Inside Vanessa Hudgens And Austin Butler's Relationship

Austin Butler and Vanessa Hudgens were one of the most prominent celebrity couples of the 2010s. The pair's relationship lasted far longer than most young Hollywood pairings, so it eventually seemed as though they were destined to spend the rest of their lives together. You might remember seeing the lovebirds grace red carpets together, seemingly unafraid to display their affection for one another. The duo, who first got together in 2011, also wasn't shy about sharing inside looks at their relationship on social media. So, many fans were likely shocked to hear the news of Butler and Hudgens' breakup in January 2020.

Unfortunately for those curious, neither Butler nor Hudgens has since come forward to speak directly about the cause of the split, as of this writing. They did, however, frequently gush about one another while they were still together. During a 2019 interview with E! News, for example, Butler shared, "It's hard for me to even put into words what that girl means to me. I am so inspired by her every day and I just love her to my core." Hudgens seemingly confirmed she felt the same way the previous year when she opened up to ET about her actor boyfriend's constant support. 

Yes, it appeared as though these two were head over heels for each other, so why did they call it quits? We might have some answers for you. Keep reading to take a look inside Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler's relationship.

They first met on the set of High School Musical

"High School Musical" fans well know that Vanessa Hudgens' relationship with Austin Butler wasn't her first highly publicized romance. The "Spring Breakers" star's relationship with Zac Efron was arguably even more talked about, largely due to their characters' onscreen fling in the Disney Channel trilogy. Although Butler didn't come into the picture romantically until Hudgens and Efron's five-year-long relationship ended, he actually met the Disney star on the set of the first "HSM" flick in 2005, per the Daily Mail.

Butler didn't get any screen time in the beloved musical movie, but he later starred in "Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure" alongside Hudgens' pal and former "HSM" co-star, Ashley Tisdale. The 2011 spin-off flick follows "HSM" character Sharpay Evans as she tries to pursue a career in theatre in New York, so although Butler didn't share the screen with his soon-to-be girlfriend, he was still involved in the franchise that launched her career. This could explain why Hudgens and Butler lasted for so long — they already had a long history together prior to their relationship. 

Butler and Tisdale, who'd previously starred in 2009's ill-fated movie "Aliens in the Attic" together, were already besties by the time "Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure" rolled in — and the mother-of-one was thrilled about her two close friends dating. Speaking about their blossoming romance during a 2016 interview with People, Tisdale said, "I mean, it's great because Austin was my best friend since way before they got together, so it's just nice to have your two best friends be in a relationship."

Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler worked through grief together

Sadly, Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler both endured the loss of a parent during their relationship together. In September 2014, Butler's mother died of cancer, per Us Weekly. The actor took to Twitter to share the heartbreaking news, writing in a now-deleted post, "Lori Butler, my mom, my hero, & my best friend passed away this morning. Lets all celebrate her. I love you and will miss you every day Mom." Hudgens made it clear that she was there for her boyfriend during this difficult time by retweeting his message and adding, "I miss you already mama."

Hudgens would later experience the same tragedy when her father died of cancer in January 2016. Just before she was set to perform in Fox's "Grease: Live," the star shared news of the loss on Twitter: "I am so sad to say that last night my daddy, Greg passed away from stage 4 cancer. Thank you to everyone who kept him in your prayers." Hudgens went on to perform as Rizzo in the live televised production the following night, famously giving a showstopping performance with "There are Worst Things I Could Do."

For his part, Butler was there to support Hudgens during every step of the emotionally heavy process. In addition to attending a run-through for "Grease: Live," he also watched Hudgens from the audience during the actual performance, per Bustle. Butler cheered his girlfriend on by live-tweeting compliments throughout the show, writing in one (relatable) since-deleted post (via E! News), "WOW @VanessaHudgens singing 'Worst Things' had me in tears."

The actors were each other's biggest supporters

Both Austin Butler and Vanessa Hudgens made a name for themselves in Hollywood after starting out as teen stars. With each actor snagging notable roles and reaching career milestones throughout their relationship, they weren't shy about supporting one other along the way. When Butler was first cast as Elvis Presley in the 2022 Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic "Elvis," Hudgens took to Instagram to express her excitement. Sharing a screenshot of a Deadline article that confirmed the news back in 2019, she wrote in all caps alongside a handful of heart-eyes emojis, "SO PROUD OF MY HONEYYYYY!!!"

As previously mentioned, Butler was also known to take to social media to praise Hudgens' work. During a 2018 interview with ET, the "Princess Switch" star opened up about her then-boyfriend's encouragement, sharing, "He's a wonderful supporter, though, I'm happy to have him here." Noting how important his ongoing support meant to her, Hudgens added, "I think it's so important to have a person who is your rock."

Butler had previously proven just how caring he was during his own 2015 interview with ET. When asked about how he and Hudgens had remained solid for so long, he explained: "If you're constantly looking for ways that you can make them happy, and they're constantly looking for ways that they can make you happy, then you kind of lift each other up as much as possible and you can't go wrong." At this point, it's perhaps no surprise that fans couldn't get enough of this sweet, long-term couple.

Did Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler plan to get married?

Hollywood couples often spark engagement rumors by simply being seen together — and considering how Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler spent nine years swooning over each other, they, of course, couldn't escape this speculation. However, the "High School Musical" alum finally put the engagement rumors to rest when she gave fans a peek into her future with Butler during an interview for Women's Health in 2018. 

Hinting that they had discussed plans to eventually get hitched, she revealed, "I want to get married, travel, then have kids — probably in my late 30s." Although the couple seemingly planned to wait a while to make such a huge commitment, Hudgens wasn't judgmental of others with different goals, simply saying, "Everyone's clock is different." Indeed. The former Disney Channel star went on to explain why she and Butler were such a good match. "He inspires me more than anyone," she said. "We both respect, trust, and admire each other." 

In 2020, an insider alleged to People that the duo had been contemplating an engagement before their separation that January, with another source saying, "They really loved each other and have been through some of their toughest life moments together."

The former teen stars broke a law together

In 2016, a romantic trip to Sedona, Arizona ended in a criminal investigation after Austin Butler and Vanessa Hudgens broke a particular law. TMZ revealed that the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest had opened an investigation after Hudgens shared a now-deleted photo of a defaced rock to Instagram. The pair, who traveled to Arizona for Valentine's Day, carved their names and a heart into the federally protected red rock.

While Butler and Hudgens may have thought the carving was a romantic way to commemorate their relationship, they likely regretted the decision when they were later hit with a hefty fine. According to AZ Central, Hudgens was charged with a misdemeanor for damaging a natural feature. She had the option of either paying a $1,000 fine or appearing in court, and she decided to hand over the money.

Coconino National Forest spokesman Brady Smith explained why the couple's seemingly small mistake was actually a big deal. "We have found that when one person carves something, it encourages others to carve," he said in a statement, per CNN. "Carving of any kind affects the natural beauty of the area." Despite the backlash and legal consequences Hudgens faced, the actor kept one photo of her Sedona trip up on her Instagram account, which she simply captioned with, "#sedonadreams."

Vanessa Hudgens explained how they made long distance work

Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler's demanding careers meant they often spent months apart from each other. The couple frequently spoke about how they made their relationship work even with their busy schedules. When Butler temporarily relocated to New Zealand to film the MTV show "The Shannara Chronicles" in the mid-2010s, for example, Hudgens revealed to People how she and her busy boyfriend kept their romance alive despite the distance. "Just communication, communication is key," the "Powerless" actor said in 2017, adding, "I think that if anything's bothering you, don't hold it in. Always bring it up and just talk about it. Uncensor yourself and just be open."

Hudgens expanded on this statement the following year when she spoke to Access. When asked about the proven longevity of their relationship, she again opened up about prioritizing communication, sharing, "It's so easy to let things get lost in the shuffle, or to kind of push things down because you think that they don't really bother you, but if anything even remotely bothers you, you gotta talk about it." 

During an in-depth interview with Cosmopolitan, the former "High School Musical" star revealed that FaceTime was essential when she wasn't able to spend time with Butler in person. It may seem that this relationship was invincible, but Hudgens also admitted to the outlet that there were moments when the distance understandably upset her.

Austin Butler took part in her Coachella obsession

Vanessa Hudgens rarely misses the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — and she's usually spotted enjoying the festivities in bohemian-inspired attire. The actor has even been dubbed the Queen of Coachella by fans who anticipate her earthy outfits each year. Naturally, Austin Butler joined in on Hudgens' Coachella obsession when he began dating the star. 

In 2014, for example, the couple was spotted at the festival together, where it seemed Butler had quickly become accustomed to his then-girlfriend's garb, as he was photographed in patterned pants that mirrored Hudgens' hippie-esque style. Five years later, Butler and Hudgens were still regular Coachella attendees. According to the Daily Mail, they were seen at the festival again in 2019 — only this time, Hudgens wore a bright orange wig and dark sunglasses, making her nearly unrecognizable. The two were joined by a small group of friends, including Hudgens' former "High School Musical" co-star and Butler's bestie, Ashley Tisdale. 

If you're wondering why Hudgens is so passionate about Coachella, you might be happy to hear that she offered an explanation during an interview with W magazine that same year. "I've always gone to the festival to create new memories with people I love, and run around barefoot on the grass and listen to good music," she revealed.

They allegedly split due to their busy schedules

Austin Butler and Vanessa Hudgens likely left fans heartbroken when they split after nearly a decade together in early 2020. The former couple have since remained pretty quiet about the reason for the breakup, but it became obvious that they had moved on when they were spotted with other people (more on this below). 

In January 2020, however, a source shared details with E! News on why the duo supposedly parted ways, providing fans with the closure they were missing. "They're just shooting on two different continents and it's a matter of distance," the insider claimed. "There is no bad blood at all, and they have a lot of respect for each other." At the time, another source even alleged that there was a possibility Hudgens and Butler could get back together if they could work out their busy schedules.

While this doesn't seem very likely these days, it wasn't until two years later that Butler (kind of) addressed the breakup. When asked about the split during an interview for GQ's June 2022 cover story, the "Elvis" star simply shared: "Life is full of changes. You've got to find a way to constantly be evolving and growing." For her part, Hudgens has yet to publicly speak on the separation, but she did let fans in on her post-breakup dating life during a November 2020 interview with ET. "Your girl's open," the "Bad Boys For Life" star revealed. "I feel like at the end of the day, it's just about having similar fundamentals and wanting the same things."

Vanessa Hudgens moved on with Cole Tucker

In February 2021, Vanessa Hudgens took to Instagram to reveal her new relationship with Major League Baseball player Cole Tucker. She shared a photo of herself kissing the professional athlete on Valentine's Day, so things seemed to be serious between the two. Tucker also confirmed the high-profile romance himself around this time in a video shared by CBS Pittsburgh. "I got a girlfriend and she's cool," he quipped, without naming names. "She's awesome. I love her, but I don't want to be treated any differently than Mitch [Keller] having his wife come down, or Ke'Bryan [Hayes] having his girlfriend come down."

Given her past with Austin Butler, it's perhaps unsurprising to see that Hudgens appears to be incredibly supportive of her boyfriend's career, as she's often spotted at his games and has even posted selfies from the stands. If the couple's apparent chemistry has you questioning how they met, Hudgens told ET that April that she and Tucker both attended the same meditation group via Zoom. The following month, she shared on "The Drew Barrymore Show" that she took a chance by sliding into Tucker's DMs after a session, and it seems that her bravery paid off. 

While speaking with ET, Hudgens also gushed about her blossoming relationship with Tucker, saying, "He's just kind of perfect for me. I am [happy]. I really am." We love to see it!

Austin Butler went on to date Kaia Gerber

Like his former longtime girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens, Austin Butler has since seemingly found himself in a serious relationship after moving on from their nine-year romance. However, the "Elvis" star and his new model girlfriend, Kaia Gerber, tend to be a bit more secretive about their love life. Sure, the duo — who were first linked after attending a yoga class together in December 2021 — have no problem sharing a kiss on red carpets and are often snapped by paparazzi while going about their daily lives, but they notably opt out of speaking about each other in interviews. 

However, in the past, Gerber — who's 10 years Butler's junior — has opened up about her preference for older partners. In fact, it turns out that the couple's age gap isn't that unusual for the Gerber, considering her dating history: the model was previously linked to "Saturday Night Live" alum Pete Davidson, who's eight years her senior. "You know, I was doing fashion month [during my teens], but I was so young I had kissed, like, only one person. I had never had a high school sweetheart or anything," the daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford reflected to Vogue in 2021. "And so I tended to date older people because those were the people I was around."

Meanwhile, when Butler was asked about his headline-making blossoming relationship with Gerber in a May 2022 interview with GQ, he simply replied, "I don't think there's anything I want to share about that, but thank you for providing the space." Fair enough.