The Truth About Penn Badgley And Blake Lively's Relationship

When Gossip Girl premiered on The CW in 2007, it was an instant hit among teens everywhere. Adding to the show's popularity, it was soon revealed that co-stars Penn Badgley (a.k.a. Lonely Boy, a.k.a. Dan Humphrey) and Blake Lively (a.k.a. the Serena van der Woodsen) were dating in real life — just like their characters. Talk about fate, huh?

Of course, as fans now know, things ultimately didn't work out between the pair, who split in 2010. But their love story will forever live on in Gossip Girl history, especially since — very belated spoiler alert — Dan and Serena wind up together at the end of the series. So let's look back at Badgley and Lively's on-screen-turned-off-screen romance, as well as what happened after they called it quits.

Penn Badgley and Blake Lively originally wanted to keep their romance under wraps

While Blake Lively and Penn Badgley started dating in 2007, they tried their best to keep their relationship on the down low — but soon enough, the truth came out. When asked about the romance rumors in early 2008, Lively insisted they were just friends, telling People, "Everybody always tries to dig into your personal life or create things that aren't there... It's silly." And in Vanity Fair's ten-year Gossip Girl anniversary piece, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants alum explained that initial privacy. 

"I remember there was one point where we were just afraid of how our personal lives overlapping our work life could be perceived by our bosses," Lively told the magazine. "[But then] we were like, 'Oh no, that's exactly what they want.' They wanted us all to date... because then it fed their whole narrative. People could buy into this world." She further explained how the two worlds blended together; because she wore the same outfits on set and off, fans wouldn't even be able to tell if paparazzi photos of Lively and Badgley together were from the show or their real-life romance. Still, she clarified to VF, "At the time, what was heightened was, wow, it all looks similar from the outside, but it's so different on the inside." It's unclear exactly what was "so different," but considering they're not their characters IRL, it makes sense.

They kept their breakup a secret at first, too

Not all love stories last forever, and Blake Lively and Penn Badgley's came to an end in 2010. According to E! News, the pair may have drifted apart when promoting separate projects — Badgley was starring alongside Emma Stone in Easy A, while Lively was in The Town with Ben Affleck.

However, they hid their split from the Gossip Girl cast and crew at first. As co-producer and writer Joshua Safran recalled to Vanity Fair, "The shocking thing was, I found out on the set of the Season 2 finale that Blake and Penn had broken up months before... They kept it from everybody which is a testament to how good they are as actors. Because they did not want their personal drama to relate to the show." They really didn't let any personal drama interfere, given that Chase Crawford echoed that sentiment on Watch What Happens Live in August 2019. According to Elle, Crawford described the exes as "the most mature people in the world" during WWHL.

Penn Badgley called Blake Lively his "best" on-screen kiss... and his "worst"

When Penn Badgley appeared on Watch What Happens Live in March 2015, an interesting tidbit about his relationship with Blake Lively came to light. According to Us Weekly, Badgley was asked to rank his on-screen kisses. While the YOU star clarified that on-screen kisses are not "real," Badgley picked Lively for his best kiss, since they "actually had a relationship at the time." However, when it came time to pick the worst, he also said, "Maybe Blake after we broke up."

Ultimately, though, his comments about working together post-breakup reflect what his co-star and producer said. Badgley explained on WWHL, "We were consummately professional. And I think we should both pat ourselves on the back for getting through it... We handled it." Similarly, he opened up about the split in an interview with Elle in 2013. Badgley told the magazine, "We were very much caught up in the show, which itself was a six-year endurance test. Our relationship was a part of that and helped us through it. I mean, like anything valuable, it was good and it was bad and it was a learning experience." He also revealed in that interview that he's written a song for every woman he's dated, but declined to share any lyrics.

These Gossip Girl exes have definitely moved on

Just like how Blake Lively and Penn Badgley's relationship began on set, she and now-husband Ryan Reynolds met on the Green Lantern set in 2010. They started dating in October 2011, per People, citing a source at the time who said, "They are very much a couple. They're really happy together." Lively and Reynolds tied the knot in September 2012, and now they're parents of three.

Lively isn't the only one who's moved on — Badgley is married to Domino Kirke. The pair got hitched (twice) in 2017, and if her last name sounds familiar, it's probably because her sister Jemima Kirke was on HBO's Girls. Domino isn't an actor, though; she works as a doula and a musician. In an Instagram post in December 2019, Badgley gushed over his wife, writing, "For me, it is a joy to witness you when you are happy. For you, I always hope to be a source of joy. I'm really glad we're married."

While Badgley and Lively wound up with other people, there doesn't seem to be any lingering bad blood. Plus, they'll always have one of the most memorable (on-screen) romances in Gossip Girl history.