What We Know About Why Blake Lively And Penn Badgley Broke Up

For those who shipped Dan and Serena during the original run of "Gossip Girl," learning that they were a real-life item was a delight. As the fictional couple fell more and more in love during the first three seasons of the CW teen drama, so did Blake Lively and Penn Badgley.

Over the course of the series' run, Dan and Serena unsurprisingly had their ups and downs (lest we forget they were step-siblings at one point). However, as "Gossip Girl" came to an end in 2012, fans of their ship rejoiced as they tied the knot during a flash forward (via YouTube). While Dan and Serena may have gotten their happy ending, the same can't be said for Lively and Badgley.

During the third season of "Gossip Girl" in 2010, the couple decided to part ways (via People). It would seem that the comparisons between their on-screen and off-screen romance became too much for them, but was that really the only reason why they decided to split?

Blake Lively and Penn Badgley dated for three years

As the first season of "Gossip Girl" came to an end in 2008, there were rumors that the on-screen couple were actually dating in real life. They initially denied these rumors, with Blake Lively telling People, "everybody always tries to dig into your personal life or create things that aren't there ... it's silly." At the time, she said the most important thing to her was, "to keep [the] core people around me that know the truth about everything."

But once they were spotted kissing off the "Gossip Girl" set during a vacation in Mexico (via People), the couple confirmed that they were, in fact, an item. While they didn't really talk about their relationship at the time, Penn Badgley fondly reminisced about their time together during an Actor on Actor segment for Variety in 2020 (via YouTube). Speaking to "Gossip Girl" co-star Chace Crawford, he distinctly remembered a date he had with Lively at The Palace (one of the show's landmarks), as well as Lively giving him his first iPhone.

"I didn't even want it. Blake got me that. ... I was like, 'I don't want this thing. It's so cumbersome and it has all these apps,'" he said. Lively had to explain everything to him, including the "bird thing" that was Twitter. "Explaining it to me was such a foreign concept," Badgley noted.

The couple's split was so secret that the 'Gossip Girl' crew was unaware

Like their relationship, Blake Lively and Penn Badgley's breakup was just as private. In a 2017 retrospective of the show published by Vanity Fair, executive producer Joshua Safran revealed that he found out they split months after it actually happened. "They kept the breakup hidden from the crew, which you could never do now. I don't even know how they did it," he explained, adding that it was a "testament to how good they are as actors."

In the same interview, Lively delved deeper into why she and Badgley broke things off. From her perspective, it was becoming hard to distinguish herself from Serena. "I was wearing the same clothes and doing fashion shoots, and dating the same person as my character was dating." The actress said, "what people were projecting onto me was that I was Serena."

Eventually, the couple reached a point where they were fearful of their relationship overlapping with their characters and how that would be perceived by the creators of "Gossip Girl." However, they realized that's what the creators wanted. As Lively noted, the fact she and Badgley were dating, "fed into their whole narrative. People could buy into [the fictionalized world of 'Gossip Girl']."

Following their break-up, Penn Badgley dated Zoë Kravitz

Penn Badgley echoed similar sentiments in a 2013 interview with Elle. Like Blake Lively, the actor was aware of how caught up they became in the show, which he likened to a "six-year endurance test." Badgley spent the first half of that test in a relationship with Lively, which the actor said helped them through it as actors. "Having a relationship with someone you work with might not always be the smartest move," he told Men's Health a few months before their breakup (via Access Hollywood). "But it's been wonderful to be in a relationship where we can both identify with what the other is expecting."

A year after Badgley broke up with Lively, he started dating Zoë Kravitz (via InStyle). Speaking to Elle about their relationship, he noted that dating someone else in the entertainment industry can have its complications. "As an actor, being in a relationship you have this opportunity to have something really exceptional," he said. "But then it can also be very warped." While he doesn't have a problem with on-screen romances with other actors, Badgley noted, "There are complications being an object of attention. I've found it's a double-edged sword. But I'm happy to wield it."

The actor is now married to professional doula Domino Kirke

Shortly after that interview with Elle, Penn Badgley and Zoë Kravitz ended up parting ways. In 2014, rumors circulated that he was dating professional doula Domino Kirke (via Us Weekly). Those rumors ended up being true, and the couple was married by 2017.

According to Elle Australia, the couple lives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, with their two children — Cassius and James. Cassius is Kirke's son from a previous relationship, and James was born during the pandemic after the couple went through two miscarriages. "I stopped trusting my body and started to accept the fact that I was done," Kirke wrote on Instagram, announcing her pregnancy (via People). "You're already teaching us how to stay in the day in a way we've never had to, little one." She concluded the post, "Thank you."

Badgley also opened up about his experience of being a new dad. Speaking to InStyle, the actor explained, "I don't know what it's like to be at least a biological father outside of the pandemic," adding that it's just been him, Kirke, and Cassius with their latest addition. "And as a result, in some ways, we're thrilled, there's a beautiful joy and lightness to our connection with him. He seems to reflect that. And at the same time, it's so hard."

Blake Lively tied the knot with Ryan Reynolds in 2012

Like Penn Badgley, Blake Lively continued to date a few notable faces before settling down. She was rumored to be "casually dating" Ryan Gosling in 2010, according to PopSugar, and even dated Leonardo DiCaprio for five months during the summer of 2011.

However, it was during filming for "The Green Lantern" in 2010 that she met her future husband, Ryan Reynolds. According to Glamour, the couple started dating in 2011 and tied the knot in a secret wedding a year later. As of 2022, they have three children together — James, Inez, and Betty.

They've quickly become one of Hollywood's golden couples, mainly from the banter they share during interviews and on social media — and, of course, from the love and appreciation they share for one another. "I'm very lucky to be with someone who has better taste than me," Lively told Lucky magazine in 2013 (via PopSugar). "We influence each other in different ways. With film and TV, you don't see that result for months. Building a home [together], you get immediate gratification."