Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse dated for about two years before reports of their breakup in July. As intriguing as their secretive relationship was prior to a reported split, this co-star couple’s end only heightened public interest in their romance.
Sprouse and Reinhart’s post-(reported) breakup behavior is like a Rorschach test for believing love still exists. Here, we break down everything from their cryptic Instagram flirtation before they went public with their romance to their, well, cryptic Instagram flirtation after their relationship was reported to have ended.
February 2017: It only took about a month after Riverdale‘s premiere on the CW for romance rumors to start between two of its leads. Reinhart posted a sultry photo of herself on Twitter, captioned with the peach emoji. Sprouse responded with a comic strip that said, “Tempt me!” A showmance ‘ship was born.
March/April 2017: Things stay tentatively quiet on the Sprouse and Reinhart dating front. Although the former Disney Channel star does find time to post two stunning photos of Reinhart to Instagram. There wasn’t much context provided with the posts, but they definitely got people speculating about Sprouse’s Instagram boyfriend potential…
June 2017: It was Reinhart’s turn to flirtatiously respond to a tweet. In mid-June Sprouse posted a black-and-white shot of him captioned, “When the cradle robs back.” Reinhart replied with the heart-eyed, fire, and universal thirst emojis. Buzz grew louder that these two were taking Betty and Jughead’s relationship off-screen.
July 2017: Comic-Con began a strange bookend of sorts for the couple, as this was the first event that seemed to confirm their romantic relationship. (Two years later, the convention would also act as the couple’s last public outing before reports of a breakup circulated.)
At the 2017 Comic-Con, People reported that Reinhart was seen wearing Sprouse’s maroon blazer at Entertainment Weekly‘s party. The initial report also claimed the pair had been spotted holding hands and kissing.
August 2017: Reinhart didn’t shy away from professing her affection for Sprouse on his 25th birthday. She marked the occasion on Instagram by writing, “To the man who has showed me more beautiful places in this past year than I have ever seen in my whole life. Happy birthday, Cole. Thank you for all of the adventures and here’s to many more 🌙.”
At least one of Sprouse and Reinhart’s Riverdale co-stars didn’t get the whole “We’re secretly dating” memo because Skeet Ulrich commented on the maybe-couple’s chemistry to Entertainment Tonight. “Well, I know they spend time together because they’re at work all the time together,” Ulrich said, adding that their close bond didn’t surprise him. “They have great chemistry and they’ve been at our house with a lot of the Riverdale people and they always enjoy each other’s company. So I wish them the best.”
October 2017: The pair spent most of the month sidestepping questions about their personal life, while also making it pretty clear the co-stars didn’t mind kissing one another. In an interview with ET, Reinhart said, “I think we’re all so comfortable with one another that it’s not even really a thing. If we have a kissing scene, it’s fine. We don’t really think twice about it….But it’s easy, we’re all friends. It would be more nerve-wracking if you had to make out with someone that you didn’t know. So if by chance we do end up having to kiss each other, it’s fine, and it doesn’t feel weird.”
Sprouse went one step farther that month during an appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan. “They’re contractually obliged to give me as many kiss scenes as possible this season,” he joked. “I wrote it into my contract.”
November 2017: This month, Sprouse was included in People‘s Sexiest Man Alive issue. Naturally, conversation turned to dating and relationships. He joked that speculation had swirled about him dating various cast members, before addressing the Reinhart rumors directly. “Lili and I are constantly talked about in the public eye, and for me I think that it is being deeply informed by the love of the characters and wanting to see us together,” Sprouse told the outlet. “I think that in many ways it’s offensive and an invasion of privacy, but it’s also a badge of honor because it means you’re creating a chemistry onscreen that is so understandable that people want to see it in real life, which is flattering from a professional perspective.”
But those hoping for an obvious confirmation from Sprouse were sorely mistaken. “No comment,” he told People when asked if he was dating Reinhart. He then dived into his philosophy behind the privacy:
“Because whether you dismiss those rumors or whether you encourage those rumors, it’s giving people who are in my opinion are a bit entitled to your personal life more power, and you have to have spaces for reverence in the industry…the more you let people in on that, the more people feel entitled to it and the more it becomes problematic with whoever you end up being with in the future, so I take that very seriously. So I just never talk about it because it’s not anyone’s right to know. People can speculate all they want, people speculate about me with every member of the cast practically, but it’s really no one’s right to know. It’s also sexy, these parts of the relationships that are just yours.”
January 2018: Sprouse and Reinhart jetted away from questions about their relationship to Hawaii. Photos emerged of the two Riverdale cast members with fans. On the whole, the vacay managed to go largely undetected.
Reinhart also spoke to V Magazine about why she refused to put fans out of their misery and confirm her relationship with Sprouse. And her answer mirrored her “rumored” boyfriend’s:
“People are just dying to know information about if I’m in a relationship or not. I understand the interest, but it’s called a private life for a reason. And it’s not something that I owe the world. People are going to say anything and everything. They’re going to say that I love KJ, they’re gonna say that I love Cami, and they’re gonna say that I love Cole: it’s inevitable. But I’m not at a point in my life where I’m ready to openly confirm, deny, or talk about a relationship that I’m in, because I think it’s brutal to have a relationship in the spotlight where I can be scrutinized by anyone and everyone. Being in a relationship with someone, it’s a relationship between those two people, and I feel like when you let enough people in, it’s not about those two people anymore. It’s about everyone.“
March 2018: At a PaleyFest panel with the cast of Riverdale, questions from the audience permitted some sly fan interrogation. During the Q&A, a young girl straight-up asks Sprouse and Reinhart if they are dating. After a few seconds of tense awkwardness and Reinhart covering her face, Sprouse gives the most charged “No comment” (potentially of all time).
April 2018: Even this ultra secretive couple couldn’t hide their love in the City of Light. During a trip to Paris, paparazzi captured Sprouse and Reinhart walking the streets while kissing and holding hands. They also met the pair at the airport, where they avoided answering questions by begrudgingly copping to their relationship.
The couple also found time to travel to Mexico this month. Sprouse continued to showcase his photography talents with multiple posts of Reinhart, her location set in Cuixmala.
May 2018: In May, the couple finally made their official red carpet debut at the Met Gala. Reinhart donned a silver, off-the-shoulder dress by H&M, but the Internet would argue her best accessory was Sprouse, clad in a black tux. She even anointed the couple ‘gram official with a mirror selfie before the event.
July 2018: …but before people could get too excited about Sprouse and Reinhart’s out and proud moments, she shut down talk of Sprouse in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “I’m not okay talking about my relationship,” she stated. “I’m not going to tell you my love story. That’s just not appropriate right now.”
August 2018: Reinhart posted another touching birthday tribute to Sprouse, captioning a photo of him: “It seems as if the world would still be a stranger to me, if not for you. I’m so thankful that our paths intertwined to form this beautiful adventure~ Happy birthday, my love.”
This month, another Riverdale actor endeavored to speak on their co-stars’ relationship. “It’s great,” Madchen Amick told ET. “I mean, they didn’t talk about [their relationship] the entire time, until just recently. So, it’s nice that they’re able to now, like, be public with it, so it’s not so under wraps. But at the same time, they’re in complete control of what they want to share and how they want to share it. Behind the scenes, they’re so sweet with each other and they’re both just exceptional people.”
The burgeoning couple also got a bit more loose on Instagram, with Reinhart posting a photo of Sprouse on top of a mountain, captioned, “🙏🏻.” Over a week later, she captioned a photo of the two in Paris, “6am.”
September 2018: Sprouse finally gave in to sharing a sentimental birthday post for Reinhart. He captioned an artsy, topless photo of her, “Both the birthday and the gift. My little muse, happy birthday my love.“
The co-stars-turned-couple also gave insight into their first impressions of one another in a Friendship Test video for Glamour. Sprouse admitted that at first, “Lili was a tough egg to crack. She’s very shy at first and reserved. I think it was about halfway into the first season she started letting people in truly.” Reinhart’s initial impression of Sprouse was also far from love at first sight. “I thought his voice was annoying,” she confessed. “I was like, ‘That guy’s got an annoying voice.’ And now it’s grown on me, I guess.”
However, both Sprouse and Reinhart also discussed what they admired in the other. “She’s one of those people that consistently pushes me to be better at the arts that I’m pursuing,” Sprouse said. “That’s just the kind of person she is. She inspires excellence out of everybody she works with.” Reinhart echoed those sentiments, explaining, “Cole is one of the smartest, the smartest person that I’m friends with. He’s incredibly passionate about art, about photography, about acting, and I really admire that.”
October 2018: In an interview with Teen Vogue, Reinhart reiterated her stance on keeping her personal life personal, clarifying that she didn’t intentionally “dangle” her relationship in people’s faces. Instead, she opted to divulge things she likes about Sprouse. “I like to go on adventures with Cole,” she told the outlet, referencing some of the couple’s travel posts. “Truly, adventures. He takes me to places where I’m like, ‘How did you find this?’ He’s made me see these things that I would have never seen otherwise. It’s escapism, which is so beautiful and wonderful.”
In a Who What Wear story that same month, Reinhart expressed how she wanted her relationship “to be between me and him, not me, him, and the world.” But she also didn’t mind providing insight into the couple’s joint love of photography. “I think he is such an incredible photographer, really,” she told the publication. “Sometimes he’s inspired by a location, and he’s like, ‘I want to shoot you here.’ Other times, I’m inspired by a dress, and I’m like, ‘I want you to shoot me in this.’ Our photo shoots are very intimate, just him and me; no one else is there ever.”
Reinhart and Sprouse also found time to publicly poke fun at their secretive relationship. Reinhart posted a shirtless photo of Sprouse with the caption, “I hope you don’t mind.” He aptly responded, “Are you guys dating.”
November 2018: With the holidays approaching, Sprouse paid a visit to Reinhart’s family in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. She posted a photo of Cole cuddling with a golden retriever and captioned it, “This picture makes me so happy.”
December 2018: December is kept relatively quite for the couple, other than a peak IG comment from Reinhart. Under a meme that read, “No man has all 5: good dick game, empathy, a height above 5’9, no hoes, common sense,” Reinhart wrote “I found one!”
February 2019: For a GQ story, Sprouse spouts off the most succinct answer yet regarding his relationship: “It’s not something that we hide, or it’s not something that we show off. It’s just something that exists.”
Something that always seems to exist for Sprouse and Reinhart’s relationship is breathtaking photos of her, courtesy of him. One such pic of Reinhart in snow comes on February 11, which he captions, “‘How do the people you shoot even tolerate you?’ @lilireinhart on ‘making her suffer for my art’.”
For Valentine’s Day, both Sprouse and Reinhart post about each other on the ‘gram. Sprouse opts for a solo shot of Reinhart, that he presumably took, captioned, “Quite actually the only thing keeping me sane is @lilireinhart.”
Reinhart pays tribute to her beau by posting a sunset rooftop selfie of the two, writing, “You make me very happy. Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.”
March 2019: In March, Sprouse’s romantic drama Five Feet Apart hits theaters. As such, Reinhart attends the film’s premiere alongside the leading man. She posts a photo of the two laughing together on the red carpet, along with a touching caption: “I am so in awe of @colesprouse and @haleyluhoo for their work in this film.
The last few days have been hard on all of us… and this film touches you in a way that makes you feel incredibly grateful to be with the people you love. I can’t express enough how moved I was by @fivefeetapartfilm — I can’t wait for the world to see it.“
During the press tour for the film, Sprouse sounded off on his relationship to Glamour, when he described a “road-trip date” to Canada he took Reinhart on. “I surprised her with a big hot-air balloon adventure, which was quite a bit of fun,” Sprouse recalled. “I like traveling quite a bit. I like road-tripping. Those grand experiences always end up yielding the greatest memories—and the greatest romances.”
Sprouse also told the Los Angeles Times, “We legitimately could not stay away from one another,” when asked if not dating his co-star was ever an option.
May 2019: Sprouse started off the month with yet another portrait of Reinhart, dramatically staring into a body of water. “Some mercurial pool,” the actor captioned his post.
May also brought the couple’s second consecutive Met Gala outing. The two were all smiles as they walked the red carpet in their camp-themed best. No one would’ve suspected any reported breakup looming…
July 2019: On July 22, just days after the two attended Comic-Con for a Riverdale panel, Sprouse and Reinhart reportedly broke up. It was even reported by Us Weekly that they kept their distance from one another during multiple events that weekend.
At the time, a source told E! News, “Lili and Cole broke-up earlier this summer. The two are not living together this season. The source added, “Right now, it’s unclear where things stand, but it seems [like] they could be heading back in the direction of getting together.”
A People insider claimed to have even more insight about the pair’s split. “Their friends didn’t really expect them to last in the long-run,” the source said about Sprouse and Reinhart’s romance. “At the end of the day, their personalities are very different and their lifestyles often clashed. Things have felt super heavy in the relationship for a while, and it got to be too much. They’re both very professional though and trying to be as amicable and friendly as possible.”
After “close sources” stayed quiet during the duration of Reinhart and Sprouse’s relationship, their breakup brought several out of the woodwork. That same week, a source told E! that the couple’s relationship “has always been up and down,” adding, “They split this time after an argument while on their break from filming. Cole decided to end the relationship.” However, playing Jughead and Betty on the CW series does put the actors in a position to rekindle their romance, per the source. “Now that filming is happening again, it is very likely they will mend the relationship and get back together,” the insider claims. “They spend A LOT of time together on set. They have a lot of chemistry and it’s hard for them to deny that they truly care about each other.”
Further signaling that this couple’s breakup was only the beginning of a new chapter, the two appeared on the cover of W magazine around the same time. Major post-mortem relationship info included the fact that Sprouse pushed the relationship’s privacy initially. “At first, I didn’t want things private,” Reinhart told the outlet. “Now that I’m X amount of years in, I do appreciate the privacy we have, that he’s encouraged me to take. No one knows how long we’ve been together, and no one will until we’re ready to say it. No one knows how we fell in love, except for our close friends and us. It’s really special. If and when we break up on the show, I don’t know,” she said, trailing off, according to W. “It’s weird being with an actor. You deal with shit no one has to deal with.” The reporter also noted that Sprouse and Reinhart had allegedly split and completed their interviews separately.
Fans anxiously awaited how (if at all) Reinhart and Sprouse would acknowledge their joint cover in the aftermath of their breakup. But the two star’s reactions were anything but predictable. On the day of the magazine’s release, both posted a photo of the cover and quite colorful captions to match.
“BREAKING: A reliable source has confirmed that none of you know shit,” Reinhart pointedly captioned her post0. Sprouse wrote under his photo, “UNPRECEDENTED: Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart consume the flesh of ‘reliable sources’ to fuel their bacchanalian sex cult.” Well, that’s one way to subvert expectations.
For good measure, Reinhart also tweeted a response to her nearly 3 million Twitter followers. “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, kids,” it began. “And news sources should try a little harder to be less vile. ‘Reliable sources’ can kiss my ass.”
August 2019: Further clarifying that maybe these two were never broken up in the first place, Reinhart posted an ultra-romantic poem for Sprouse’s birthday. It read:
I tried to find a poem
that I could send to you.
Because my words were failing me.
But I searched and found nothing that did you justice.
All of these love poems can’t get it right.
No one else’s words could ever fit.
They haven’t known the fortune it is to love you. -sappy nighttime birthday poem for @colesprouse
During a red carpet interview with Entertainment Tonight, Sprouse was asked if he was bothered by reports of a breakup. “Incredibly,” the actor said, adding, “No, I don’t care. That’s the nature of our industry. I think you have to poke fun of it a little bit. It’s kind of something you sign up for, but as long as can keep it light and fun, it’s all good.”
The world’s collective head has been spinning over what to brand this couple (and if they should be mourning all of Sprouse and Reinhart’s heartfelt Instagrams). Last week, Reinhart wrote, and then deleted, a comment on an Instagram of Sprouse. It read: “Sources say he’s single now- is he available?” If only we knew the answer to that one.