The Real Reason Nina Dobrev And Ian Somerhalder Broke Up

Few could argue against the fact that actors Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder had great chemistry as Elena Gilbert and Damon Salvatore on the CW drama, The Vampire Diaries. As such, when the pair announced they were dating back in 2011, it wasn't exactly shocking. It even seemed as if their off-screen romance was a driving force behind their on-screen love affair. However, not all Hollywood romances have a happy ending. In 2013, the co-stars-turned-couple called it quits, leaving Vampire Diaries fans stunned.

"Still hurt abt Nina and Ian's breakup tbh," one fan tweeted in 2014 about the split, while someone else wrote in 2018, "It's been 4 Years and I'm only sad and obsessed with Ian and Nina's breakup now." See? We weren't kidding about the whole "stunned" thing, folks.

So, why did Dobrev and Somerhalder break up? Well, it turns out that there were several reasons these TV actors didn't work as a couple.

Ian Somerhalder was jonesing to settle down

While some feel age is no factor when it comes to love, a large age gap could make it difficult for certain couples to stay together long-term. Although Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder looked as though they were close in age, in actuality, Dobrev was 24 and Somerhalder 34 when their three-year relationship came to an end. It's likely the two were at very different places in their lives due to their big age difference, and that can definitely cause waves in a relationship.

Speaking of being in different places, it was more than apparent based on the speed at which Ian Somerhalder moved on that he was more than ready to be a married man. After his 2013 split with Dobrev, Somerhalder started dating actress Nikki Reed. The two confirmed their relationship in 2014, and became engaged after just six months of dating! Somerhalder and Reed tied the knot in 2015, two years before welcoming their daughter.

Inevitably, Nina Dobrev was asked to comment about seeing her ex-boyfriend happily married to someone else, and she had nothing but nice things to say about his "beautiful" wedding to Reed. "They look happy and I am happy and so I don't see why there should be a problem with that," Dobrev told E! News. "The drama is in the media, it's not with us."

Nina Dobrev supposedly wasn't ready for marriage

If Nina Dobrev didn't want to settle down, what was she aiming for instead? "She decided she wanted to experience other things before making a long-term commitment," a source close to Dobrev told Us Weekly. Although it's not clear what these other things were, it sounds like Dobrev was on board with the idea of a long-term relationship with Ian Somerhalder, but she felt things were moving too fast.

As a source reiterated to Life & Style, Dobrev "[was] just not ready to make that huge commitment yet," and might prefer to wait "about 10 years." As the magazine observed, it was highly unlikely Somerhalder wanted to wait until he's 44 to get really serious. Of course, Dobrev's supposed desire to focus on opportunities other than marriage is completely understandable. And instead of getting hitched to Somerhalder, she starred in a few high-profile projects, including xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Flatliners.

Sometimes people grow apart

Even though it's clear Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder really cared about each other, it's also obvious they weren't necessarily on the same page about where their relationship was headed. This was seemingly made evident by Somerhalder, who cryptically tweeted in 2013 (via the Daily Mail), "A thought for today: 'People change and forget to tell each other.' – Lillian Hellman, playwright (1905-1984)."

Did Dobrev initially agree to a long-term relationship, only to eventually decide it wasn't what she really wanted? Years later and the speculation continues, but we do know the two handled the breakup like champs. A source told Us Weekly at the time that then-Vampire Diaries stars would "continue to work together and remain best friends, which is where the relationship started." The insider also referred to the former lovers as "consummate professionals."

Although there might have been some hurt feelings here, it sounds like they were able to put aside whatever angst might have existed for the greater good.

They were in different places in their careers

One of the reasons Ian Somerhalder was supposedly ready to tie the knot could have been because he felt comfortable about where his life and career were at that moment, which makes sense as Somerhalder's resume stretches back to the late 1990s. Meanwhile, Nina Dobrev's acting career — which began about a decade later — only really began to blossom at the time of their union. So, with Dobrev looking to expand on her fame and take more opportunities, she likely wasn't ready to put her acting career on the back-burner to pursue romance.

What's more? It seems like they had different career goals overall. Somerhalder, for instance, hasn't appeared in many on-screen projects post-breakup, preferring to pursue off-screen opportunities like the production company he co-owns with Nikki Reed, Rare Birds Productions. And in 2016, the company inked a deal with Warner Bros. Television, aiming to produce non-scripted and scripted shows for the network, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As for Dobrev, she still has acting bug, most recently starring in a CBS comedy called Fam.

We can't say for certain, but it's possible the exes' different dreams led them to splitsville.

It was too tough dating a co-worker

It's actually fairly common for people to meet through work and fall in love. In fact, Mic revealed that 17 percent of the respondents to their survey met their significant other at a job. However, it's worth noting that relationships between co-workers can be a tricky situation. And because Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev were trying to balance romance and work, it's possible these factors strained their relationship a bit.

No one knows this better than Dobrev, who admitted dating a co-worker was something she had initially been trying to avoid. "I think it could definitely get sticky if you dated your costar," she said in an interview with Seventeen (via MTV News) in 2010, just one year before her relationship with Somerhalder was revealed. "To be completely honest, dating an actor is very complicated. There's a lot of vanity involved. And they're in their head, and they're kind of crazy. And you're always surrounded by beautiful people. I would prefer not to date an actor."

Fair enough. 

Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder work better as friends

Unlike a lot of high-profile relationships that hit the skids, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder managed to end their three-year relationship amicably, with the two maintaining a friendship after breaking up. How is that possible? 

As Dobrev explained to E! News in 2015, "If you're with someone for [three years], obviously, there's the qualities in them that you enjoy, and it doesn't change because you're not together anymore. I have an enormous amount of respect and love for [Ian]. It doesn't change. It shouldn't. Otherwise, why were you with them?" She also shared in an interview with E! News that May that they were friends "long before" they dated and that their friendship continued post-breakup. Making matters even more impressive, E! News spoke with sources who supposedly worked on The Vampire Diaries, who claimed there was no backstage bickering or "awkwardness" when the breakup happened, and that the pair remained "professionals" and "supportive."

If you need further evidence that they're still on great terms, look no further than their shared People's Choice Award for "Favorite On-Screen Chemistry." In the acceptance speech video, you can see Somerhalder joking about the moment, declaring it to be "five years in the making." Dobrev also observed that their characters went from hating to loving each other, so it's nice to see that the opposite didn't happen with the characters' real-life counterparts.

These two are 'breakup goals'

If you're wondering how Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder managed to stay on good terms, part of it might be due to Dobrev's personal philosophy. "I try to be good to everyone, whether it's a love, a friend, an ex. I'll always try to treat people the way I want to be treated," she shared in 2014 with Nylon. Whether it's wishing an ex-boyfriend happiness in his new marriage or hanging out with Somerhalder and Nikki Reed, it's clear Dobrev is intent on taking the high road.

Speaking of Dobrev's meetups with Somerhalder and Reed, the trio grabbed dinner in 2017, with both ladies sharing messages about the experience. "So here's to putting an end to all those fake stories of on set jealousy, betrayal, made-up-friendships lost & women hating women," Reed commented about the years of allegations surrounding the group's supposed feelings toward one another.

As Reed and Somerhalder demonstrate, not every Hollywood romance has to end terribly. Sometimes, people learn and grow from relationships and just move on. This certainly seems to be the case for the former Vampire Diaries cast-mates, and we wish them the best!

Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder reunited on TV

If you think Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev have been blowing smoke about how chill they are about their breakup, we present you with this evidence: Dobrev reprising her role as Elena Gilbert for The Vampire Diaries finale in 2017. In the episode, titled "I Was Feeling Epic," Elena and her ongoing love interest, Damon [Somerhalder], "got to live happily ever after," as USA Today noted.

"I think the show had a satisfying, awesome [end]," Dobrev revealed in January 2019 during an appearance on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live. "For me it was great, because I got to go back and be a part of the finale and say goodbye and pay homage to characters."

Dobrev's return to the show proves these two exes can make it work when necessary and would do anything for their dedicated fans. The same can't be said for every former celeb pairing, so way to go, guys.

Were fans too much for Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder?

It's no secret fans of The Vampire Diaries were passionate, especially where it concerned the romance between Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder's characters, Elena Gilbert and Damon Salvatore. Known as "Delena" fans, the fandom rooted for Elena and Damon for the duration of the series, with their enthusiasm growing when Dobrev and Somerhalder got together in real life. 

Although there's nothing wrong with shipping a celeb couple, perhaps the fandom put too much pressure on the pair, making their relationship more work than fun. Our suspicion rests on what Somerhalder had to say about Delena fans in September 2019 at a panel celebrating the 10th anniversary of the series' premiere, during which he talked about the popular ship. "Delena fans were actually really problematic," he explained. "Yeah, they were mean to like my family and me, and it just got really weird for a little while. I shipped Elena and Damon like crazy until the ship just got negative." Yikes.

What's even more interesting? Due to the negativity, Somerhalder ended up shipping Elena Gilbert with Stefan Salvatore (played by Paul Wesley) in the end. "So I love Stelena. Stelena was fun," he revealed. "Stelena fans are like super cool."

These exes don't care about public opinion

We can't say for certain, but Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder don't seem like the type of people who stay in an unhappy relationship just to save face. So we're going to go out on a limb here and say it's possible they're breakup was motivated by their IDGAF attitudes, as Dobrev demonstrated during a January 2019 appearance on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live

It all started when a fan called into the show, asking whether the actor finds it "weird" that she's close with both Somerhalder and his wife, Nikki Reed. "I don't think that's weird at all," Dobrev replied. "That's great. Why can't everyone be friends? I think that they have a beautiful baby. And they are happy — and so am I ... What's bad about that? I don't see any problem with that."

Clearly, if Dobrev doesn't care what fans think about her so-called modern friendship, then we don't think she'd hesitate to break up with Somerhalder to keep the fandom happy — and vice versa. The moral of the story here? Both Somerhalder and Dobrev march to the beat of their own drums, as they should.