Not many Disney couples could claim to have a longstanding, successful relationship. One of the rare (and perhaps only) duos was Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler. The couple originally met on the set of 2006’s High School Musical but officially started dating five years later in 2011. Following the shocking news of their recent breakup in January 2020, here’s a breakdown of their eight-year relationship.
2005: According to the Daily Mail, Hudgens and Butler actually met on the set of High School Musical, when Hudgens was dating her co-star Zac Efron. The two remained friends, however, until jumping into a romantic relationship years later.
September 2011: The first indication that Hudgens and Butler were an item came in 2011 when he was seen leaving her home in Los Angeles. That same week they were also caught kissing over some milkshakes at a Bob’s Big Boy. (Hudgens and Efron ended their four-year relationship in 2010.)
An insider told People that “they were together but in a large group. They were not doing anything to show that they were really together romantically, but they were definitely hanging out and having fun.”
January 2012: In the beginning of 2012, Hudgens and Butler were spotted on a Disney double date, dining in Los Angeles with actress Danielle Panabaker and her boyfriend.
February 2012: The couple’s first red carpet appearance, and perhaps confirmation of their coupledom, came the following month, where they posed for photos at the premiere of Hudgens’ film, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
April 2012: In April, the couple became Coachella official. One onlooker told People, “They held hands the entire afternoon. They were extremely lovey-dovey.”
August 2012: A few months later, they hit up Outside Lands in San Francisco where another source reported on how “totally in love” the couple appeared.
“She seemed to be having the time of her life. You could tell that she’s really into music and felt good having her boyfriend by her side,” the source told People. “She would make cute little faces at him, and he would just stare at her, looking totally in love.”
September 2012: The next month, Hudgens and Butler took an Italian vacation, attending the Venice Film Festival. The Daily Mail reported that the couple “made out like a couple of teenagers” during a dinner the city.
May 2013: The couple was still going strong in May of the following year during a trip to Vegas.
“The couple was very cute together,” a partygoer told People. “They were seen dancing a lot throughout the night. They were sipping on cocktails and being cuddly and affectionate and were spotted kissing non-stop throughout the evening.”
December 2013: Years into their relationship, Hudgens made it Instagram official in December 2013. She posted a group shot of her Hillsong church pals, including Butler, writing: “We may be rowdy but man we have fun. Love these people with all my heart. Thanks @hillsong for my new home.”
August 2014: She was a little more straight-forward in a post that next August when she wished Butler a happy birthday. In the caption she gushed, “Yesterday was the love of my life’s birthday. Happy birthday to the man with the kindest heart, beautiful soul, crazy talent and best looks I’ve ever seen. He never stops inspiring me in every aspect of life and always lifts those around him up higher. I thank god so greatly for blessing the world 23 years ago by creating Austin Butler.”
September 2014: Butler’s mother, Lori, passed away the following month after a battle with cancer. Hudgens retweeted Butler who wrote, “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 added her own note, writing, “I miss you already mama. #ripLoriButler #celebrateLori Spread the love for Lori.”
August 2015: In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Hudgens opened up about her four-year relationship with Butler.
“It’s important to put that other person first,” she said. “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.”
A few days earlier, Hudgens showed up for the first time on Butler’s Instagram in a caption-less post showing the sun drenched actress out in nature.
February 2016: In February 2016, just hours after revealing that her father had died of cancer, Hudgens was scheduled to perform in Grease: Live. She went on with the show, saying her performance was “in his honor.”
Butler tweeted out his support for his girlfriend during the show writing, “WOW @VanessaHudgens singing ‘Worst Things’ had me in tears. Just brilliant.”
A couple of weeks later, however, the couple were in hot water over a visit to Sedona, where they were accused of carving their names and a heart into one of the red rocks, which Hudgens posted (then deleted) on Instagram. An investigation was opened by the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest. Hudgens later paid a $1,000 fine for the incident.
July 2016: In July the couple jetted off back to Italy where the they documented the vacation on Instagram.
Later that month Hudgens’ best friend and fellow High School Musical alum Ashley Tisdale gave her support for the couple.
“I mean, it’s great because Austin was my best friend since way before they got together,” she told People. “So it’s just nice to have your two best friends be in a relationship.”
March 2017: In 2017, Butler was in New Zealand filming MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles and Hudgens was not quiet about their long-distance relationship. In March she posted a photo of them kissing along with the caption: “Missing this guy. #mcm #longdistancesucks”
She opened up to People on how they continued to make their relationship work.
“Just communication, communication is key,” she said. “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.”
December 2017: Since the pair have been together for so long, the rumors of an engagement have naturally followed. After posting a photo showing off a new haircut, Hudgens’ followers instead focused in on a ring on a certain finger. She later tweeted the photo and cleared the air.
“Guysssss. I’m not engaged! I posted a pic. Not to show off my ring that I happened to throw on that finger after a long day of filming but to show off my haircut Lol.”
July 2018: In July 2018, Hudgens recapped some of her favorite Instagram photos for People, including one of the couple celebrating Butler’s first Broadway show.
“The floor is blurry for some reason, I don’t know how that happened, but our faces are in focus,” she said. “And we’re standing on the stage—his first Broadway stage! I’m just so proud.”
December 2018: Toward the end of the year, Hudgens gushed about her relationship with Butler during an interview with Entertainment Tonight at the premiere of her film Second Act.
“I mean, my date nights usually don’t consist of as many cameras and more clothes. Not freezing normally,” she said. “He’s a wonderful supporter, though. I’m happy to have him here. I think it’s so important to have a person who is your rock.”
February 2019: On Valentine’s Day this year, Hudgens shared a photo of her and Butler celebrating their relationship with the caption: “7 years strong.”
Later that month they attended the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, walking the red carpet together.
April 2019: The Coachella-loving couple attended the festival together in the spring. Hudgens shared a photo of them enjoying a show writing, “SO OBSESSED WITH THIS PIC FROM CHELLA.” The couple that Chellas together, apparently, stays together. (Or so this one did.)
July 2019: Hudgens shared a rare kissing shot of her and Butler on her Instagram to mark International Kissing Day. “Well a day late but happy #internationalkissingday ?❤️,” she captioned it.
Later that month, news broke that Butler would play Elvis Presley alongside Tom Hanks in an upcoming film. Ever the supportive girlfriend, Hudgens shared an article of the news with the caption, “I AMMMM OVERRRR THE FUCKING MOOOOOOOOONNNNN. I CANT WAIT ?????? SO PROUD OF MY HONEYYYYY!!!”
She also shared a clip from her performance as Rizzo in Grease Live! where her character makes a sly reference to Elvis.
Hudgens was also on hand for the premiere of Butler’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. She shared photos of the couple before the debut of the movie, in which Butler plays a member of the Manson clan.
August 2019: Butler and Hudgens also made an appearance at the Unicef Summer Gala. She shared a stunning sunset photo of the pair to Instagram captioned, “You know it was a good night when this was the end of it. But not before some pasta and rose to watch the sunrise with ?”
Chic photos of the pair traveling Italy also graced Hudgens’ IG feed.
And when Butler’s 28th birthday rolled around, Hudgens shared a sweet post for her partner. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY ???? to my love, my other half, my constant Inspiration and supporter. My best friend. My everything✨ @austinbutler ✨28 is going to be ???” she captioned a pair of photos with the couple.
September 2019: The following month, Hudgens curbed her relationship content somewhat. However, she did gush over Butler’s Man About Town cover.
October 2019: Throughout the month, Hudgens shared throwback photos of herself and Butler in Halloween costumes.
On Halloween, she posted what would become their final IG photo together. Hudgens captioned a photo of herself, Butler, and their dog, Darla, “??happy Halloween from my family to yours?.”
January 2020: After spending the holidays apart and not appearing together on social media in months, Us Weekly reported the couple’s split on January 14. A source told the outlet, “Vanessa and Austin are officially broken up, and Vanessa has been telling those close to her about their breakup.”
Although neither Hudgens nor Butler have confirmed the split, she recently opened up about relationship difficulties in an interview with Cosmo UK. “It’s eight years this year–FaceTime, good communication, respect and trust [are what keep us going],” she said about their often long-distance romance. “The longest we’ve been apart was four months. It sucks! You start hating hearing yourself say ‘I miss you.’ But if it’s your person, you make it work.”