The Truth About Julianne Hough And Ben Barnes

After splitting with husband Brooks Laich in May 2020, Julianne Hough filed for divorce a few months later in November. The Dancing with the Stars alum is a single woman — but that also means anyone she's spotted with may spark romance speculation. After being photographed together in April 2020, Hough and Ben Barnes are continuing to be the subject of dating rumors.

In the new January 2021 paparazzi photos, published by E! News on Jan. 29, the Westworld actor and Hough are wearing similar black masks, walking casually in Los Angeles while dressed in athletic clothing. At one point, the duo stopped for ice cream cones. In one photo, Hough and Barnes can be seen slightly removing the masks in order to take a bit of their respective sweet treats. Throughout the images, Barnes and Hough are all smiles and seem to be having a great time together.

Naturally, these photos sparked rumors that Hough and Barnes are dating, but is that really the case? Read on for what's really going on between the Dancing with the Stars alum and the Westworld actor.

Julianne Hough and Ben Barnes may be just friends

On Jan. 30, 2021, People debunked any romance rumors that arose from Julianne Hough and Ben Barnes' casual walk and ice cream stop on Jan. 29. An unnamed source told the magazine, "They have been friends for eight years. There is nothing more to it." Still, since the information is coming from an unknown source, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Hough and Barnes' reps didn't return People's request for comment. However, People also pointed out that Hough and Barnes' friendship has been photographed over the years. In addition to being photographed on another walk in April 2020, Hough and Barnes took a photo together at the 2016 Emmy Awards — and People published the image. So it sounds like there's truth to the report that the two are longtime friends.

After Hough and Barnes were spotted together in April 2020, another unnamed source told Us Weekly in June of that year that the Dancing with the Stars alum was spending a lot of time with Barnes amid her split from Brooks Laich. The source said she "has been leaning on him. She told Brooks it was nothing [between her and Ben], but it's not."

It sounds like the only people who truly know what's going on between Hough and Barnes are the stars themselves.