“You say we’re just friends/But friends don’t know the way you taste, la la la/’Cause you know it’s been a long time coming/Don’t you let me fall”
For the past few days, the pop powerhouses—and longtime friends—have been making headlines thanks to the way they seemed to rather inseparably spend their Fourth of July week with one another, popping up at each other’s concerts, getting caught as each other’s dates at parties around Los Angeles, and enjoying both flirty nights out and PDA-packed brunches.
It’s all inspired enough wishful thinking amongst fans of both singers that one asked Mendes outright during a VIP meet-and-greet Q&A on July 6 whether or not we had a new pop music power couple on our hands. And while the “In My Blood” hunk shook his head before moving on to the second half of the fan’s question—which was, if not, would he date her instead—not everyone is so convinced that he’s telling the truth.
And it’s been that way almost ever since the met each other a whopping five years ago, as they were both starting out in the music biz. Back in 2014, before Mendes, 20, was the new prince of pop and Cabello, 22, had forged a successful solo career after walking away from the girl group that made her a star, the two were supporting acts on Austin Mahone‘s tour—she, one-fifth of Fifth Harmony; he, known mostly as a Vine star. And while Cabello began dating Mahone shortly thereafter, there was an immediate connection between her and Mendes that even she couldn’t help but comment on a year later.
When told by E! News at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas, in September 2015, that she and Mendes would make a cute couple during an interview that the “Stitches” singer would quickly crash, she burst into laughter and joked that he was actually jealous of her short-lived situation with Mahone.
“While we were on tour, Austin and I were dating and Shawn was just kind of being a loner,” she said. “Yeah, he was so jealous and he couldn’t come out on stage because he was just seething rage and crying blood.”
Though it’s clear she’s joking about the severity of the situation—at least we hope there was no actual crying blood involved—it’s not hard to imagine that there’s at least a kernel of truth buried within that joke. Especially when you consider quotes from the two in more recent years about those early days spent touring together.
“When we were on tour together, I never saw him,” she told Variety in 2018. “He would go to his tour bus and practice guitar, then go onstage, and then go back and practice guitar. He’s the most dedicated, driven person I know.”
For a joint interview with V Magazine in 2019—more of a conversation between the two, really—as they promoted “Señorita,” the two opened up about their first impressions of one another. And, well, the curiosity about—if not outright attraction towards—one another is almost palpable.
“I remember I wanted to hang out with you, but you were always on the tour bus, just learning guitar,” she told Mendes, to which he replied, “Yeah, that was me. I didn’t talk to anybody. You were the only person that talked to me. Like, you were the only one of everybody on that tour who would say words to me. Actually, I think if we go into our DM’s or something, there’s a photo from the day we met, I think.”
After adding that he thought she was crazy, to which she replied “I am,” he continued, “I’d be in my bus where no one could see me. I’d be looking through the window and I’d see you like, flying around on a scooter and jumping and doing cartwheels. I’d be like, she’s insane. Close the window and go to sleep.”
Getty Images for iHeartMedia
With a flirty foundation in place as the tour ended, the two entered 2015 both single (Cabello announced her split from Mahone in November 2014, about a week after confirming she was even dating him) and very willing to let the public in on the ways in which their relationship was blossoming. They’d tweet about each other, post photos of one another, reveal that she was giving him Spanish lessons in return for guitar lessons, and even began teasing a potential collaboration via quick videos of their jam sessions.
And then, in November 2015, they gave fans what they wanted—musically, that is—in the form of “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” their first duet. In the video for the slick pop track, the two endlessly walk in the other’s direction as they remain just out of reach. How’s that for a metaphor?
To support the track, the pair appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where the late-night host peppered them fan questions submitted via Twitter. When asked if they were dating, they both quickly said they weren’t. And James Corden admitted that he didn’t believe them. “There’s no way you haven’t made out,” he told the pair.
“We haven’t, actually,” Mendes replied to the host’s astonishment. “Every time I try and make a move, she swerves me off.”
Cabello, on the other hand, said it was him who wasn’t allowing things to progress. “He friend-zones me,” she teased. “He calls me ‘Kid!'”
They both quickly tried to make it clear that they were kidding, something even Corden failed to believe. “You’re both being very defensive right now,” he said as the crowd laughed.
Photography by Justin Campbell
During subsequent interviews with Capital FM and People, Mendes really tried to make it clear that the two were not dating and never had been. “You can’t expect, as an artist, to do a collaboration with a girl and for the world not to think you’re dating. And we’re not dating. Set set straight there,” he told the former, before adding with a laugh, “Don’t ask again.”
Speaking with the latter in October 2016, he stressed that the two had never been “a thing.”
“We’re just really close friends,” he told the magazine. “She is one of those people who is just very easy to connect with and still, to this day, is one of my greatest friends. You find that instant connection with people, and she’s one of them.”
As time moved forward, the dating questions seemed to subside as focus was kept on their blossoming careers—Cabello was about to strike out on her own, announcing her departure from Fifth Harmony in December 2016. And all the while, they remained one another’s biggest fans both on social media (where Mendes gushed profusely over the steps she was taking in her burgeoning solo career) and in the press.
“He’s so cute, I love him,” Camila said while on The Zach Sang Show in January 2018. “We’re always texting and always on the phone. We’re never in the same place at the same time but we’re always texting about random stuff. We talk about Harry Potter. I love Shawn, he’s a real friend.”
“Oh my God, she is my favorite person in the whole world,” Mendes told Zane Lowe a few months later, during an April 2018 Beats 1 interview. “I don’t think you’ll ever meet somebody who can feel emotion like her, in all aspects. She can feel hurt like no other, but she can feel love like no other.”
And while the two would routinely link up at major events like the Billboard Music Awards in May 2018, where they got down to Ariana Grande‘s performance, or the 2019 Grammy Awards, where Mendes gushed on social media about how proud he was of her performance afterwards, their romantic lives took them in other directions.
Mendes would walk the Met Gala carpet with Hailey Bieber in May 2018 just months before she got engaged to, and subsequently married, Justin Bieber, admitting later that they were more than friends, telling Rolling Stone that they were “in a zone of limbo.” Meanwhile, Cabello would make her public debut with boyfriend Matthew Hussey, a British dating coach in his early 30s whom she met on the set of Today in September 2017 and had been dating on the low ever since, at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party after.
While Cabello gushed in the Holiday 2018 issue of Marie Claire about her beau, admitting that he makes her “the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” she explained to Billboard last December why she’d kept the relationship on the low. “I know that it would be a lot more interesting for people if I posted more about my private life or was involved in the gossip or whatever,” she told the magazine. “I just don’t like it. I just want to be a good artist. I don’t want to be a great celebrity. I’m not!”
So while Mendes was still available as he and Cabello filmed that steamy “Señorita” music video, released on June 21, 2019, it seemed that Cabello had truly been unavailable to him all this time and would remain that way. Until, that is, exactly five days later, when the world learned that she and Hussey had split.
While the nature of their break-up remained unclear—they hadn’t been photographed together since mid-May—Cabello did seem to confirm the split when she issued a plea to fans after reports broke to stop engaging in “hateful” behavior.
“To my fans, if you really love me, please do not send people I love and care about hateful things. You doing that really hurts me, and it’s so unnecessary and heavy and damaging to add more pain to pain,” she wrote in her Instagram Story, presumably addressing the folks who’d gone to Hussey’s Instagram posts and commented with lyrics to “Señorita.” “There’s a real person behind your tweets. You spamming them with hateful, insensitive things is really not funny, is causing all of us pain, and doesn’t all reflect the values I talk about.”
And just like that, both BFFs were suddenly available for something more. And it seems as though they’ve finally gone for it.
Despite Mendes’ attempt to downplay things during that meet-and-greet, an insider tells E! News that there is, in fact, something going on between the pals—as if the photos weren’t proof enough.
“They’ve been completely inseparable over the last week. They are having breakfast, lunch and dinner and [are] rarely apart. Camila went to Shawn’s show at Staples Center and they spent 4th of July together at a white party in the Hills,” our source told us. “Ever since then they don’t seem to want to spend any time apart.”
CPR/D.Sanchez / BACKGRID
As the eyewitness added, they’ve hardly attempted to hide their feelings when out in public. Take their brunch on Sunday, July 7, where they “were very touchy-feely and affectionate,” for instance. “Camila couldn’t keep her hands off of Shawn’s chest,” the insider revealed. “He had his arm around her and was smiling at her like crazy. They were laughing and flirting the entire meal. They stood at the valet stand, hugging each other and pulling each other in close.”
“They seem giddy around each other,” the source added, revealing a separate coffee date where the two were holding hands. “Camilla was skipping down the street and Shawn was laughing. They danced together and he twirled her around. They can’t get enough of each other and seem so excited to be together.”
It may be early days in their new level of their relationship, but it seems as though Mendes and Cabello are not only finally giving the fans what they’ve wanted all along, but what they each might’ve been hoping for all this time, too.
“All along I’ve been coming for you/And I hope it meant something to you,” they sing in “Señorita.”
Something tells us it does.