicked.
“That was very fun seeing each other do normal things. Obviously we got to know each other well on the show, but we got to know each other so much more. We even say that we definitely wouldn’t be good on the show now because we’re just so strange and weird around each other, like we’re very comfortable. Whereas on the show we were kind of reserved, playing it cool, but now it’s just no barriers and no boundaries.”
What was something that surprised you about the other person?
Cam: “For me I think it was how strange she is, in a good way. I’m very quite weird and my sense of humor is so childish. In the villa I got a glimpse of it, but when we got home I realized that she’s as weird as me — she does a lot of different voices and accents — I realized that she’s as childish as me and that was a big surprise just to see that side of her. ”
Emily: “Mine was how much of an actual geek he is. I know we touched on it in the villa but I didn’t know how much he liked Lord of the Rings. But since living with him it’s like a whole other level. I used to think he was so mysterious and cool but now that’s gone completely out the window.”
Cam: “Sometimes I’m just like, ‘I just want to sleep on my own tonight and watch a Marvel film, are you alright with that?’ And she’s like ‘No! You’ll sleep with me.”
Emily: “And other times he’s like ‘Get in an elf costume!”
Cam: “No, no that hasn’t happened yet.”
Emily: “Watch this space!”
What was harder, making your relationship work on the show or real life?
Emily: “Making our relationship work in the villa was much harder than in real life, to be honest. He was so up and down the whole time, which made things difficult. But when he finally made his mind up it’s been smooth sailing since then.”
Cam: “What caused so much inner turmoil in my head was that before the show, I said to myself, The next girlfriend I get is the girl I’m going to be spending the rest of my life with. I didn’t want to play around and just go from relationship to relationship. So in the villa I was literally making this decision, like Is this the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with? And I don’t know if that was projected in the show too much but in my head I was thinking that if I was going to commit, I was going to commit fully. So since the villa it’s been easy because once I made that decision, I’m Commitment Cam now, I don’t go back on that.”
Cam was presented as the one with the most growth, but Emily came in with a different mindset too — do you feel you grew?
Emily: “I remember coming on the show being like, I’m not going to date anyone; just going there for me and going to have fun. So I’ve definitely grown. When he was having his ups and downs, usually I’d run a mile. I’d see the warning signs and run for the hills. But obviously in there you can’t run and you do have to face these things head on. That was growth for me because I don’t usually do that, I usually just avoid confrontation. So I had to decide whether it was worth fighting for me.”
Was there anything either of you nervous about your partner seeing when the show aired?
Cam: “I obviously knew about the Christina situation and the shower scene — those were the two main things...I knew that she was going to see it and I tried to be as honest as I could about what I said and what I did, but you forget about some stuff in the moment. So watching it back wasn’t the nicest.”
Emily: “We actually had our first argument after watching it back. About the date and how sneaky he was.”
Cam: “It’s one thing knowing about it and one thing seeing it.”
Emily: “After I saw it his response was, ‘Babe, it was six months ago. Get over it.’ Which was not the right way to handle it.”
Cam: “I came around though because I realized that I had made her look a bit stupid on global TV, and at first I didn’t. Before I was just like, ‘I live with you and your family now, what don’t you get?’”
Even though filming happened six months ago, it must feel like a different world.
Cam: “It becomes very current again. You watch it and you feel like it has just happened, because the world is watching it with you as well and they think that’s current. They don’t know about us living together and moving on for the last half year. You’re taking in their responses and fans did give me quite a lot of stick for what I did to [Emily], but it’s fair enough. I don’t argue with that at all. That was a bit of a struggle but we got through it.”
What do you think would’ve happened if you two had met in real life?
Emily: “I honestly think we would’ve still hit it off. Maybe we wouldn’t have been in a real relationship because, as Cam said, it would’ve been sex first.”
Cam: “If we were on the outside, we would’ve had the potential, but in the retreat in the villa it made that potential grow. We both had a lot of issues that weren’t addressed, so we were basically in therapy together. But I agree that if we had met in real life first we would’ve…”
What do you think are going to be the biggest challenges for you two?
Cam: “Going from a private couple to a public couple will present its own set of challenges. You’ve got to have a lot of trust in each other, and you’re going to have a lot of people trying to stir the pot and get between us because that’s what people do. People love love, but they also love drama.”
Emily: “It would be very naive to think that it’ll all be easy from here. But we’re ready for it. We’ve had these past six months to really build our trust and we do, 100%. We understand there will be rumors and people trying to tear us apart, but it is what it is. But we also have fan pages, which is crazy. Camily!”
What are you excited to do together going forward as a couple?
Cam: “Going out together, going to dinners, go on a real holiday. But to be honest, I’m excited just to share her with the world. That sounds so cringey but you want to put your girlfriend or boyfriend out there for the world to see because you’re proud of them. So I can’t wait for that.”
Emily: “Who is he?”
This interview was edited for length and clarity.