Life imitates art. Shortly after Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder were cast as love interests on The Vampire Diaries, they sparked a real-life romance when the cameras stopped rolling.
The CW hit, which premiered in 2009, starred Dobrev as human Elena Gilbert after she finds herself drawn to vampire brothers Damon Salvatore (Somerhalder) and Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley). The supernatural teen drama featured one of the most famous TV love triangles as Elena had steamy connections with both Salvatore siblings.
Nearly one year after The Vampire Diaries’ debut, Dobrev and Somerhalder were first linked in real life after they were spotted kissing at the Los Angeles airport in March 2010.
“The first time I was on the cover of Seventeen, the cover line said, ‘Nina: Why She Wouldn’t Date Any of Her Costars.’ And then cut to two years later, [I am,]” the Love Hard actress joked during a Seventeen interview in October 2012. “It’s funny that I said that, but you know what? It was honestly what I believed at the time.”
She added: “I didn’t want to be dating one of my costars — my goal on the show was to be professional. But sometimes you can’t help who you have a connection with, and you can only fight it for so long — which I did for a really, really long time.”
Dobrev and the Lost alum’s love story quickly heated up as they frequently showed off PDA during various public appearances and via social media.
“[Ian] always has a positive outlook and positive energy and he’s always happy,” Dobrev exclusively told Us Weekly in 2012. “He is a glass-half-full kind of guy, not half-empty.”
Less than one year later, Us exclusively confirmed that the pair had called it quits. “They are consummate professionals [and] will continue to work together and remain best friends, which is where the relationship started,” the insider added in May 2013.
Weeks later, the pair kept their distance after appearing side-by-side at the CW’s annual Upfronts presentation with their cast mates.
“They flanked [network president Mark Pedowitz] on each side, said ‘hi’ to the audience and walked off stage, leaving Mark to deliver his address to advertisers,” a second source told Us of the run-in. “As they walked off stage, Nina was a stride or two ahead of Ian.”
The pair continued amicably working together on The Vampire Diaries until Dobrev — who also played Elena’s vampire doppelgänger, Katherine Pierce — exited ahead of season 6. (TVD aired its eighth and final season in 2016.)
Us later broke the news in April 2020 that the Degrassi alum had moved on with Olympian Shaun White. Somerhalder, for his part, went on to find love with Twilight star Nikki Reed. The Brother’s Bond Bourbon founder and Reed, who wed in 2015, welcomed daughter Bodhi two years later. They announced in January 2023 that they are expecting their second child.
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Scroll below to revisit Dobrev and Somerhalder’s complete relationship timeline: