Ian Thorpe is anything but heartbroken over his split with model boyfriend Ryan Channing, telling friends he’s “relieved” it’s finally over after spending 12 months fighting about everything from finances to fatherhood.
“He’s in great shape,” confides one of his neighbours, who says his famous mate had been struggling to find happiness in the relationship for months, before ending it and asking Ryan to move out of his house.
“It was an intense four-year relationship – Ian’s first grown-up relationship and his first serious gay relationship. I think he just grew out of it as he became more and more comfortable in his own skin.”
The confident new Thorpie is like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon, according to friends, who say when he started to date model and law student Ryan in 2015, they were so worried he’d get his heart broken they considered an intervention.
“They were emotional days, with everyone putting in their two cents worth that the glamour boy was using Ian for his celebrity status and would leave him in tears when the novelty wore off,” our source says, confirming nothing could be further from the truth, with Ryan providing loving support to Ian when he needed it most.
The news last week that the couple had split was a surprise to fans, but the relationship had been on the rocks for almost a year, despite the couple publicly revealing they were considering becoming dads.
“We’re talking about it and have for a while, but it’s still early days,” confirmed Ian, 36, after Ryan, 29, was photographed arriving at a reproductive clinic in Beverly Hills in January. “We decided to visit the clinic in LA. It’s all part of the plan at this stage.”
But even then cracks were starting to appear – just days later Ryan unfollowed Ian on Instagram as the couple began to discuss an amicable split because of the intense public interest in their relationship.
“Every little point between them, including how they would approach the future, had to be worked out in private, while they played nice in the public eye and it proved exhausting for everyone,” our source says.
“Ian now just wants to get his mojo back and, for once, enjoy being single. His ex has moved out of their shared house, which can only help Ian start afresh.”
WATCH: Standing his ground! Ian Thorpe says the same-sex marriage plebiscite is a warning to politicians. Story continues after video…
Friends say Ryan was almost part of Ian’s “coming out” process and that as he grew and became more comfortable with his sexuality, the relationship came under more and more pressure.
“Ian once called Ryan his perfect match and dreamed they’d be together forever, but the reality is the dynamic of their relationship began to change very soon after they got together,” our source says.
“He really struggled to look in the mirror and call himself gay, but with Ryan’s help it got easier. Being in his first full-on relationship provided much needed love and stability that was missing and allowed Ian’s opinion of himself to change.”
It wasn’t until clucky Ryan started to openly talk about the couple using a surrogate to become parents – and booked an appointment at the LA fertility clinic – that Ian decided he had to end the relationship.
“As someone who loves kids and is a devoted uncle to his sister Christina’s children, Ian had been open to the idea of fatherhood from the start,” our source says.
“But as soon as doubts crept in about Ryan, he put the idea of bringing children into the equation on ice. He knew it would hurt Ryan, but he suddenly felt he wasn’t ready for a family, or at least not with Ryan.
“It was a defining moment. As someone who had supported his sister when her first marriage broke down and felt scarred by the experience, Ian knew the only time to have a baby was in a happy relationship.”