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Welsh Love Island star talks about IVF struggles, toxic behaviours and healthy relationships

Reality Star Connagh Howard visits his old school to chat to students about healthy relationships.

Love Island star Connagh Howard has been unveiled as the latest celebrity ambassador for the award-winning Sound campaign – a platform encouraging young men to take personal and collective responsibility in ending violence against women. 

His role as ambassador recently took him back to his old school, Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf in Cardiff, to talk to pupils about healthy relationships, social media, and negative attitudes towards women.

The students and Connagh explored what it means to be in a healthy relationship.

One student said: “A big part of a healthy relationship is trust, there shouldn’t be a need to go through each other’s phones, you should be able to ask your partner things and they should be honest with you.

“The key to a healthy relationship is] being together for the right reasons like you enjoy each other’s company and you love each other as people, rather than the idea of it, as that’s what leads to problems. Be honest with how you feel so you both know you’re there for the right reasons.”

The students said they felt a lot of people got into relationships because of societal pressures.

“I think it’s the norm in society, when people hit a certain age, they feel like they must [be in a relationship].. It’s important to do it for the right reason.”

Discussing his own experiences, Connagh said he struggled to fit in with the other boys in his year group at school. As a shy teenager in Cardiff, he began playing rugby where he was exposed to a lot of ‘lad’ behaviour, especially around women.

He said: “I have always felt different in that sense – even on Love Island – I felt different and not related to ‘Jack the lad’. It was a struggle growing up as I was always the shy one who was too nervous to talk to girls and I lacked confidence.

‘It is our responsibility as men to prevent violence against women.’

The Sound campaign launched in 2023 and helps men sound out relationship behaviours in a safe and constructive way.

It empowers young men to champion and celebrate positive masculinity, to hold each other accountable for their actions, support one another to become the best versions of themselves, and, in turn, end violence against women.

The reality star-turned-personal trainer said he was keen to work with the project to raise awareness around the importance of men sounding out their friends on their problematic behaviours towards women.

“I got involved with the [Sound] campaign because men need to take responsibility for our role in preventing violence against women and helping them feel safer in society. A lot of men say it’s not their responsibility, but it is our responsibility to do what we can to improve the situation.”

It can be very isolating, but it brought us closer’

During the interview the Love Island star also shared his thoughts on the stigma around infertility, exploring the “shame” around not being able to conceive.

It is the first time Connagh has spoken publicly about the issue since he and his partner, fellow reality star, Beth Dunlavey, announced they are expecting their first child, after two rounds of IVF.

According to Connagh, who appeared in season six of Love Island, taboo topics such as infertility need to be normalised and spoken about more among men.

He said: “I never thought I’d struggle having kids, I thought it was a given, but it is common so the more you can talk about it the better because it’s surprising how many people are going through it.

“It was very hard sometimes. You can see why that situation can break a couple if you’re not supporting one another.

“It can be very isolating, but it has brought us closer. There were challenges and arguments but, in the end, you realise you both want this thing so badly to work, which ultimately brings you closer together.”

‘If you see something and don’t say anything then you aren’t helping the problem.’

On the topic of gender based violence and abuse, Connagh says he has witnessed female friends experience problematic behaviours from men.

“I have seen women I know experience coercive control or toxic behaviours which isn’t cool but it’s unfortunately too common for a lot of women to go through. A lot of it comes from men having insecurities and feeling the need to exert their will over someone else.

To combat this, he believes men need to be prepared to speak to their friends and sound out their behaviours towards women, particularly on nights out.

“I’ve been on nights out and seen groups of lads catcalling women and I’m thinking ‘oh you look like an idiot’. People should call out that behaviour more, how would they feel if it was their daughter?

“It takes a lot of courage to hold someone accountable when you see something that isn’t right. If you see something and don’t say anything then you aren’t helping the problem.

“If they are really your mates, they should listen to you and take what you say on board because that’s what your friends are for, they should keep you in check and make sure you’re not contributing to the problem.”

‘New relationship terms shouldn’t be weaponized.’

Chatting to students about what makes a healthy relationship, Connagh explored the role social media plays in shaping young people’s views and perceptions.

“I think attitudes have changed; the new generation are more clued up on social issues,” he said.

“Previously, there was stuff that wasn’t spoken about as much because the world is a completely different place now thanks to social media, but it can also portray a false perception of relationships, they aren’t all rainbows and sunshine, they can be hard.”

He believes normalising terms such as ‘lovebombing’ and ‘negging’ will raise awareness of these behaviours.

“I wasn’t aware of these terms when I was younger,” he said. “But it’s good being able to raise awareness to people about these behaviours. People can weaponize those things as well so it’s a difficult balance but ultimately doing more positive than harm.”

Talking to the students at his old school about this, they said they hadn’t heard of them before.

On ‘Love bombing’, the students asked: “Is it when you go over the top and ‘bomb’ someone with love?”

“I think people do it without realising it. They don’t want to actually hurt someone.”

Discussing coercive control, the students said: “I haven’t heard of it, but I’d guess it means to control someone’s life and stop them from living their life. To me, that’s not a relationship. You need trust in each other.

When asked if they had experienced it, one of the students said: “I think I have, now that I know what it is, but I didn’t realise it at the time.”