Let’s face it: We’re obsessed with the ups and downs of celebrities and their love lives. We find hope by watching our favorite long-lasting couples as they go the distance, and try desperately to follow the ups and downs of some of those on-again, off-again pairs who just can’t seem to keep it together.
So what makes for a good relationship in Hollywood? In some cases, the key seems to be one thing that we’re all often told: grow a friendship first. Whether they met on set and got together or knew each other before becoming famous, these celeb couples were friends before things got sexy.
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher
Though they’ve maintained a level of secrecy surrounding their relationship, there was no hiding this long-destined couple. Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher met when they portrayed on-again, off-again couple Jackie and Kelso on That ‘70s Show, but there was definitely nothing romantic between them at the time: Kunis was 14 when the show began filming, and Kutcher had said “she was like my little sister.”
But more than a decade later and after a marriage for Kutcher, the two were dating for real. That has an interesting story too: Apparently, things began very casually between the two, almost mirroring the two rom-coms they starred in simultaneously: Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached. Today, the two are married with two children, and it’s legitimately a fairy tale come to life.
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani
Shelton and his ex-wife, Miranda Lambert, split up in 2015. Around the same time, Stefani was filing for divorce from her own spouse, Gavin Rossdale. The two met as judges on the reality music competition show in 2014, and the two connected over their similar situations. One thing led to another, and soon, they were dating themselves.
But Stefani insists that when things began, she was “in hell,” and was definitely “wasn’t trying to start a relationship.” “It was an incredible gift to be able to have a friend,” she said.
Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber
The ups and downs of this particular pop star couple are legendary. But before all of that began, they really were just friends, at least that’s how Selena Gomez tells it.
In March 2010, when rumors first began, she explained that they had known each other for a very long time, and he was just someone who “understands what [she’s] going through.” This may have been true in the past, but by this point, it seemed pretty obvious that the two were a couple.
No one knows exactly when they actually started dating, but as most timelines paint it, Justin Bieber was into the Disney songstress from the very start. As he is nearly two years younger than her, that probably felt like a big age difference when they were teenagers. Clearly, she eventually came around. And the chances of them being “just friends” again seem slim.
Ariana Grande and Mac Miller
Pop star Ariana Grande has had several high-profile relationships, though none have hit quite the same level as her current one with Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson. Prior to her whirlwind romance and engagement, Grande dated musician Mac Miller.
Miller and Grande dated for nearly two years before she broke things off with him, and their relationship was well-documented on their social media channels. But their relationship goes back long before they started dating: They collaborated back in 2013, and even shared a kiss (solely for the music video). However, in the time since the M.V. release, she dated Nathan Sykes, Jai Brooks, and Big Sean while Ari and Mac maintained a friendship. But during their second collaboration in 2016, things were taken to a whole new level.
Kylie Jenner and Tyga
Monitoring the relationships of the many stars of Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a full time job. While Kim’s love life has remained stable for years now, the rest of the clan seems to spend most of their time maintaining on and off romances with various other celebrities. Among them, of course, is Kylie Jenner.
Jenner spent nearly four years dating rapper Tyga on and off, but they apparently had known each other since they were children. Tyga is significantly older than Jenner, and the first rumors of their romance began when she was just 14. Of course, nothing was made official until she was 18, and while it’s almost certain that he wasn’t lying when he said they were “just friends” early on, it appears as though things started to become romantic between them when she was 17 (and he was 25 — yikes).
Lea Michele and Cory Monteith
Time for more co-stars who made their romance look like a real-life fairy tale — that is, until a tragic ending. Lea Michele and Cory Monteith starred on the Fox hit series Glee, on which their characters fall for each other and begin and on-again, off-again romance.
Meanwhile, Monteith and Michele were very good friends for years while acting opposite one another, until they began dating in 2012. However, in 2013, tragedy struck: Monteith died of a drug overdose after relapsing. Michele wrote songs about him and has multiple tattoos in honor of her late beau.
Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato
A lot of these couples have had happily ever afters, but for Camp Rock stars Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato, something a little more bittersweet happened. The two Disney darlings starred in the film together, and Dems has since admitted that she was crushing on Jonas at the time.
But they maintained a friendship while touring together, and finally began dating in 2010, during the filming of the sequel. Their relationship didn’t last long: This was during the time that Lovato was struggling with substance abuse, which would put a strain on any romance. However, the two are still friendly, and Lovato reached out to congratulate him on his engagement to Sophie Turner.
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
This is one relationship that can survive anything, it would seem. The Latin singers met way back in the ‘90s and collaborated on tracks together. They may have briefly dated at the time but were definitely friends before that.
After both carrying out short weddings to other people, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were married in 2004. They have two children together and worked together during their marriage. In 2011, they divorced, but have continued their professional relationship, with Lopez even referring to Anthony as her “best friend.”
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys
When it comes to co-stars, it’s hard to know when the relationship became more than just that of friends. This is definitely the case for The Americans stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.
They played a couple on TV, and in 2013, the same year it premiered, Russell and her husband got divorced. So was there any overlap, and did Russell fall for her co-star right away? The unmarried couple denied rumors of a romance for nearly a year before confirming, so who’s to say?
Ed Sheeran and Cherry Seaborn
In this case, only one half of the couple in question is famous. Still, the story of singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran and his fiancee, Cherry Seaborn, is a very sweet one. And it involves another celebrity closely tied to the musician.
As the story goes, Sheeran was attending the annual Fourth of July party of his tourmate and collaborator, Taylor Swift, in 2015, at her home in Rhode Island, and Seaborn, a friend of Sheeran’s who he went to school with, happened to be in the area, so he asked Swift if she could attend. Swift, of course, agreed, and the two old friends reconnected and fell in love. In fact, Sheeran’s verse in Swift’s song “End Game” mentions this very event.
Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance
With more than 20 years of marriage to date, actors Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance should be absolute goals for the rest of the couples on this list — or any duo, really. And this is the story behind their epic romance.
Bassett and Vance met at Yale University and were friends for years before things heated up. They were married in 1997 and went to school together more than ten years prior to that, so it sounds like they were just friends for a while before getting together. In 2006, their fraternal twins were born via surrogate.
Evan Peters and Emma Roberts
This young on-again, off-again couple is currently on, for the time being. American Horror Story co-stars Emma Roberts and Evan Peters first met while filming the movie Adult World in 2012. However, despite playing love interests, they didn’t start dating during the shoot.
As Roberts tells it, she would “try to flirt with him” while Peters “thought she was so weird.” The two began dating shortly thereafter, but have broken up at least twice in the years since. The pair is currently engaged.
Kate Mara and Jamie Bell
Yet another case of co-stars who fell in love on a set. Fantastic Four co-stars Jamie Bell and Kate Mara filmed the 2015 superhero flick together not long after Bell divorced Evan Rachel Wood.
But according to the pair, they didn’t begin dating until after the movie wrapped. That said, Bell did mention that he felt “an instant connection,” with the actress, and “it was obvious very quickly” that they would end up together. The couple married in 2017.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr.
Another tale of two stars who met in their prime, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. have come along way since their teen heartthrob days. But they’re still as cute as ever, and even more so after learning about how they fell in love.
According to Gellar, they met while filming the hit horror flick I Know What You Did Last Summer, and remained friends for years. Then, one night, they “had made plans with a mutual friend and the person canceled.” That was their first date.
They were married in 2002, and have two children together. And though neither is really acting much anymore, we’ll always remember them as another iconic duo: Fred and Daphne in the Scooby-Doo live action films.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
It’s hard to imagine a time when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West weren’t one of the most talked-about celebrity couples on the planet, but we all know it happened. After all, Kardashian’s extremely brief marriage to Kris Humphries has been burned into our brains forever…
West and Kardashian knew each other long before they got together in 2012. Kardashian’s sister Khloe even says that she tried to play matchmaker for years, saying “he’s always been into [Kim] and loved her.” West himself has said as much, telling Ryan Seacrest “I just knew I wanted her to be my girl for a long time.” Despite this, it took a while for these friends to take things to the next level.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
While many of the celebs on this list were co-stars, this case is unique: Jada Pinkett Smith actually auditioned to be on Will Smith’s show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, way back in 1990 — but she didn’t get the part.
However, there’s a little bit of scandal to this story: Pinkett Smith and her now-husband were friends, and then became romantically involved while he was still married to his first wife, Sheree Fletcher. Many years later, Pinkett Smith and Fletcher spoke about this on the actress’s Facebook talk show and were able to hash it out.
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively
This couple consists of two of the hottest working actors in Hollywood, but they haven’t been together all that long. Before they married in 2012, the couple was already acquainted, and their meet-cute is as adorable as it gets.
Here’s how the story goes: The two starred in the DC Comics failure Green Lantern as love interests. However, at the time, they were just friends. In fact, as Ryan Reynolds tells it, they went on a double-date, which was very awkward for their respective partners at the time, as there were “fireworks coming across” the table between Reynolds and Blake Lively, though she tells the story a little differently.
The timeline is a little hard to gauge, but it appears as though they may have fallen for each other during their press tour for the comic book flick in 2011. This was not long after Reynolds had filed for divorce from Scarlett Johansson, and Lively had split from her Gossip Girl co-star Penn Badgley. How often does a rebound lead to a seemingly perfect marriage and two kids? They were clearly written in the stars.