With all the reasons we've been given in 2016 to jump to the conclusion that love is dead, it's high time to celebrate a couple who serve as a hopeful reminder that it's blissfully alive.
Luckily for our purposes, today happens to be the one-year anniversary of the confirmation that Blake Shelton was indeed dating Gwen Stefani, the revelation coming just a few days after they gave people plenty to talk about by looking awfully cozy at Adam Levine's Halloween party.
But what did any of that mean at the time? Sure, they were an aesthetically pleasing duo, but there were so many reasons not to get too invested in this pair.
Aside from the convenient fact that they were both coaches on The Voice, thereby venturing into too-good-to-be-true-for-ratings territory, Blake and Gwen were both incredibly newly single.
First, Blake's marriage to Miranda Lambert ended after four years in July 2015, with the super-star country artists having already spent a fair amount of their union warding off split rumors. That was Blake's second marriage and, while no official reason was given aside from the usual irreconcilable differences, both acknowledged later how painful the split was.
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Meanwhile, the end of Gwen's marriage to rocker Gavin Rossdale after 13 years, three kids and even more time as a couple together rattled her world to its core. They each filed for divorce about two weeks after Blake and Miranda's split announcement.
Three months later, Blake and Gwen were a confirmed couple.
So there was the suspicion factor too. Wasn't their proximity at work now looking a little suspect? Maybe they weren't so much a rebound romance as...
Nope. They've certainly kept their stories straight on that one. Gwen has more or less confirmed the rumors that Gavin had been cheating on her, assuring interviewers that "nobody would believe it" if she could really divulge what happened (presumably something in the divorce papers has mandated the exes' respective silence, or else they just don't want Zuma, Kingston and Apollo to be able to Google "mommy tells all" one day).
The No Doubt frontwoman told Cosmopolitan she "went through months and months of torture," which doesn't sound like a woman who put someone else through months and months of torture.
She and Blake have also recalled being in no way looking for a relationship when they pretty much stumbled upon each other at The Voice. As it turned out, they weren't particularly close during Stefani's first season on the show, and it later became clear that both coaches were dealing with enough at home to keep them oblivious to the other's fetching presence at work.
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So back to the more obvious, it-won't-last-it's-a-rebound assumption.
Just a few months after a divorce, Blake's second split and Gwen's breakup coming after a 20-year relationship? They had to just be blowing off some steam...
"I never said nothin' about being in a new relationship," Gwen protested half-heartedly a week after they were outed as a couple, when she was asked about it on the radio.
But that was the last time she didn't embrace her status wholeheartedly.
The weeks started to tick by and, before you could say "used to love you," Gwen was visiting Blake's homestead in Oklahoma, they were getting liberal with the social media PDA and Blake was spending time with Gwen's sons.
We could itemize every date and every sweet glance, but basically these two hit the ground running and refused to slow down.
At the Grammys in February, Gwen debuted the video for the none-too-subtle "Make Me Like You," even naming the bar in the video "Blake's," much to clue-seeking viewers' delight. All the while, anticipation grew for her new album, her first solo effort in 10 years, This Is What the Truth Feels Like.
Oh, right, that had to be it. She and Blake were hanging in there, Twilight-style, for the fans, to sell records. Hey, so long as they were having a good time, right? It just still didn't seem possible that two people, fresh from painful divorces, had rebounded smack into a mutually devoted, picture-perfect, drama-free relationship.
It was around then, while doing press for the album, that Gwen started really opening up about her divorce and her new romance.
"I'm not going to say I'm not still picking up the pieces and every day isn't a challenge," she told The New York Times in March. "I'm still in shock. But it's an awesome time."
Now that seemed real, that peek behind the curtain that proved Gwen wasn't magically healed from the trauma she went through, no matter how happy she and Blake looked. And it was then you started to be relieved that she had found someone who, as she put it herself, "had been going through literally the exact same thing in literally the exact same time frame."
But that didn't exactly quell the concerns that it was all just too much, too soon—and to what end?
Then came the news that Blake's upcoming confessional album, If I'm Honest, would boast a duet with Gwen. They teased it with a picture of them standing in front of a tree with "B + G" surrounded by a heart carved into the trunk. Oh, just get a room and stay there, you two.
They of course performed "Go Ahead and Break My Heart" for the first time on The Voice, a moment that will live in real-life-couple-on-TV history. But they make have reached peak cuteness for the moment, because when Gwen told E! News at Wango Tango a few nights later that getting to sing that song with Blake on the show was "a miracle," some social media commenters had had it with the gushing.
(That was no biggie, though. Gwen told Us Weekly a month later that she was their relationship's "biggest fan" and reiterated the whole "miracle" thing.)
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And at the beginning of the summer it was Blake's turn to dissect the magical mystery tour he'd been on with Gwen as he hit the press circuit for If I'm Honest. Which is just what the skeptics had been wondering the whole time...
"I actually wrote that song, started it just to try to impress her, to be honest with you," Blake explained how their duet came about on Today. "And I sent it to her just half done...and she wrote the next verse and sent it back to me. And so it was like, 'oh, we've got a song together. That's kind of cool.'"
He expanded on that with Carson Daly, admitting, "I sat down one day and I started writing this song because she and I were—even though we were, you know, beginning this relationship, we're having some trust issues with each other because of what we had been through, and you kinda get to a point where you're like, 'Man, am I really gonna do this again already,' you know what I mean? But it is happening."
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Maybe it was seeing Blake talk about it in his understated, almost-uncomfortable-yet-going-with-it way that made it more obvious that he isn't the type who'd put on airs or fake his way through a relationship—or even go to the trouble of staying in something any longer than he wanted to, especially after everything he'd been through with Miranda. (He has remained relatively tight-lipped about his marriage, going the "it is what it is" route.)
They went on to perform their song on the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, Gwen eschewing her signature red lip for the occasion in an almost alarmingly au naturel fashion and Blake giving her the kind of look that melted the room.
Recalling when he told Gwen that his marriage was over, Blake told Billboard, "I thought it was going to be another one of those 'things are going to be OK' talks. She said, 'I'm going through something very similar to what you're going through. I understand. And I hate it.'"
"That's kind of how our friendship and bond started, that day," he continued. "It went from that, to checking in on each other once a week through email—'This s--t happened to me, what happened to you?'—to maybe three times a week, then every day, to 'Hey, here's my phone number if you ever want to text.' Next thing I know, I wake up and she's all I care about, and I'm wondering if she feels the same about me."
He was already working on what would becoming If I'm Honest, "but as I was making the record, other developments were happening," he also told Rolling Stone. "I was spending some time with Gwen all of a sudden, and she became my closest ally, my friend, my person in my life who had my back, and I had hers. And I created this bond with somebody that I never would have thought in a million years."
Well, that's what it looked like, but who would've believed it?
Now here we are, a year since they confirmed that their rather close-looking work relationship was in fact more than that. They've been back and forth between L.A. and Oklahoma, they've been spotted house-hunting, they've performed for the president together and, even though they haven't said anything publicly about getting engaged, there are reports of wedding plans being in the works.
"Before I make plans, because I make plans way ahead of time, tell me when you're getting married because I need to know. I just need to know so I can clear the schedule," Ellen DeGeneres needled Gwen in September. "
"Oh you're crazy," Gwen chided back. "OK, I'll let you know." That was it, of course.
But these two lovebirds have played coy before. And we know how it turned out then.