Celebrity relationships have to be infinitely more stressful than regular relationships. Not only do you have to deal with all the typical drama, but you have to do it in front of the paparazzi and under the scrutinizing eye of millions of fans. Then there’s also the insane schedules and frequent physical distance that you have to work around. Which is why many of our favorite stars choose to stay single or only date casually — it’s just easier.
But then there are the relationships that are actually work. These relationships are passed off as genuine connections but are ~really~ not real in the slightest. They’re done for publicity — whether it’s for a mutual project or personal ~image~ reasons — and they usually involve lots of planned PDA, paparazzi shots, and over-the-top social media confessions of love. They’re usually quick and perfectly timed to their purpose, and they often leave us heartbroken, wishing that our favorite stars could have actually loved each other. While we don’t think any famous fauxmances will admit it themselves — these are the top 16 celebrity couples that were almost-certainly just for publicity. Prepare to be heartbroken!
15. Taylor Swift and Harry Styles
Taylor Swift’s relationships always seem to be under the microscope. In particular, her fling with Harry Styles had many fans rolling their eyes. It’s rumored that both of the stars’ teams went to great lengths to connect the two and make sure that they were photographed together in order to capitalize off of the break-up drama. Because anytime T-Swift ends things with a guy, it’s front-page news, and the publicity Harry got from Taylor’s jab at the 2013 BRIT awards was more than enough to boost his relevancy and popularity for months after the two stopped hanging out in Central Park. Fauxmances will never go out of “Style,” will they?
14. Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult
For being such a major celebrity, Jennifer Lawrence’s relationship with X-Men co-star, Nicholas Hoult largely played out under the radar. But this was just before she completely blew up, and this relationship was (probably) just for publicity. The couple got together when filming began on X-men: First Class in 2010, broke up in 2013 during and X-Men shooting lull, and then reunited while filming X-Men: Days of Future Past, only to break up once and for all when filming on that movie wrapped. It seems highly suspicious that all of their on-again-off-again stuff happened during peak publicity points, no?
13. Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper
If you forgot that these two were ever an item, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper met on the set of their movie Case 39, but murmurs about their relationship didn’t begin until almost three years later when the film was set to premiere. We know that sometimes it can take a little while for relationships to blossom, so we won’t fault them for that alone, but it also seems suspicious that they never publically confirmed that they were dating. Sure they were photographed together a lot, and sure they spoke highly of each other in interviews, but that are-they-aren’t-they thing really seemed to drive a lot of interest in an otherwise not-very-great movie.
12. Kaley Cuoco and Henry Cavill
The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco and Henry Cavill, who plays Superman in Man of Steel, might have had the greatest fake relationship of all time. They began to be spotted together in 2013, right when the Superman film was about to hit theaters. Both stars are represented by the same PR agency, and it seems highly probable that it was all just a publicity move. It would have been beneficial for Henry to be tied to one of TV’s top actresses, and Kaley also had something to gain from the attention of non-sitcom fans. It almost would have been believable, too, if it wasn’t for how awkward these two seemed around each other.
11. Selena Gomez and Zedd
File this one under the ‘most awkward celebrity relationships of all time’ category. Selena Gomez and German record producer Zedd dated for a few brief months back in 2015. They were both pretty open about their romantic interest in each other during interviews, and there were a handful of cute Instagram posts that seemed to hint and something more between them. But all the while they were working on their song “I Want You to Know.” Once the song was complete, it didn’t take much time for these two to go their separate ways, which makes us think that this crush was all for the cameras.
10. Nina Dobrev and Derek Hough
Nina Dobrev of The Vampire Diaries and Dancing with the Stars pro Derek Hough dated for a mere SIX weeks before deciding their relationship had “run its course.” We’re not sure a relationship can even find a course in six weeks, which has us calling BS on this one. It all makes sense: Nina is good friends with Julianne Hough, Derek’s sister, and both stars could have used the extra boost in publicity at the time (both being on hiatus from shooting their respective shows). Tying all three names together like that would have done wonders for their careers, even if they could only make it last a few short weeks.
9. Drake and J.Lo
Okay, okay. This one may not technically qualify as a relationship, but there’s no denying that the whole thing was one giant publicity stunt. J.Lo was all set to appear on one of Drake’s songs, and, not at all coincidentally, when production on the song began so did the Instagram posts. Several cuddly, loved-up pictures appeared on both of their individual pages, which caused a huge commotion. After all, two stars with names this big who are possibly dating is something bound to break the internet. However, things didn’t end well for this fake relationship. J.Lo’s part was cut from the song, and the Insta’s came to a sudden (and complete) halt. Oh well, not every fake relationship can be roses and rainbows all the time.
8. Kendall Jenner and Harry Styles
This is one relationship we actually wish could have been real. There’s no denying that these two would have made a cute couple. But, sadly, we’re pretty sure the whole thing is just one giant publicity stunt. Harry Styles and Kendall Jenner were first photographed together in 2013 at dinner, but it wasn’t until they hung out on Ellen DeGeneres’x yacht in St. Barts looking really couple-y that fans really started to take note. Ever since that trip, the paparazzi always seem to find them on their dates. It’s not a bad PR plan for the most low-key Kardashian and the up-and-coming singer who’s still trying to find his niche.
7. Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian
Kendall isn’t the only Kardashian/Jenner out here having a fake relationship. Big brother Rob Kardashian had his own, dramatic phony relationship with Blac Chyna last year. Every single step of their fling was documented on social media, from the initial flirty Snapchats to the dramatic meltdown where Rob blasted his ex and aired the couple’s dirty laundry all over Instagram. We hate to say it, but even the timing of their daughter Dream Kardashian’s birth could be seen as a genius publicity move. It’s clear that there wasn’t a lot of genuine love between these two, and there’s no denying that Blac’s relevance has skyrocketed since her involvement with Rob, but we still find ourselves wishing this one could have been genuine.
6. Nicole Richie and Steve-O
In what’s maybe the most bizarre fake relationship of all time Nicole Richie and Steve-O dated for a hot minute back in 2006. While some fans assumed that it was real — both stars were in a real wild child phase at the time — Steve-O basically crushed all of those dreams when he went on the record saying, “the truth is she wanted some publicity for something other than being skinny. It was a big publicity stunt. She would come pick me up — I don’t drive. I think she called the paparazzi too. These mother effers were coming from all directions.” Color us not surprised.
5. Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston
This one is a little trickier, considering the emotional (and almost believable) interview Tom Hiddleston gave to GQ after his split with Taylor Swift. He seemed genuinely upset about the demise of their relationship, but we still can’t get over the fact that it all seemed perfectly staged. They got serious really, really quickly — they were spotted making out on the beach, she met his mom after just a few short weeks, and then there was the infamous “I (heart) T.S.” tank top he wore to the beach with all of her friends. Everything just seemed a little bit too perfectly timed for us to believe that this one was the real deal, especially because they both had so much to gain from the union. Tom was really on the rise at the moment, and Tay’s career always gets a little boost when she’s dating someone new. So we’re going to have to go ahead and call this one fake, as much as it breaks our hearts a little bit.
4. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson met on the set of Twilight a decade ago, in 2008. They had an iconic romance on screen, and their relationship was the envy of every teen girl in the world. So when whispers began that the two were dating IRL, interest in the Twilight franchise skyrocketed. Their romance was exactly what every fan wanted, and it lasted almost exactly until the final chapter of the saga wrapped in 2012. And once Twilight was all over, these two went their separate ways fast. Kristen was caught cheating on Robert with the director of her next film, and Robert quickly rebounded with FKA Twigs in a relationship that seemed a lot more genuine.
3. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
If you’ve ever spent any time contemplating the bizarre relationship that was Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, then this theory will make a whole lot of sense to you. Since the moment that Tom first jumped on Oprah’s couch, screaming about his love for Dawson’s Creek alumni Katie, rumors have swirled about the nature of their relationship. Some sources allege that Katie actually auditioned for the role of Tom’s next wife, while others say that she was an equal mastermind behind the plot to get both of them a lot more publicity. Either way, almost everyone seems to agree that their quick courtship, four-year marriage, and the birth of their daughter Suri were all carefully planned popularity boosters and that little of what went on between them was actually real. Seems to fit to us.
2. Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron
We’re not here to say that every couple that meets on a film or TV set gets together simply for the sake of publicity, but it does seem that a fair amount of them do. High School Musical co-stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens seem to be no exception. They were on-screen relationship goals for every tween in America, so it makes sense that they would be encouraged to continue their relationship off-screen. After all, the chemistry was clearly there, and it would do a lot to help promote the series. As soon as the third flick premiered and all the promotion for it was over, these two quietly went their separate ways and dramatically changed their images. It breaks our middle school hearts a little bit, but we have to admit that it was a little bit too good to be true.
1. Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid
Dozens of ZiGi conspiracy theories have been making the rounds on Twitter and Tumblr over the last two years since this duo went public. Fans are pretty convinced that the relationship between the former One Direction member, Zayn Malik, and model Gigi Hadid is fake. They make some pretty good points — there seem to be a lot of perfectly timed PDA moments captured by the paparazzi, Gigi wears (and is photographed in) Zayn merchandise an awful lot, and Gigi’s popularity has skyrocketed since the two started dating. Plus, Zayn needed some good press after leaving Directioners in pieces by quitting the band. People have even gone so far as to say that Gigi’s appearance in Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” video was just a paid gig. It seems the general consensus is that these two are together for the mutual benefit of their careers, public image, and nothing more.