New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 31, is making history as the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress. She's pretty tight-lipped about her private life, and so her relationship with web developer boyfriend Riley Roberts is low-key. It's so low-key, in fact, that you might not have known they were a couple. Or even that she had a boyfriend (ahem, me, I didn't know). So: Who is Riley Roberts, the private and fiercely supportive boyfriend to one of the most up-and-coming congresswomen in the United States?
How did they meet?
A 2018 Vogue profile on Ocasio-Cortez described Roberts as an "easygoing redhead" (lol) and explains that he's been supportive of her for a looooong time.
Then there’s Roberts, whom Ocasio-Cortez met—“in true nerdy fashion,” she says—at a weekly Friday-afternoon conversation hosted by the dean at BU. He later moved from Arizona to be with her. When I first met him backstage at The Daily Show, he was casually citing tax rates in the 1950s.
At these Coffee & Conversations meetings at BU, according to Insider, Ocasio-Cortez often drove the sessions. Which makes total sense, because if you've seen her speak, you know, she has the talent for it. A college friend told the publication that she would often end the meetings "with thoughtful conclusions that included 'her own twist' on the subject."
While on the other end, Roberts liked to keep quiet. "You could see him in the corner of the room really thinking through things," said a mutual college friend of the couple to Insider, who described him as "philosopher" type.
Together, the couple was brought together by their love of in-depth conversation, and honestly, that sounds amazing? It's said that the couple was (and honestly still is) so low-key that some friends didn't even know they were together until several years after they had all graduated from college.
Apparently, the couple still occasionally heads back up to the Northeast: "In August, she and Roberts took a vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine."
What does Riley Roberts do?
According to LinkedIn, Roberts is head of marketing at HomeBinder.com, which helps people manage the maintenance on their homes. He also works as a consultant to help tech startups grow revenue using marketing and development. It looks like he hails from Boston, Massachusetts, with a dual degree from Boston University.
While some might think that a transition into politics after being thrust into the public eye and moving to Washington D.C., Roberts is still continuing on his aforementioned career path, despite the rumors that conservatives opposing Ocasio-Cortez may be spreading. Back in February, conservative podcast host Luke Thompson tweeted a picture of Roberts's email, claiming in the caption that the freshman representative was paying Roberts to be a member of her staff, "drawing a salary on the taxpayer's dime." Ocasio-Cortez hopped on social media to provide a humbling reality check and remind the nosy Neds of Twitter to mind the business that paid them. "Actually this cal designation is a permission so he can have access to my Google Cal," replied Ocasio-Cortez. "Congressional spouses get Gcal access all the time. Next time check your facts before you tweet nonsense." Checkmate.
Did he attend her swearing-in?
Yes! Roberts was there with Ocasio-Cortez's brother Gabriel (black suit and glasses) and her mother Blanca (who held the Bible for her daughter). Roberts is the tall, bearded gentleman at the far right who was literally beaming from ear to ear in support of his history-making girlfriend.
Roberts also gave his reactions briefly to the New York Post: "A really incredible day, really special." He added that he liked Washington, D.C., thus far. "It’s great."
Has he appeared on her social media?
Again, the couple is very quiet about their relationship, but on Ocasio-Cortez's Instagram announcement that she'd be running for Congress, he's the tall bearded fellow in the third image in the back (swipe through):
Ocasio-Cortez also mentioned him in a Twitter post where she rightly took the GOP and media to task for going to Roberts' family's home looking for slanderous stories about her.
It doesn't look like Roberts has social media of his own, and he clearly has no issue staying quiet but supportive. Hilariously, sometimes Roberts gets mistaken as a volunteer instead of her partner.
He caught social media's attention after appearing in Netflix's Knock Down the House. In the award-winning documentary (which follows the 2018 primary campaigns of Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin), many got a proper glimpse at the superstar progressive's leading man (at 0:35 in this video), and they were surprised enough by Roberts's look to take to Twitter to share their two cents.
Several comments about her boyfriend's aesthetic started rolling in post watching Knock Down the House, and one from political journalist Marie Le Conte started a mean, somewhat funny meme.
In a now-deleted tweet, she wrote, "Apologies for the blatantly mean tweet but THIS is what AOC's boyfriend looks like? Incredible scenes, truly representing all the ambitious and stunning millennial women shackled to boyfriends who look like bin raccoons out there."
Soon, the term "bin raccoon" was used by tons of people, and some fellow redheads had to join in support:
In the end, the couple had the last laugh as Ocasio-Cortez took it to her Instagram stories to say the jokes on Twitter inspired her boyfriend to get that post-election haircut finally.
"The internet roasted Riley into getting a haircut/glow-up after Knock Down the House," Ocasio-Cortez captioned the video of Roberts post-haircut.
Ocasio-Cortez explained on Twitter that because they were so busy with the election, the couple hadn't "gotten a haircut in months."
What does her family think?
In perhaps the most Mom move I've ever witnessed, Ocasio-Cortez's mom Blanca gave a gushing interview to the Daily Mail about how much she wants the pair to get engaged. (Because isn't that exactly what your mom would do if you were to become an overnight political superstar?)
"I love him. He is the most loving, supporting person I've seen. He helped her tremendously during the election," Blanca told the Daily Mail. "They've been together for four years now, after they reconnected from a college breakup. I know they love children, and they do very well with children from the family. So, I hope they get married soon." She added—and I giggled at this part most of all—"Although they haven't told me anything about their plans."
Perhaps in a nod to why Ocasio-Cortez keeps her personal life private, Blanca added: "'I don't like the limelight for myself and my family. But it seems that God played quite a joke on me with this politics stuff.
What else do we know about them?
In news you can file under "cutest ever," Ocasio-Cortez shared on Instagram that she and Roberts have officially adopted a French bulldog puppy. Aaaand my heart just exploded. Last January, she shared a short video of the little cutie, saying, "Hey boo boo! Hi, welcome to our family" and explaining that she and Roberts were still working on a name. She also explained that he was being trained to come out in public with her:
And, like any good dog parent, she's working on the sometimes challenging crate training, saying, "He’s good about his crate when we are right next to it, but he’s such a velcro pup that at night he whimpers if he’s not right next to us. We’re working on it!"
A little later in January, she finally shared the adorable pup's name: Deco, after Art Deco. "A neighbor suggested we name him after an artist. We loved that idea, and decided to name him after Riley & I's favorite design styles: Art Deco—which is also inspired by themes of optimism & social and technological progress, and is a fixture in iconic NYC architecture." (A little love for her home town, too!)
And lest you be worried, even though it doesn't look like Deco has his own Instagram page, Ocasio-Cortez is sure to post pictures of him on her stories. Like this one!
They also attend amazing events together:
First of all, Ocasio-Cortez looks gorgeous here. Hair down, soft lipstick, off-the-shoulder dress? Perfection. Second of all that's definitely her boyfriend Roberts in the back middle (red hair, beard, blue shirt). Per usual, he's grinning from ear to ear, clearly delighted to be there and supporting his girlfriend. Talk about being in the right room.
Thirdly, I want to know what this amazing group of people is getting up to (is it a quiet fundraiser or semi-political gathering? I hope so!). I can spot out of the group Seth Rogen and his wife, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Tracee Ellis Ross, Pharrell and his wife, Anna Kendrick, Jesse Williams, and Don Cheadle and his wife, amongst others. Fans are dying to know what the meeting was about; several months ago, Teigen had a quiet meeting with John and President Obama that she didn't publicize at the time, so that might be a good guess. No one from the group is talking, but I'm willing to bet it's something completely badass, knowing AOC/Roberts.