When Did Liam Payne & Cheryl Fernandez-Versini Start Dating? The Two Have Been Friendly Since 'X Factor'

Well, well, well. It seems like One Direction's Liam Payne definitely has someone special to keep him company as he kicks off his 1D hiatus. The 22-year-old singer has been dedicating some posts to his new girl on social media, and now that Liam Payne and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, 32, (who goes by the mononym Cheryl, and previously Cheryl Cole) have stepped out in public together, it seems like this relationship is happening and is very real! The couple were all smiles as they dined at Salmontini restaurant in London, looking very couple-y with their matching black ensembles. This seems to have happened fast, so I wonder how and when Liam Payne and Cheryl start dating.

If you are a One Direction or Liam Payne fan, you have probably watched his first X Factor audition in 2008, when he was only 14 years old. Cheryl, then 24, was a judge on the panel during this audition, and admitted that she thought he was cute and had a lot of charisma. It wasn't until 2010 that he returned to X Factor again — this time he ended up being paired with his One Direction band mates — and Cheryl was already a fan, telling him, "You've definitely got it, whatever it is that you've got it, and I thought your voice was really, really powerful."

According to a source who spoke to The Sun , the two became closer friends in recent years "after Cheryl signed with 1D’s management company Modest and because of their mutual connection to boss Simon Cowell." As evidence of their friendship, in August 2014, Cheryl posted an ALS Bucket Challenge video with her first nomination being Payne. It probably didn't seem like much back then, but he was on her mind.

A source continued to The Sun, "Cheryl has obviously known Liam for many years. They’ve always got on well because they are both northern and share many of the same interests. But there was never anything romantic between them in the past." That certainly changed in the past few months, especially following his October 2015 break up from girlfriend Sophia Smith and Cheryl's split from husband Jean-Bernard. The Sun source claimed that their relationship status changed to something more romantic around December of 2015 after 1D performed on X Factor prior to their hiatus.

A few weeks later, Payne was already posting Valentine's Day dedications to a special someone, and soon followed those with a couple's selfie and an adorable International Women's Day post. Payne sure looks very smitten!

Well, I think this couple has Simon Cowell and X Factor to thank for bringing them together over and over again throughout the years, and now that they're official, they both look happier than ever.