Love was in the air as 2021 saw some iconic couples get back together (Bennifer 2.0!) and a few unexpected pairings (Adele and Paul Rich! Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley!). Here are the biggest celebrity romances of the year. — by David Artavia, Suzy Byrne, Kaitlin Reilly, Taryn Ryder, Raechal Shewfelt and Megan Sims
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez
It was the coupling heard around the world when the superstars got back together — 17 years after calling off their engagement. The "Jenny From the Block" singer rekindled her romance with Affleck after ending her engagement to Alex Rodriguez. Affleck had recently split from actress Ana de Armas. Bennifer 2.0 took their love on tour this year, showing PDA everywhere from France to Italy and, of course, Malibu. "It is a good story. It's a great story," the actor teased of how he and Lopez reconnected. He's keeping details to himself... for now.
Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian
It was revealed in January the longtime friends decided to take their relationship to the next level. Barker and Kardashian are not shy about showing off their love, hamming it up for social media and paparazzi — much to the dismay of her ex, Scott Disick. The Blink-182 drummer, who nearly died in a 2008 plane crash, overcame his fear of flying thanks to the reality star. "I'm invincible when I'm with her," he declared. Barker popped the question to the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star in October.
Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley
One of the most surprising pairings to come out of the coronavirus pandemic was Rodgers and Woodley. Days after it was reported the stars were dating, the Green Bay Packers quarterback surprised fans by announcing their engagement. Apparently, Rodgers and the Big Little Lies star were engaged for "months and months" before going public in February. "The reaction to it was really a lot, and so we were like, 'Let's just politely decline [to talk about the relationship] for a little while and live in our little bubble,'" Woodley recalled. They have kept a low-profile during the football season, although the actress publicly stood by her man during his COVID-19 debacle.
Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde
Wilde made headlines when she replaced Shia LaBeouf with Styles as the leading man in her upcoming film Don’t Worry Darling, but fans’ heads really exploded when it was revealed that she and the “Kiwi” singer were more than just co-workers. Wilde was spotted out with the former One Direction star in January 2021, just months after news broke that she and Ted Lasso actor Jason Sudeikis had called it quits after a decade together. Now months into their romance, Wilde and Styles appear closer than ever. This summer the two were spotted making out on a boat in Italy, while the House alum also supported Styles at the September opening of his stadium tour.
Zoë Kravitz and Channing Tatum
Kravitz and Tatum were first seen looking cozy in 2021, months after Kravitz filed for divorce from Karl Glusman, her husband of less than two years, and more than a year after Tatum ended his on-again, off-again romance with singer Jessie J. The two really raised eyebrows when Kravitz was spotted hanging onto Tatum’s back during a BMX bike ride through NYC in August. The couple, who are working together on Kravitz’s directorial debut Pussy Island, were also seen leaving the Met Gala together in September, though they did not walk the red carpet side by side.
John Mulaney and Olivia Munn
Munn and Mulaney began dating shortly after the comedian's completed rehab stint. "She got to date me right out of recovery, which is what they call a reverse catch," he joked in September, revealing they are expecting their first child together. Munn's pregnancy came as the comic tried to finalize his divorce from Anna Marie Tendler. Although neither star has spoken about how they got together, Munn called out the "false narrative" surrounding their relationship. "For whatever reason, it's easier to blame me," she told the Los Angeles Times, "If I try to say anything, I run the risk of being called messy or not telling the truth. The only way to win, for me, is to pull back and to not play the game at all." Munn and Mulaney reportedly welcomed their child in November.
Adele and Rich Paul
The singer just might release an uncharacteristically upbeat album in the near future, as she's been super happy with the sports agent since they were first spotted together in July attending an NBA finals game with one of Paul's clients, superstar LeBron James. (Although they had been "hanging out" for months, according to the New Yorker.) Their romance followed the "Easy on Me" singer's divorce from Simon Konecki, which was finalized in March. And Adele certainly seems smitten. "He's just hilarious," she gushed about Paul in a November interview with Oprah Winfrey. "Oh, he's so funny, he's hilarious, yeah. And very smart. You know, he's very, very smart. It's quite incredible watching him do what he does."
Chelsea Handler and Jo Koy
There’s nothing like seeing two comedians in love. In the case of Handler and Koy, it was certainly a long time coming — 20 years in fact! The two first met on the set of Chelsea Lately, Handler’s popular talk show that ran on E! from 2007 to 2014. Though Koy was a frequent guest, the sparks weren't quite there yet. During that time, Handler dated a range of men including former Comcast CEO Ted Harbert, rapper 50 Cent and hotelier Andre Balazs, and it wasn’t until June 2021 that rumors began to swirl that she and Koy were shacking it up. Then, in September, the comedians decided to become Instagram official and the two haven’t looked back. “Jo has renewed my faith in men,” she wrote on the social media platform in November, telling her single fans to “be patient and never settle for anything less than you deserve.”
Ant Anstead and Renée Zellweger
Less than a year after splitting from Christina Haack, Anstead made headlines in June when multiple outlets reported his romance with Zellweger. The duo had met previously while filming an episode of Anstead’s Discovery+ series, Celebrity IOU Joyride that same month. They apparently made such an impression on each other that one month later, on the 4th of July, they were caught kissing on their bikes at a traffic light. (How romantic!) They eventually became Instagram official in September before making their red carpet debut that same month. Throughout the year, Zellweger and Anstead have been posting adorable photos with Anstead’s son Hudson, 2, while praising each other whenever they can. As of last month, it's been reported that Zellweger rented a 5-bedroom house across the street from Anstead’s home, so their romance is about to get even more serious in 2022.
Lena Dunham and Luis Felber
In September, the stars quietly tied the knot at an intimate ceremony after only having confirmed their relationship in April. Prior to that, the pair had been able to keep their blossoming romance out of the press, but once they went public, Dunham could not stop gushing about the English Peruvian musician saying, “I feel really lucky. He’s the greatest person I’ve ever met.”
Rita Ora and Taika Waititi
The stars went public about their relationship in July after showing up at an Australian event together. The pair made headlines in May after photos of a serious PDA session between them and actress Tessa Thompson went viral. Thompson would later be spotted kissing model Zac Stenmark. Waititi has since opened up about the photos saying, "I think in the world of the internet, everything goes away pretty quick. And also, ‘Is it that big a deal?’ No, not really. I was doing nothing wrong. It’s fine.”
Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian
Goodbye, KimYe. Hello, KimPe? In February, Kardashian filed for divorce from Kanye West after six years of marriage. The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star, who had been living apart from the rapper, quickly got her groove back. While hosting a memorable Saturday Night Live in October, she made out with cast member Davidson for a sketch. Acting wasn't involved two weeks later when they held hands on a ride at Knott's Berry Farm in L.A. It was clear the shapewear designer and mom of four really liked Davidson, 13 years her junior, when she visited him in his home borough of Staten Island. She then hosted a birthday get-together for the comedic actor at her mom's Palm Springs pad, inviting his favorite celebrity Flava Flav. We can't imagine this is a long-term thing, but for now she seems to be enjoying his "BDE" like many other celebrity ladies before her, from Ariana Grande to Kate Beckinsale. If only Ye got the memo. A sideshow to this hot new romance, is the rapper trying to win her back.
Video courtesy NBCUniversal/Access Hollywood