John Stamos's bumpy road to romantic redemption

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle

Newly engaged John Stamos is “on cloud nine” after his Disneyland proposal to Caitlin McHugh.

“I’ve been waiting for the perfect girl for over a decade and she walked into my life,” the Fuller House star, who was married to Rebecca Romijn from 1998 to 2005, told People. “I mean everybody knows that I’ve always loved family, and I wanted to have a family some day and get married again, and everyone’s like, ‘Why don’t you just do it!? Why don’t you just do it!?’”

John Stamos and Caitlin McHugh make their first red carpet appearance since getting engaged. (Photo: Getty Images)

Stamos, 54, continued, “Everybody thinks it’s so easy. The hard part was me. … Like I wasn’t the best me. I was ready, but no one as perfect as Caitlin — a true, pure, beautiful person inside — would’ve never gone for the old me, a few years ago.”

In order to be ready for love with McHugh, 31, the actor explained that he had to “get back to the person [he] was” and “hit reset.”

When his marriage with Romijn ended in 2004, the actor later admitted to feeling “like a failure.” Rumors circulated at the time that his partying contributed to the split, which he somewhat refuted. “I don’t think it contributed to it,” he reflected to People, adding, “I was lost there for a while. I think I needed to be on my own to be me again.”

Rebecca Romijn and John Stamos in February 2004. (Photo: Getty Images)

Stamos seemed to transition to the bachelor lifestyle with ease. During that same interview with the magazine in 2009, the actor maintained his partying didn’t cross the line, but confessed there were “warning signs.” One of those signs came two years prior, during a tipsy appearance on an Australian morning talk show.

“The press beat me up so hard. I felt awful. It’s like 25 years of good behavior and one slip-up,” he exclaimed, adding, “I have to keep myself in check. … That’s part of growing up. I pride myself on having a lot of discipline.”

The actor, who was 46 at the time, also said the bachelor lifestyle was wearing thin. “Running around town, dating a lot of people — it’s a sign of holding onto your youth,” he told People. “I’m getting to the age when there are girls that are too young. There was a girl [I went out with] recently who told a friend, ‘Eh, he’s kind of too old for me.’ And it’s true!”

In 2010, the actor was in the press again with other unflattering headlines.

A Michigan couple attempted to extort Stamos for $680,000, claiming they had photos of him with cocaine and strippers that they would sell to the tabloids. The woman also alleged she had an intimate relationship with Stamos when she was 17 (he would have been 40) in 2004. Stamos admitted to meeting her, but didn’t elaborate on the status of their relationship. However, he unequivocally denied such photos existed and the man and woman were later sentenced to four years in prison for convictions of conspiracy and interstate communications to extort money. They admitted that no such photos existed.

Still, behind closed doors, the actor was battling demons that were eventually made public following the 2014 death of his mother. “My father passed away [in 1998] and I got divorced. … It sent me sort of down a wrong path,” Stamos reflected to Howard Stern in 2016, adding his mother’s passing “knocked [him] off” and was “very hard.”

“I could stop [drinking] on a dime. I could stop. In the times that I went back, it just sort of deteriorated my life, and who I was, and my morals and my values,” he explained. “I lost myself, I lost my sense of discipline, which my dad taught me so well, and I just became someone — more and more, I was just dipping into that dark place. It happened more and more and it just got darker and darker,” Stamos said. “It stunted my growth. Emotionally — maybe I would be married with kids right now.”

In 2015, the actor was arrested and eventually charged with one count of DUI. “I had a horrific DUI, which I am so embarrassed by,” he told Stern. “I could have hurt somebody, it was really stupid and ignorant of me. And I hated myself for that. It was a bad, bad thing. So I said to myself, I have to stop this up and down, up and down, I have to.”

The actor — who told Stern last year he doesn’t drink or get high (which he said he didn’t miss “at all”) — eventually entered a 30-day substance abuse program. He also admitted to struggling with Ambien, a prescription sleep medication.

“I walked in those doors, I said, ‘Tell me what to do,’” he recalled. “I’ll do anything I can — and if it doesn’t work after the time, then it didn’t work, but I’m going to apply myself a hundred percent to it. Which I haven’t over the years.”

Stamos said he was “hurt from losing my mom.” He continued, “I derailed over the years. I never really got back on track. … A piece of me just was gone. … It was a big part of my purpose for many, many years to be there for her and be a good son.”

Now Stamos wants to be a good husband for Caitlin McHugh. The couple began dating around that Stern interview in early 2016, and it’s clear that working on his sobriety — and himself — has made a big difference in his life.

“We’re a perfect balance,” Stamos told People on Tuesday. “I’m like hyper and tense and she’s like, ‘It’s cool, man. Everything’s fine.’ She’s so calm and so graceful, which, I’m not either of those things. So it’s a great balance. … And she’s just a pure, authentic beauty. Like she’s not trying to be something she isn’t. She doesn’t care about money or showbiz.”

The actor’s road to romance redemption may have been bumpy, but it looks like he will get his happy ending.

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