updated 03/07/2012 AT 3:20 PM ET
•originally published 03/01/2012 AT 3:00 PM ET
Who knew Jionni LaValle would be the man of Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s dreams.
When Snooki started out on Jersey Shore, she said her “ultimate dream is to move to Jersey, find a nice, juiced hot tan guy and live my life” – and as the show’s seasons have gone on, she has been able to do just that.
But it wasn’t until August 2010 that she met LaValle, the guy who stood out from the others, and the one who has stuck around the longest.
“I’m like, ‘I want to marry you!’ ” Polizzi, 24, giddily told PEOPLE a year ago about her man. “I know he’s the one.”
For those curious, here’s what you need to know about the love of the MTV guidette’s life:
1. He wants a career in education, not reality TV
“He doesn’t give a [expletive] about [celebrities],” Snooki told PEOPLE a year ago, adding that LaValle “freaked out” when he saw a photo of himself and Snooki in a magazine. “He said, ‘I don’t want to be in that world’ He’s trying to be a teacher.” (P.S. He was found to be super-shy when he came with Snooki and her dad for a PEOPLE TV shoot. And her answers in this video made him blush and shake his head at her.)
2. He and Snooki had a dramatic split during season four
The majority of the time, Snooks and her man are spotted looking lovey-dovey, but when the guidette and the rest of her Jersey Shore cast spent a season in Italy, it brought on some dramz between the otherwise happy couple. Following Polizzi’s provocative dancing at a nightclub, a livid LaValle, who was in town to visit his girl, stormed off – and later in the night after arguing, grabbed his things, told Polizzi she was single and hightailed it to the airport. The two reconciled shortly thereafter.
3. He knows the way to Snooki’s heart
Chocolates and roses? Fuhgettaboutit! Pickles are obviously the treat of choice for LaValle’s pint-sized princess. Polizzi knew she was in good hands when she Tweeted, along with a photo, “Omg my boyfriend made me a pickle pancake…yeahhhh he’s amazing!” She continued with, “If you love pickles like I do, pickles are good with anything. Let me liveeeE! :)”
4. Even a Polizzi enemy speaks highly of LaValle
“He’s such a sweetheart,” Tracy DiMarco, of the Style Network’s Jerseylicious, told PEOPLE in 2011 of former high school classmate LaValle, after expressing her disgust with Polizzi. “He’s not into this whole fame game, so I think he tries to stay out of it as much as possible. He and his family are very down to earth.”
5. He’s a huge Miami Dolphins fan
For Christmas, Polizzi spoiled her man with items from his favorite sports team. “I got him some signed Dolphins things,” she told PEOPLE. “He’s obsessed with the Dolphins and Dan Marino.”
Additional reporting by LESLEY MESSER and RENNIE DYBALL