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Tom Holland And Zendaya Just Opened Up About Their Relationship For The First Time And Said It Was A “Confusing And Invasive” Experience When Those Paparazzi Photos Of Them Kissing Were Leaked And Went Viral

“The equal sentiment [we both share] is just that when you really love and care about somebody, some moments or things, you wish were your own.”

Posted on November 18, 2021, at 9:18 a.m. ET

By now, I’m sure you’re well aware that Tom Holland and Zendaya are basically the internet’s favorite couple.

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From their Instagram interactions to their red carpet appearances, pretty much everything they do sends fans into an absolute frenzy of love and adoration — and can we be blamed?

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Long before they appeared to confirm their romantic relationship back in September, all eyes were already on the costars as they shared the screen portraying one of Marvel’s most beloved fictional duos.

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And now, opening up about their relationship for the first time ever in a shared interview, Tom and Zendaya got brutally honest about the “downsides” of being one of young Hollywood’s most-talked-about power couples.

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But first, in case you need a reminder of how Tom and Zendaya came to be — allow me to give a brief rundown of how they went from costars to couple.

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Whispers of a romantic relationship between the two began when filming for Spider-Man: Homecoming first started back in 2016, with Zendaya and Tom debuting their respective roles as MJ and Spider-Man/Peter Parker.

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And if you’ve been a longtime fan of the Spider-Man cinematic universe, it’ll come as no surprise that the pair were very quickly bundled up in romance rumors. Seemingly following in the footsteps of previous MJ/Spider-Man iterations who actually went on to pursue offscreen relationships — yes, we’re talking about you, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.

Robert Marquardt

So, after months of constantly appearing on each other's social media accounts, hitting red carpets together, and even sharing magazine covers, People magazine finally gave fans what they wanted to hear, and at long last, it was reported in 2017 that Tom and Zendaya were officially dating — yay!

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But sadly things weren’t quite that simple, and Tom and Zendaya basically laughed the whole thing off and insisted that they’re simply just "best friends" and nothing more...for now.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

So a year goes by, and just as we’d finally come to accept that maybe the celeb romance of our dreams just wasn’t meant to be, Tom threw fans a real curveball in 2018 by hopping onto Instagram to share a tribute post for Zendaya’s Met Gala look.

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“All hail the queen,” he wrote, before proceeding to sprinkle a bit of we’re-just-friends coolness by adding, “killing it mate” — “mate” being the key word here.

Years passed and our hopes began to fade — that was until Page Six gave fans their biggest piece of evidence yet. Which brings us to ~those~ viral kissing photos.

Zendaya and Tom Holland watching the Internet break

Twitter: @Leah99304008

So, in case you were absent from social media at all in early July, the internet basically exploded this summer when photographs of Tom and Zendaya kissing in a parked car surfaced online.

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Given their PDA, many took these snaps to be pretty solid confirmation that, at long last, Tom and Zendaya were finally an item.

I see Tom Holland and Zendaya are a thing now

Twitter: @ScrubbWagon

However, at this point in their rumored romance, neither Tom nor Zendaya had had the chance to confirm the relationship on their own terms, which as Tom explained to GQ this week, was pretty upsetting for them both.

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“One of the downsides of our fame is that privacy isn’t really in our control anymore,” Tom said, seemingly addressing the leaked images for the very first time. “And a moment that you think is between two people that love each other very much is now a moment that is shared with the entire world.”

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It wasn’t until two months after the viral kissing photos were leaked that Tom and Zendaya were able to reclaim their control on the situation and seemingly confirm the relationship themselves.

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Much to fans’ delight, Tom marked Zendaya’s birthday on Sept. 1 by sharing a sweet selfie of the duo cozied up on the Spider-Man set, which he captioned: “My MJ, have the happiest of birthdays. Gimme a call when your up.”

Opening up about the whole thing now, Tom said that he and Zendaya felt they had been “robbed” of their privacy after the images surfaced online, before explaining that they had not been intending to go public with their relationship at that stage in the romance.

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“I’ve always been really adamant to keep my private life private, because I share so much of my life with the world anyway,” he said. “We sort of felt robbed of our privacy.”

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In response, the interviewer hinted that maybe Tom and Zendaya had not been ready to share their relationship with fans — perhaps in light of the years of intense speculation about their closeness — to which the actor responded: “I don’t think it’s about not being ready. It’s just that we didn’t want to.”

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And it’s no secret that, with the next installment of the Spider-Man franchise just around the corner, Tom and Zendaya’s relationship is about to find itself under the gaze of millions as they embark on a highly publicized global press tour — something which Tom seemed to consider with his next statement.

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“It’s not a conversation that I can have without her,” he said of their relationship. “You know, I respect her too much to say…this isn’t my story. It’s our story. And we’ll talk about what it is when we’re ready to talk about it together.”

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Speaking of whom, the lady herself later joined in on the conversation by phone to give her perspective on the public fascination that surrounds their relationship.

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Also speaking out about the romance for the first time, Zendaya said she found the whole thing — perhaps, more specifically the leaked kissing photographs — “confusing and invasive.”

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“It was quite strange and weird and confusing and invasive,” the Dune actor said, before going on to address their lack of privacy in a little more detail.

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“The equal sentiment [we both share] is just that when you really love and care about somebody, some moments or things, you wish were your own...” Zendaya added.

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She continued: “I think loving someone is a sacred thing and a special thing and something that you want to deal with and go through and experience and enjoy amongst the two people that love each other.”

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Interestingly, their joint interview comes just several months after the Euphoria star hinted that her dating life is something that she hopes to keep to herself.

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Gracing the cover of British Vogue’s September issue, the young star opened up about her refusal to have her first kiss onscreen in her days as a Disney Channel star.

“I remember being on Shake It Up and being like, ‘I’m not gonna do this. I’m going to kiss him on the cheek because I haven’t been kissed yet so I don’t want the kiss to be on camera,” the former child-star explained.

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The sentiment behind her childhood story could perhaps be applied to the invasion of privacy she was later faced with when photographs of her and Tom kissing were leaked to the public — which, we now know, happened just the day after her Vogue interview took place in July.

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So, while their sweet Instagram interactions might have initially given the impression that Tom and Zendaya were ready to take their romance to the main stage, their recent comments seem to indicate that they’re taking things slow for now.

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However, in the meantime, we can look forward to hopefully seeing this beloved duo grace the red carpet together sometime in the near future to celebrate the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home next month.

Mike Marsland

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.