• Newsfeed

A Brief History of Drake and Rihanna’s Non-Relationship Relationship

11 minute read
Updated: | Originally published: ;

Drake and Rihanna’s chemistry-laden relationship has always left fans wondering whether the 6 God and the Barbadian beauty are more than just friends.

However, thanks to two collaborative tracks this year, Aubrey and Robyn have been spending plenty of quality time together — from making surprise appearances at each other’s concerts to sappy social media posts, Drake and Rihanna make a convincing case that their friendship might not be platonic.

Here, a comprehensive review of their non-relationship relationship.

May 2009: Rihanna and Drake are allegedly spotted making out at Lucky Strike in Manhattan, as reported by Page Six, who discloses that their source spotted Rihanna “drinking whiskey and apple juice and making out with him all night.” No photos, but this was the first time that Rihanna and Drake have been linked together romantically.

November 2009: Rihanna tells radio personality Angie Martinez during a Hot 97 interview that she and Drake are strictly friends. “We weren’t really sure what it was,” she said. “We just went out — my friends, his friends.” Ri Ri seems pretty intent on making sure that Aubrey Drake Graham knows he’s in the friend zone.

January 2010: In a fill-in-the-blanks XXL interview, Drake says, “people thought I was dating Rihanna and that was…” with “semi-true.”

May 2010: The second verse on Drizzy’s song “Fireworks,” which leaked before the release of Thank Me Later seemed to address Rihanna with these lyrics: “I could tell it wasn’t love, I just thought you’d f-ck with me / who could’ve predicted Lucky Strikes would have you stuck with me? / What happened between us that night it always seems to trouble me / Now all of a sudden these gossip sites wanna cover me / and you making it seem like it happened that way because of me / but I was curious and I never forget it, baby, what an experience / you could’ve been the one, but it wasn’t that serious.”

June 2010: A New York Times profile reports that Drake and Rihanna, “began seeing each other regularly, though they never publicly confirmed their brief relationship.” It also reported that the singer asked him to write a song for her new album. The song he wrote for her, however, never got released and he spoke in less than glowing terms about their relationship. “I was a pawn,” he said. “You know what she was doing to me? She was doing exactly what I’ve done to so many women throughout my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear. I was like, wow, this feels terrible.”

October 2010: Drake’s feelings might have been hurt by Ri’s lack of demonstrative affection, but it didn’t stop him from hopping on her dreamily romantic track, “What’s My Name?” The accompanying music video shows the pair canoodling in New York City, engaging in couple-y activities like ordering takeout Chinese, presumably for a Netflix-and-chill session; things even get so heated that they memorably spill milk in a Lower East Side bodega.

January 2011: Drizzy name-checks Rihanna and shares his not so subtle admiration for her while appearing on Rick Ross’ “Made Men,” saying she’s “one of my baddest women ever, I call her Rihanna / But that’s cause her name is Rihanna.”

February 2011: Drake and Rihanna perform together at the 2011 Grammy Awards, which gave us truly epic photo opportunities, such as this, despite not giving us definitive proof of any kind of relationship.

The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show
Drake and Rihanna perform onstage during The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at [f500link]Staples[/f500link] Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)Kevin Mazur—WireImage

November 2011: Rihanna is prominently featured on Drake’s title track on Take Care.

April 2012: In the accompanying (and intensely intimate) “Take Care” video, Rihanna and Drake exhibit more of their electric chemistry.

June 2012: FDrizzy and Chris Brown allegedly get into a physical altercation in NYC that ends with Chris having a gash on his chin (which he thoughtfully documented for us all in a now-deleted Instagram). No hard evidence exists that this occurred because of one Robyn Fenty.

April 2013: Drake confirms to radio program “Keep It Thoro” that his beef with C. Breezy is because “At one point in life, the woman he [Chris Brown] loves fell into my lap.”

August 2013: Drake and Rihanna are spotted having dinner for two in NYC at Sons of Essex before the MTV Video Music Awards, which sets tongues wagging as to their relationship status.

September 2013: Drake appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where he opens up to Ellen about his relationship with Rihanna. “Yeah, great girl, we had our moment. Always support and have love for her.” Notice that Drake talks about Rihanna in the past tense; does this mean that Drake’s longtime obsession with Rihanna is finally over?

February 2014: Despite his interview with Ellen, it looks like Aubrey isn’t quite over Ri yet. Drizzy tells Rolling Stone that Rihanna is his “ultimate fantasy,” going so far as to tell readers that he often ruminates on what could have been. “I mean, I think about it. Like, ‘Man, that would be good.'”

Later that month, Rihanna joins Drake on-stage during a concert in Paris where they perform their song “Take Care” together.

After Page Six reports on the alleged love triangle getting tense between Rihanna, Drake, and Chris Brown during the Paris trip, Chris Browns’ rep tells Page Six that “[Chris] is focused about his recovery. He only wants the best for her and is happy that she found someone.”

April 2014: Drake releases “Days in the East,” which samples Rihanna’s hit, “Stay,” and insinuates that everyone’s favorite sensitive rapper might have poured out his woes about Rihanna to the queen of relationships, Erykah Badu. The incriminating lyrics include: “Remember one night I went to Erykah Badu house, she made tea for me / We talked about love and what life could really be for me / She said, “when that sh-t is real, you just know” / And I was thinkin’ ’bout you, you already know.”

July 2014: Drake and Chris Brown appear to make amends when they appear in a skit with the always adorable Blake Griffin for the 2014 ESPY Awards. No word from Rihanna on the peace treaty between her two rumored associates.

May 2015: Drake and Rihanna are spotted getting cozy at Coachella after his performance, an interesting act for a pair that claims that they’re just friends; while Drake may have gotten smooched from Madonna during his set, hanging out with Rihanna was probably the highlight of his time at the festival.

September 2015: Drake shows off some new ink that bears a striking resemblance to Rihanna. Note to Drizzy: tattoos of a significant other do not always have the best track record; case in point: Johnny Depp’s “Winona Forever,” which later became “Wino Forever.”

November 2015: Rihanna tells Vanity Fair that her last “real, official boyfriend” was none other than Chris “Breezy” Brown. So where does Drizzy factor into all of this? Apparently, to Rihanna, he doesn’t.

January 2016: Drake and Rihanna team up again for “Work,” her catchy dancehall-flavored hit off of ANTI.

February 2016: The video for “Work” drops, a journey through Toronto’s Caribbean favorite, The Real Jerk; to the delight of “Aubrih” fans everywhere, the video is propelled primarily through Rihanna whining on a bewildered Drake.

Interestingly enough, however, Rihanna tells Ellen DeGeneres that month that she is “single right now.”

Later that month, it’s discovered that Audrey put a picture of Rihanna in his restaurant in Toronto, Fring’s; super fans conclude that it is the same image that he allegedly got tattooed on his arm.

At the end of the month, Drake makes a racy appearance at Rihanna’s BRIT Awards performance; the pair deliver a white hot performance complete with plenty of twerking.

March 2016: Drake shows up to perform with Rihanna in Miami, telling the crowd that Ri is “the real queen.”

April 2016: Drake joins Riri for her concert in his hometown of Toronto, calling her “the greatest woman I’ve ever known in my entire life.” Later that month, Rihanna is heard on Drake’s track, “Too Good” on his album, Views.

May 2016: Drake hosts Saturday Night Live! where he impersonates Rih and then insists that they are “only friends,” despite their increased chumminess following the release of “Work.”

June 2016: Drake steals a kiss on Rihanna’s neck while making a guest appearance at her Manchester, U.K. show; for two people who claim to be just friends, they seem to meet up a lot.

July 2016: Rihanna appears at OVO Fest in Toronto; after performing “Too Good,” together, Drake tells the crowd that Rihanna is “way too good to me.”

August 2016: Ahead of the MTV Video Music Awards, where Rihanna is receiving the channel’s Vanguard award, Drizzy decides to declare his well-documented affection for her to the world by taking out a billboard congratulating her. Rihanna captions it, “when he extra!” which is probably the most apt statement anyone could make about Drake’s affection.

At the MTV VMAs, Drake presents Rihanna with her Video Vanguard Award; in his speech, he bares his heart to both her and the VMA audience, revealing that he is in love with Ri Ri. “She’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old. She’s one of my best friends in the world. All my adult life, I’ve looked up to her even though she’s younger than me.”

After delivering this heartfelt and highly vulnerable sentiment, Aubrey Drake Graham boldly attempts to passionately kiss Rihanna, at which point, she curbs him and allows him to chastely kiss her on the cheek. After pulling away, it looks very much like Rihanna mouths something to him quickly after he has professed that he has loved her for eleven years.

However, Drake wanted to let us all know that he and Rihanna are really truly more than just friends after being publicly shut down at the VMAs, so he posted an Instagram after the debacle of him kissing her in his hometown of Toronto.

A few days after the VMAs, while clubbing in Miami, Rihanna is spotted by TMZ, stroking Drake’s face in a manner that some might consider affectionate or romantic, even. Aubrih watch continues.

At Drake’s Miami concert on Aug. 31, Rihanna finally fulfills the desires of Aubrey’s heart by planting a kiss on him. Is this real life? Is it performance art? Is this Rihanna trolling us all, including Drake? Only time will tell.

February 2017: Although our boy Aubrey has been romantically “linked” to one Jennifer Lopez in recent months, that rumored romance couldn’t keep him from wishing Rihanna a very happy birthday during a concert in Dublin on February 20, 2017. During his sappy shoutout, he crowd, “It’s somebody’s birthday today — somebody I have a lot of love for and a lot of respect for,” before playing their hit dancehall-flavored single, “Work.” Looks like the feelings are still there — at least for Drizzy.

April 2017: Drake and Rihanna have their first documented run-in at a kids’ birthday party in Los Angeles and it’s just as predictably awkward as you think it would be, with both Aubrey and Robyn appearing to avoid any interaction with one another in a brief video captured at the event. Breaking up, even if rumored, is hard to do.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com