From Zendaya and Tom Holland confirming their off-screen romance to the breakdown of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s marriage, Saman Javed charts this year’s brightest beginnings and saddest endings
It’s been a great year for those who fill their cups with the latest happenings in their favourite celebrity’s lives. Following a brief interlude during the pandemic, the stars have been back to their usual antics in 2021 and we, for one, have loved to see it.
Over the course of the past year, we’ve witnessed the reprisal of the celebrity PDA – mostly thanks to Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s incessant need to document their every kiss — the reunion of Bennifer, sealed with a Covid-era appropriate masked kiss at the Met Gala, and even a throwback to the giddiness of our high-school relationships as Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox recently debuted matching manicures.
But 2021 also brought the end of some of our most-loved celebrity pairings. Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from Kanye West in February, ending the couple’s almost decade-long relationship, while rappers Saweetie and Quavo engaged in a very public exchange of words on Twitter after she suggested that he had been unfaithful.
And if 2021 taught us anything it’s that anything is possible, especially when it comes to love. Selling Sunset star Chrishell Stause rocked the internet when she confirmed her romantic feelings for her boss, Jason Oppenheim — and again when she announced their breakup five months later. Separately, Pete Davidson’s rumoured relationship with Kardashian has sparked endless questions about his enduring appeal.
Here’s a look back at all the highs and lows of celebrity romance in 2021.
The couples who called it quits
Zoe Kravitz and Karl Glusman
Kravitz and Glusman called time on their relationship after five years of dating and 18 months of marriage.
News of their divorce was first reported by People on 2 January. Shortly afterwards, Kravitz shared a cryptic meme to her Instagram stories showing a person throwing away a black bin bag.
“People, places and things that no longer serve my greatest and highest good,” the text on the bin bag said. Kravitz captioned the post, writing “mood”. The divorce was finalised by a New York court in August.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
If there was ever a celebrity breakup to send shockwaves through the internet, it was that of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
The couple won the hearts of fans early on; from the rapper telling Ryan Seacrest that he wanted her to be “[his] girl for a long time” before they started dating in 2011, to a lavish proposal at the AT&T Stadium in San Francisco, and a star-studded wedding in Italy in 2014.
Kardashian filed for divorce on 19 February, calling time on their almost decade-long relationship. In recent weeks, West has repeatedly asked his estranged wife to give their marriage a second chance.
During a performance of “Runaway” at the Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert in Los Angeles on 10 December, West added some new lyrics to his song, asking Kardashian: “I need you to run right back to me, baby, more specifically, Kimberly.”
His attempts to reconcile have been unsuccessful. On Monday 13 December, Kardashian filed court documents requesting to become legally single.
Saweetie and Quavo
Saweetie confirmed she had split from her long-term boyfriend, Migos rapper Quavo, in a post to Twitter on 19 March.
“I’m single. I’ve endured too much betrayal and hurt behind the scenes for a false narrative to be circulating that degrades my character,” she said.
She also implied that Quavo had been unfaithful during their relationship: “Presents don’t band-aid scars and the love isn’t real when the intimacy is given to other women.”
Quavo responded to her statement, writing on his Twitter that Saweetie is “not the woman” he thought she was. Saweetie wrote a short message back: “Take care.”
Bill and Melinda Gates
The world saw another high-profile split in May as billionaire Bill Gates and wife Melinda announced that they had separated after 27 years.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the pair tweeted.
Elon Musk and Grimes
The billionaire founder of Tesla announced in September that he has “semi-separated” from Grimes, who he began dating in 2018.
“We are semi-separated but still love each other, see each other frequently and are on great terms,” Musk said in a statement at the time.
“It’s mostly that my work at SpaceX and Tesla requires me to be primarily in Texas or travelling overseas and her work is primarily in Los Angeles.
“She’s staying with me now and Baby X is in the adjacent room,” he said.
The former couple, who share a one-year-old son named X Æ A-Xii, remain on good terms. In December, Grimes praised Musk on social media after he was named Time’s Person of the Year.
Resharing a picture of the cover to her Twitter, the musician wrote: “And he cut his own hair for this pic too – icon.”
Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez
After months of rumours that their relationship was on the rocks, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez confirmed they had decided to split. In a joint statement to Today, the former couple – who became engaged in March 2019 – said they had realised they are “better as friends”.
Jason Oppenheim and Chrishell Stause
Given the fact that 24 per cent of people meet their spouses at work, it should have been no surprise when Jason Oppenheim and Chrishell Stause – stars of Netflix series Selling Sunset – confirmed their relationship in July.
But it was, not least because Jason is Chrishell’s boss, but also because the last time we saw them on-screen, Chrishell had found out via text that her husband, actor Justin Hartley, had filed for divorce.
Stause confirmed their relationship in a slideshow of photographs posted to her Instagram, one of which showed Oppenheim kissing her neck. “The JLo effect,” she wrote in the caption.
Sadly, the relationship was short-lived, as the pair announced in December that they had broken up. In posts to Instagram, Stause and Oppenheim said their views on family did not align.
“Jason was and is my best friend and other than our ideas for family ultimately not being aligned, the amount of respect and love we have for each other will not change going forward,” Stause wrote.
She added: “Men have the luxury of time that women don’t and that’s just the way it goes.”
The couples who got together
Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde
Photographs obtained by Page Six showed them walking hand-in-hand at Styles’ friend Jeff Azoff’s wedding.
They both arrived wearing full Gucci looks; Wilde was dressed in a tiered floral Bohemian dress from the designer’s resort 2021 collection, while Styles wore a black suit with a scalloped white shirt and pussybow tie.
Wilde has since been spotted dancing in the crowd at Styles’ Love On Top tour and said in an interview with Vogue in December that she’s “happier than ever”.
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez
Almost two decades after they ended their engagement, this year Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez confirmed the news that everyone had been holding out hope for – that Bennifer was back together.
In pictures published by Page Six on 14 June, the pair were seen packing on the PDA while at dinner in Malibu, California with Lopez’ sister.
The news was celebrated by fans on social media. “Nature is healing,” one person wrote of the reunion. “Long live Bennifer,” another said.
Zendaya and Tom Holland
When it comes to celebrity relationships, none are quite as exciting as when an on-screen couple falls for each other in real life – especially when it involves fashion icon Zendaya and Marvel’s latest Spider-Man, Tom Holland.
In July, pictures published by Page Six showed the pair kissing in Los Angeles, the same day they were spotted leaving Zendaya’s mother’s house together.
The pair later became “Instagram official” and made their red carpet debut as a couple.
In an interview with GQ, published last month, Holland said the couple felt “robbed” of their privacy after the paparazzi photos of them kissing were made public.
“One of the downsides of our fame is that privacy isn’t really in our control anymore, and a moment that you think is between two people that love each other very much is now a moment that is shared with the entire world,” Holland said.
Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson
Kim Kardashian has been spotted on numerous dates with comedian and Saturday Night Live alum, Pete Davidson.
In November a video obtained by Mail Online showed the pair briefly holding hands. In the footage, Davidson is sporting pyjama bottoms from Kardashian’s Skims underwear line.
While neither party has confirmed their relationship, Kardashian reportedly introduced her kids to Davidson just before Christmas.
Paul Mescal and Phoebe Bridgers
Normal People‘s Paul Mescal and singer Phoebe Bridgers quietly began their relationship earlier this year after a Twitter exchange between the pair went viral in 2020.
After Normal People was released in May 2020, Bridgers tweeted that the show had left her feeling “sad and horny”. Mescal replied at the time, saying: “I’m officially dead.”
A year and a half since that initial exchange and the pair have since hosted an an Instagram Live together for Wonderland magazine, posed together on a red carpet, and Mescal even appeared in her music video for “Saviour Complex”.
Separately, Mescal discussed his girlfriend during an interview with GQ, who he described as a “lifesaver”.
They recently became Instagram official too. Bridgers posted a photo of the pair, with Mescal leaning in to kiss her head while she beamed at the camera.
The couples who got engaged
Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker
Kourtney Kardashian confirmed her relationship with Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker in February.
Shortly after Valentine’s Day, Kardashian shared a picture of her holding Barker’s tattooed hand to her Instagram.
Following months of endless displays of PDA, Kardashian and Barker informed the world that a lifetime of kissing selfies awaits, as they are engaged.
Barker proposed to the reality TV star on a beach in Montecito, California, which was lavishly decorated with red roses.
Photographs posted to Instagram by Kardashian showed that the flowers had been arranged into the shape of a heart, with the initials “T” and “K” joined in the centre.
Britney Spears and Sam Asghari
On 12 September, Britney Spears announced her engagement to her longtime boyfriend Sam Asghari. The singer posted a video of the pair shortly after the proposal, with a diamond ring on her finger. “I can’t f***ing believe it,” she wrote.
The couple met in 2016 on the set of her music video for “Slumber Party”. In February, Asghari told People that he wants “nothing but the best” for Spears and will “support her following her dreams and creating the future she wants and deserves”.
The couples who got married
Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez
Elsewhere, congratulations were in order for Ariana Grande, who wed real-estate agent Dalton Gomez, in an intimate at-home ceremony on 15 May.
Photographs from the day posted to her Instagram revealed that Grande wore a custom Vera Wang gown inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s character in Funny Face. The singer previously confirmed her engagement to Gomez in December 2020. “Forever n [sic] then some,” she wrote on Instagram under a picture of her ring.
The couples who dominated headlines
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith
When it comes to oversharing about your relationship, no one does it quite like Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. In the past year we’ve heard a few too many details of their sex lives, Smith’s jealousy over his wife’s friendship with late rapper Tupac Shakur, and the pair’s extramarital relationship.
During an interview with Oprah Winfrey in November, Will alluded to the couple being in an “open marriage” which allowed them to see other people. “‘You love in freedom with everybody except your partner,” he told the host in an episode of Apple TV+’s A Conversation With Oprah.
The internet has been told so much about the couple’s personal lives that some have decided they’ve heard too much. Earlier this month, a person named Dexter Morales launched a Change.org petition asking the media to stop interviewing the couple. It has received more than 23,000 signatures.
“Everything I learn about this couple is against my will,” one signatory wrote. Another said: “Not everything has to be public knowledge.”
Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox
Another celebrity couple who made headlines for their PDA-fueled antics throughout the year, Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox recently declared their love for one another through a unique accessory.
The couple arrived at the launch of Kelly’s new genderless nail polish collection, UN/DN LAQR, sporting matching pink manicures, with their pinky fingers linked by a silver chain.
The couple’s matching look was praised by fans, who described it as “goals”.
“If we aren’t going to attach ourselves to each other by our pinky nails like Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox, then I don’t want it,” one Twitter user wrote.