Home and Away's Sophie Dillman on falling in love in the workplace: 'Butterflies'

EXCLUSIVE: When Sophie Dillman and Patrick O'Connor met on the set of Home and Away, sparks flew.

Sophie Dillman is Yahoo Lifestyle Australia's new columnist. Sophie will be bringing insider insights into everything from her time on Home and Away to what it's like being in the public eye and falling in love in the workplace.

Sophie Dillman and Patrick O' Connor as Diggy.
Sophie Dillman has spilled on the moment she met her partner, Patrick O'Connor. Photo: Instagram/Sophie Dillman

I haven’t worked in every industry so I can’t be sure, but I don’t think kissing your co-workers is common practice - but in my world, it is. It is still work though. For starters, the script tells you who to kiss, there are normally lots of people watching, and there are cameras following your every bead of summer bay sweat, a small amount of saliva, or in my case the occasional moustache hair.

To be perfectly honest kissing a fellow actor at work feels no different to sending an email. It's just part of the gig. Except when Dean met Ziggy.

Sophie Dillman and Patrick O'Connor on the beach
Sophie and Patrick started their relationship as friends before they became romantic. Photo: Instagram/Sophie Dillman

I wish I could say falling in love is the moment every young girl dreams of. You see the guy from a distance laughing with a friend before he's slowly turning towards you as the sun catches his eye. Time slows down, everything around his face goes hazy, and (I Just) Died in Your Arms starts playing. That wasn’t quite how it happened for me.


It was a slow process. We started as friends many years ago before becoming work colleagues that had to tolerate each other through some of the most extreme weather conditions, sleep deprivation, and never-ending hours on set together. Trust me when I say you learn very quickly if you can stand a person when you're both in the desert in 42-degree heat.

Slowly sparks started firing and the laughter got louder, and also more intimate. Ziggy and Dean were falling and so were Sophie and Patrick. For some time I questioned whether I actually had feelings for him, or if was that just the result of our characters being crazy about each other?

Then I found myself questioning everything. Did he touch me longer than normal? Did he just look at me funny? Was I staring for too long? Were we just doing a really good job of Diggy's romance? Turns out the feelings were all real. I remember the exact moment that it stopped feeling like I was kissing a colleague, and even with the people watching and the sweat dripping down my back, there were a few butterflies in my stomach.

Sophie Dillman and Patrick O'Connor in a car
The couple have been together for years and have recently moved to London. Photo: Instagram/Sophie Dillman

Being together was definitely something we navigated slowly and respectfully, not wanting to ruin the great working relationship we already had. There were lots of very open conversations and time spent working out the best way to move forward. One big positive was that we had worked together for so long and had seen so much of each other already. We knew how the other person ticked, our pet peeves, and our boundaries. We were able to talk about anything and everything fairly seamlessly and without argument.

We were both very nervous about entering into a relationship with a colleague. Neither of us had done anything like it before and, if we are honest, there are not a lot of happy endings floating around in terms of inter-office dating. Even more nerve-racking was the knowledge that if our relationship failed privately, Ziggy and Dean could have crumbled. That was my biggest concern. I had landed the job of my dreams and nothing was going to affect that.

Crazy or not, we decided to give the relationship a go and thank goodness we did. We have a few years under our belt, a fur baby, many crazy holiday stories, and have moved across the world. Thank goodness Ziggy and Dean found each other. Not many people get to be so lucky.

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