Inside Ellen DeGeneres' Relationship With Portia De Rossi

Ellen DeGeneres has had some major ups and downs throughout her career as a comedian and television host, but her relationship with "Arrested Development" star Portia de Rossi has been a consistent part of her life since the pair got together in 2004 (via Harper's Bazaar). The television power couple celebrated their 13th anniversary together in August 2021, when DeGeneres posted a selfie of the two on Instagram with the caption, "Happy anniversary, Portia. I'm the luckiest girl in the world because I get to share my life with you."


In the years since the couple first got together, they have stayed best friends and pursued their passions together, such as house flipping and animal rights activism. Fans might know about the couple's signature hobbies, but what about lesser-known details like who is the cook of the house? Do Ellen and Portia plan to raise a family? Who fell in love with who first? All that and more below as we take a look inside Ellen DeGeneres' relationship with Portia de Rossi.

Portia de Rossi knew Ellen was 'the one' when they met

It was love at first sight, according to Portia de Rossi. In an interview with Oprah, de Rossi admitted she knew Ellen DeGeneres was the one "when I first laid eyes on her." The pair had originally met at a social event in 2000, and de Rossi told Oprah she had felt "an immediate draw" to DeGeneres. While the two had gotten the chance to talk to one another at their first meeting, de Rossi was still living as a closeted gay woman.


From 1998 until 2002, de Rossi played the role of Nelle Porter on the hit Fox show "Ally McBeal" (via IMDb). De Rossi told Oprah, "I was very, very afraid that if I talked about being gay, it would be the end of my career." For DeGeneres, coming out as lesbian in 1997 nearly did ruin her career.

DeGeneres first came out through her fictional persona in the ABC sitcom "Ellen" before appearing on the front cover of Time magazine, assuring readers, "Yep, I'm Gay." Barely a year after the historic "Ellen" episode aired, ABC canceled the show. The New York Times reported that ABC even attempted to include a content warning for episodes with queer relationships. DeGeneres' persistence and eventual success through her very own talk show greatly contributed to the growing visibility of queerness in Hollywood.


Portia and Ellen went public with their relationship in 2005

Although Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres had immediate chemistry when they met in 2000, it would be four years until the two decided to make things official. During an interview with Oprah, de Rossi explained that she had seen DeGeneres at various parties throughout the years, but at a photoshoot before a 2004 VH1 awards show, something felt different when she said "hello" to her future wife. "It was like an arrow shot through my heart. I was weak at the knees; I was overwhelmed with how I felt," de Rossi told Oprah. It took de Rossi 10 months to work up the courage to confess her feelings to DeGeneres. "It was very hard for me to get her out of my mind after that," she told the Advocate.


The two made their first appearance as a couple at the 2005 Golden Globe Awards Party, where "Arrested Development," starring de Rossi as Lindsay Bluth, was nominated for two awards (via Business Insider). People magazine reported later that year that the couple had moved in together. "It's the first time that I've known in every cell of my being that I'm with somebody for the rest of my life," DeGeneres told them in the magazine's cover story. 

Ellen and Portia had to break off relationships to be together

Portia de Rossi, while publicly closeted at the time, was actually in a relationship with Italian filmmaker Francesca Gregorini when she met Ellen DeGeneres. "I really, really hated all the pain I put Francesca through, and I really didn't want to hurt her. But I just couldn't ignore the feelings I had for Ellen," she told the Advocate. Gregorini broke her silence on the breakup nearly a decade later. "I've never really talked about it, and I want to be respectful to all the players — and, to be honest, I've definitely made my peace. Portia and I are friends, I'm friends with Ellen," Gregorini told the Advocate in a separate interview.


DeGeneres had been dating photographer Alexadra Hedison when she and de Rossi met. "Even though this is a difficult time, I love her and will always want what's best for her," Hedison told the Advocate when her split from DeGeneres became public.

Ellen and Portia got married in an intimate ceremony in 2008

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional (via the Los Angeles Times). While Ellen DeGeneres hadn't originally planned to propose to Portia de Rossi at the time, the timing worked out perfectly for them. At a joint birthday party for the couple, DeGeneres was initially going to surprise de Rossi with a commitment ceremony (via Oprah). With gay marriage newly legalized, DeGeneres took the opportunity to propose to de Rossi instead.


The two were married soon after in August of that same year in an intimate ceremony with close friends and family (via CBS News). The wedding took place at their Los Angeles home, and both wore outfits designed for them by Zac Posen. Their ceremony was filled with sweet and sentimental moments: They exchanged vows while seated on floor pillows in their living room surrounded by candlelight. To top it all off, they finished the night with their favorite vegan red velvet cake.

Marriage was a big step for de Rossi, who sincerely wanted to have "that kind of legal stamp of validity" to her relationship with her wife (via Oprah). "Now it's fact; it's law. She's my wife and I get to say that she's my wife, and that's just the way it is," she said.


Portia de Rossi became Portia DeGeneres

Portia de Rossi hadn't changed her last name when she first married Ellen DeGeneres in 2008. It wasn't until 2010, two years after their wedding ceremony, that de Rossi submitted the paperwork to take on her wife's last name (via Time). The name change was granted a month later, and Portia de Rossi became Portia DeGeneres. Portia Lee James DeGeneres is the actor's full legal name, though she still uses de Rossi for professional purposes. This wasn't de Rossi's first go-around at changing her name either. Until the age of 15, Portia de Rossi was actually known as Amanda Rogers (via the Advocate).


de Rossi explained how she legally changed her name at 15 due to internal conflict about her sexuality: "Everything just didn't fit, and I was trying to find things I could identify myself with, and it started with my name." She chose the name Portia as an homage to Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" and de Rossi as a means of creating a more Italian-sounding name.

The couple was surprised when divorce rumors began circulating

On her talk show in 2013, Ellen DeGeneres opened by telling the audience how she discovered rumors circulating in tabloids that she and Portia de Rossi were getting divorced. While at the hair salon, DeGeneres noticed a tabloid with her and de Rossi's picture on the front page. "I thought, 'Oh, that's sweet, they're honoring us,'" she began. "And then I read the headline underneath and it said 'Ellen and Portia's Marriage Crumbles.' I was like, 'Oh, what happened? They seemed so happy,'" she joked. 


Divorce rumors have clung to the couple since shortly after the two married. Despite DeGeneres addressing the rumors in 2013, the rumors surged three years later. DeGeneres told People in 2016, "We've been followed recently by the paparazzi, and we found out it's because there's a story out there that we're getting divorced. We don't know why. We're together all the time. We genuinely love each other."

Ellen and Portia are fierce animal rights activists

Portia de Rossi became vegan when she and Ellen DeGeneres moved onto a farm in California. After witnessing her cows interact with the couple's new mare in a touching and human way, de Rossi decided to stop eating meat. "I started crying and thought, I can't possibly keep eating these animals," she told The couple has been vegan ever since and even had vegan catering at their wedding. In 2019, they even invested money into the vegan cheese company, Miyoko's Creamery. "Being kind to one another is not just about people, it extends to animals as well," DeGeneres said in a statement (via Plant Based News).


For DeGeneres' 60th birthday, de Rossi surprised her wife by building a campus for the Dian Fossey research center for gorillas in her name. Dian Fossey was a famous primatologist in the 1960s, whose research on mountain gorillas landed her on the front cover of National Geographic in 1968. While presenting the birthday reveal to her wife, de Rossi added, "When people ask my wife, who is the person living or dead you most want to interview, her answer is always Dian Fossey" (via "The Ellen DeGeneres Show").

Portia has supported Ellen through controversial times

In 2020, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" came under fire after several former employees alleged that the show provided a toxic work environment. The BuzzFeed exposé gathered interviews from 10 former employees who pointed to senior managers and executive producers as the main drivers of toxic behavior on set. "If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on," said one of the interviewees.


Warner Media conducted an internal investigation shortly after, although sources specified that the investigation was not directed toward DeGeneres (via Today). Portia de Rossi soon posted on Instagram to thank fans for their continued support. "I Stand by Ellen" read the message posted by de Rossi. The investigation concluded with staffing changes and internal adjustments (via Today). In 2021, DeGeneres decided to end the show after 19 years on the air. She told Today her decision was not based on the controversy from the year before, nor was it due to the ratings decline; rather, her decision was founded on the emotional turmoil the controversy had put her through.

Ellen and Portia are best friends

The couple have often told sources they are best friends above all else. Both Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres have roots in comedy, which comes through in their inside jokes and bubbly interviews together. DeGeneres told People about a recurring inside joke between the two: "Portia and I have this joke that if we're lying in bed for a little while, I'll say, 'What are you thinking about?' And she says 'horses.' And then she says, 'What are you thinking about?' And I go, 'houses.' Literally any time of the day, horses and houses." (More on houses in a bit.)


Any strong relationship is built on a foundation of friendship, and its clear that de Rossi and DeGeneres share a beautiful friendship, even after a decade of marriage. "I can't imagine not being married. I have my best friend, the person I want to spend time with more than anybody else in the world," DeGeneres told People. In another interview the couple did with People after twelve years of marriage behind them, both affirmed that gratitude was key to their successful relationship. Even when traveling, the couple finds ways to express their love for one another. For example, de Rossi will leave love notes for DeGeneres to find, while DeGeneres will have the hotel staff at de Rossi's destination leave rose petals in the shape of a heart on her bed.


Ellen loves flipping houses

As of 2021, Ellen DeGeneres has bought and sold over 20 houses with her wife, Portia de Rossi, at her side (via Architectural Digest). In her childhood, DeGeneres "never had a house when I was growing up," she told Architectural Digest. After dreaming about owning a home her whole life, DeGeneres was determined to buy a house of her own. "The first thing I did when I made money was buy a house. And then—" she began. "Another one," her wife chimed in. "And another one and another one and another one..."


In an interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," DeGeneres opened up about her hobby for house flipping: "I like real estate, and I like the whole architecture and design, and I love doing it." DeGeneres has sold her numerous houses to a number of fellow celebrities including Will Ferrel, Ariana Grande, Heath Ledger, and Ryan Seacrest, to name a few.

Portia is the chef of the DeGeneres household

In 2014, Ellen DeGeneres announced on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that her wife, Portia de Rossi, had started delving into cooking. According to DeGeneres, de Rossi had begun to teach herself the fundamentals of home cooking without taking any specialty classes. "I love preparing food, and I love, like, making it the perfect temperature," de Rossi said of her hobby (via "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"). "I garnish," she added with a flourish.


When the couple participated in an interview with close friend Jennifer Aniston, de Rossi revealed her only pet peeve of DeGeneres: how her wife would always get up to feed the cats right after de Rossi set out the perfectly-timed dinner she made for the evening. DeGeneres admitted she knew her wife's pet peeve, joking, "I hurry up and rush and feed them, but sometimes they want different choices. So, I put down two different kinds because they're hungry."

Ellen and Portia don't want to have kids

Both Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have been public about their decision not to have children. De Rossi spoke at length about the issue with Out Magazine: "There comes some pressure in your mid-30s, and you think, 'Am I going to have kids so I don't miss out on something that other people really seem to love? Or is it that I really genuinely want to do this with my whole heart?'" de Rossi continued, "I didn't feel that my response was 'yes' to the latter. You have to really want to have kids, and neither of us did. So it's just going to be me and Ellen and no babies."


In 2015, DeGeneres addressed the same issue on the "Today" show: "I love kids, but that's such a big commitment ... It seems like a commitment that you have to stick with. And I just don't know if I can — it's too risky" (via Us Weekly). Despite the couple deciding to abstain from parenthood, they have several rescue animals and often choose properties large enough to accommodate their farm animals when they move. At the time of their wedding in 2008, a reporter asked the couple, "'Where do you see yourselves on your 25th anniversary?' and they both said on a farm with a lot of animals" (via CBS News).