It’s officially been confirmed that Liam Payne and girlfriend Cheryl are parting ways. The couple — who first went public with their romance in 2015 — announced their split on Twitter on Sunday, July 1st.
“Cheryl and I are sad to announce that we are going our separate ways,” wrote Payne, 24. “It’s been a tough decision for us to make.”
Mentioning their son Bear, who celebrated his first birthday on March 22nd, Payne continued, “We still have so much love for each other as a family. Bear is our world and we ask that you respect his privacy as we navigate our way through this together.”
At the same time, Cheryl posted a similar announcement on Twitter.
Payne and Cheryl’s romance owes its origins to the X Factor U.K. The pair first met while Cheryl was a judge on the show, and Payne a contestant, in 2008. The “Strip That Down” singer was paired with Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik on the reality competition series to create former boy band One Direction.
People confirmed the news that Payne and the former Girls Aloud member were expecting their first child in November 2016, with Cheryl officially announcing her pregnancy in February 2017. The same month that Bear arrived, Payne opened up about his lady love for the first time.
He added, “She’s been my dream girl since I was younger. She’s so ace.”
In an interview with The Sun in May 2017, Payne seemed to insinuate that the couple had no plans to wed, telling the outlet, “I see marriage as more of a religious thing and I’m not really a religious person.” He further told The Sun, “We have a baby together — you know, our love for each other can’t be more serious, so it is what it is I guess.”
As breakup speculation amped up earlier this year, it appeared the duo still supported each other. After Cheryl posted a photo of herself posing with a sign for the Prince’s Trust “Youth Can Do It” campaign on February 20th, Payne commented, “Very proud of you! How you find the time to do this [I’ll] never know.”
He continued, “Over many years you’ve put all this together and put your heart into such a great cause! I hope one day I can do the same.”
In March, Payne shut down rumors that the relationship was on the rocks, but admitted to ES Magazine that the couple faced “struggles.”
“The funniest thing was a week before we were getting married. The next week we’re splitting up,” he said of reports that the pair were putting on a “loved up display” at the 2018 BRIT Awards last month.
“And the thing for me is, I just like to think we’re somewhere in the middle. You know, we have our struggles — like of course I’m not gonna sit here and say that everything’s absolutely fine and dandy, because of course you go through different things, and that’s what a relationship is,” he continued. “But we go through them together as a family and that’s the most important thing for me.”
Payne said he wasn’t threatened by a rough patch in his relationship, saying, “tell me a relationship in the world that doesn’t go through a spot like that?”
Cheryl previously addressed gossip that they put on an act for the cameras during their recent appearance together on Twitter. “Your ‘stunt’ theories are just ludicrous and a bit weird,” she said in February.