Inside Julianne Hough's Relationship History

In the '00s, Julianne Hough burst onto the scene thanks to her gig as a pro on "Dancing with the Stars." And her star has only continued to dance on. (Now, it is worth noting that it wasn't her first gig in Hollywood: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it type part, she was an extra in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in 2001.) In addition to working on the hit reality competition dance show, Hough has starred in a number of movies, including the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' "Safe Haven," released a country music album, appeared on several TV series, launched her own activewear line, and started her own fitness program called Kinrgy.

Despite being married once, and having been in a long-term relationship with the veritable king of Hollywood, her love life tends to somewhat fly under the radar — an unusual thing for a celebrity of her status. So today, we're taking a closer look at Hough's dating history. From her childhood crush to her rumored current beau, read on for a detailed breakdown of the "Dancing with the Stars" alum's relationship timeline.

Julianne Hough's childhood crush turned fiance

Per Cosmopolitan, Utah-born Julianne Hough is a third-generation dancer who was raised in a Mormon family. Thanks to the world of dance, she would cross paths with Zach Wilson, a fellow dancer who also grew up in the Mormon church. As she shared with Glamour, they met when she was still in elementary school, and some years later, sparks flew. 

By 2007, Hough, who was 18 years old at the time, was engaged to Wilson. They originally planned to get married in August of that year, but at the beginning of May announced they were postponing their date. Hough told People they "just want[ed] more time before [they] get married." However, a few months later the whole thing was called off.

We haven't heard much out of Hough's former fiancé in the years since. In 2008, he had a brief stint on ABC's reality series "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann," but other than that, has essentially disappeared from the spotlight. At the time, he told Deseret News his turn on the show was his "last shot" to make it before he enrolled in dental school, so it's likely he's just settled down into a quieter, more traditional life away from the bright lights of Hollywood. However, he didn't drop out of Hough's orbit. As she told Glamour, "[H]e ended up marrying my childhood best friend, and now they have a kid together."

A country song come to life

It didn't take long for Julianne Hough to move on with country singer Chuck Wicks. According to Wicks, who discussed the relationship on an episode of his podcast "Talk to Chuck," the couple met while on tour with Brad Paisley in 2008. At the time, Wicks said they "were loving life." Hough reiterated his sentiments, telling People, "The minute we met it was perfect. The first date we had we both had that feeling like we were going to fall in love with each other." Things between them got more serious after they were partnered on Season 8 of "Dancing with the Stars" in 2009, and three months after the show wrapped, the couple bought a house together.

To the outsider, it seemed that Hough and Wicks were on the road to engagement. So it shocked everyone when the country crooner and ballroom dancer called it quits in November 2009. At the time, a source told People, "This was mutual. They needed some time apart." However, on the same episode of the aforementioned podcast, Wicks suggested things took an abrupt turn and maybe wasn't so mutual: "Then out of nowhere, you find out that they're not the person that you thought they were, and you break up. ... S*** hit the fan, I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus, but it wasn't my fault." Yeesh.

From country to comedy

Just a few months after her acrimonious split from Chuck Wicks, Julianne Hough was spotted out and about with comedian Dane Cook. While they never made any official declarations about whatever their deal might've been, they sure seemed to enjoy each other's company for a few months in 2010. People reported that Hough had been spotted at one of Cook's shows at Hollywood's Laugh Factory and at dinner with him at Katsuya. According to one onlooker, the couple "looked very happy together, and very affectionate." Days later, the duo was spotted again leaving a Hollywood-area hotel. Again, Cook and Hough declined to comment on the status of their relationship, but given how quickly they stopped hanging out, it seems safe to assume things couldn't have been all that serious between them.

It wasn't the first time Hough was linked to someone following her split with Wicks. Right before she was connected to Cook, she hung out with Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill. Shortly after things with Wick ended, eagle-eyed fans spotted the dancer on a night out with the musician, who she acted "very affectionate" towards. A rep for the rocker sort of confirmed something was going on, telling People that the two "are friends and have been hanging." As with Cook, it seems that the supposed relationship never really got off the ground, given how short-lived these Hough-Followill sightings were.

The king of Hollywood and the dancing princess

Despite declarations that she wanted to be single and was just focused on having fun, it only took five months after her split with Chuck Wicks for her to wind up in another serious relationship. In 2010, Julianne Hough struck up a romance with "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest. Hough told Glamour that the relationship had been a long time coming — a mutual friend had wanted to set the pair up on a date when she first moved to Los Angeles, and they'd run into each other (and felt some serious chemistry) a handful of times in the intervening years. The couple's "very similar" personalities kept them in sync for a little over two years before "busy work schedules" ultimately drove them apart by 2013. According to one source who spoke to People, the couple, who had been living together, were "still in regular contact and remain friends" following their quiet split.

For once, it seems like this may actually be the truth, not just a reputation-saving, Hollywood fabrication. In 2022, the exes came face-to-face when Seacrest interviewed Hough on his radio show "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest." Seacrest acknowledged that a conversation between former paramours had the potential to be "awkward," but that wouldn't be the case for this duo. "There is nothing uncomfortable about it because we remained friends for years and still are," he said. Hough agreed, sharing that they still "chat" and have "respect" and "love" for each other.

Julianne Hough's reported rebound

After ending things with Ryan Seacrest, Julianne Hough rebounded with Academy Award-winning director Ari Sandel. Once again, it's unclear how the couple met, but if we go by the paparazzi sightings, it looks like they spent at least a month together. In July 2013, they were first spotted by TMZ enjoying dinner, and getting physical, at a Nobu restaurant in Malibu. A couple of weeks later, on Hough's birthday, the Daily Mail shared a photo of Sandel apparently leaving the dancer's "house early that morning" to go "to a florists to place an order." The outlet also shared a photo of Hough receiving a bouquet of roses that same day. Then in August, the HuffPost published pictures of the loved-up duo enjoying a night out at the famous Chateau Marmont.

Reps for the couple never actually confirmed that the two officially dated, but based on the pictures it seems safe to say that they were certainly feeling some kind of connection. This apparent pairing seemingly burned bright and fast, and whatever happened seemingly ended shortly after they were first photographed together. 

Julianne Hough's first walk down the aisle

Per Cosmopolitan, actor Teddy Sears introduced Julianne Hough to her next partner, former hockey player Brooks Laich. At the time, Laich was in Washington D.C. and Hough was in Los Angeles, but that didn't stop the two from getting to know one another. "We talked on the phone and FaceTimed for two months before we physically met each other," Laich told E! News. And thanks to these chats, they formed such a strong bond that they both believed they were in it for the long haul. Hough told E! News, "We kind of knew it was going to happen." A year and a half after they met, the couple was engaged.

In July 2017, Hough and Laich got married. Things were great between them for a while, and as Laich told Us Weekly, they began an IVF journey. In 2019, Hough shared with Women's Health that she felt safe enough to come out as "not straight" to her husband. Laich, inspired by his wife's newfound vulnerability, even began "exploring [his] sexuality," per People. But by January 2020, rumors began to swirl, and when the couple quarantined separately during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, these whispers seemed to be confirmed. In May 2020, Laich and Hough announced their separation to People, with sources telling the tabloid the split came down to the fact that both parties had changed tremendously over the years.

She reportedly looked 'very flirty' with Ben Barnes

Many speculated that there was another reason Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich split — or more specifically, another man. In April 2020, a full month before the married couple announced their separation, the Daily Mail reported Hough was spotted on a walk in Los Angeles with fellow actor Ben Barnes. Now, we're not saying that hanging out with a member of the opposite sex definitely means that there is something romantic going on, but given a few of the surrounding circumstances, it does seem quite possible that these two could have been more than friends.

For starters, the pair's hangouts were described by onlookers to E! News as "very flirty." Then there's the fact that an insider told Us Weekly that Hough "had been spending a lot of time with Barnes and had been leaning on him" amidst her split with Laich. The unnamed source continued, "She told Laich it was nothing [between her and Barnes]. But it's not." Still, we can't be quite sure that they were romantically involved, as another source told People, "They have been friends for eight years. There is nothing more to it." So maybe just chalk this one up to a flirtatious friendship and leave it at that.

Has Julianne Hough found her match?

Julianne Hough's most recent love interest, as of this writing, is model Charlie Wilson. Per Us Weekly, the pair were first spotted getting cozy near the end of 2021 when paparazzi captured them canoodling on a street corner. According to In Touch, the couple may have met through Kingry, Hough's fitness and wellness platform. Shortly after they made their public debut, a source told People, "Julianne has not been dating Charlie Wilson very long but seems happy and enjoying her single life. She is attracted to him, but it's early and could just be a flirtation."

Another source reiterated the sentiment to In Touch: "They're a match made in heaven because he's a bit of a hippy, like her, and they both get each other's quirkiness. They haven't been dating long." It seems only time will tell if this will turn into something long-term and serious, or whether it will be just another causal situationship that will burn out of its own volition. Either way, we hope it works out for the "Dancing with the Stars" pro.