When it comes to boy bands, these days, the world is obsessed with BTS, but from 2010 to 2015, it was all about One Direction. In 2021, six years after their 2015 “indefinite hiatus” announcement, the boy band still has one of the most passionate fanbases in the world, and with that comes a lot of rumors, theories, and speculation. One of the most enduring rumors of all is the fan theory that Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles are in love and in a secret relationship. The theory, which started in the early days of One Direction’s career, has followed Tomlinson and Styles until this day. They even received their own ship name, Larry Stylinson. It wasn’t until 2017 that Tomlinson finally addressed the situation himself, and he wasn’t exactly happy with the fan theory run rampant.
The fan theories behind Larry Stylinson were ultimately baseless, but shippers put together endless “evidence” in the form of edited tour videos and photos they insisted revealed the “true” nature of the pair’s close relationship. Fans who believed the theory analyzed their every move, and soon, countless Tumblr pages were dedicated to the fictional theory.
What was likely just a deep friendship soon became one of the most highly-speculated relationships in fandom. Even Zayn Malik spoke out about the Larry rumors. In a 2015 interview with Fader, he said the rumors negatively affected Styles and Tomlinson's friendship, as they felt they weren't able to show any kind of affection toward each other without fueling more conspiracies.
“It's not funny, and it still continues to be quite hard for them,' their bandmate said. “'They won't naturally go put their arm around each other because they're conscious of this thing that's going on, which is not even true. They won't do that.”
As much as Tomlinson tried to ignore the fabricated stories, it became hard to do so. He finally addressed the rumors head on in a July 2017 interview with The Sun. As he explained, the fabricated relationship put a strain on his friendship with Styles, as well as his relationship with his longterm girlfriend, Eleanor Calder.
“It kind of happened naturally for me and Harry because a certain amount of the fans drew up this conspiracy,” he said. “When it first came around I was with Eleanor, and it actually felt a little bit disrespectful to Eleanor, who is my girlfriend now. I'm so protective over things like that, about the people I love. So it created this atmosphere between the two of us where everyone was looking into everything we did.”
“It's a funny thing, people can believe what they want to believe,” Tomlinson continued. “But it's like anything – if you Google 'Conspiracy on iPhones,' you're going to get a conspiracy. So it's one of these things that people love to buy into, but in reality obviously there's no truth to it.”
Not only did the rumors take aim at his romantic relationship, but they stirred the pot with his entire family. Some fans speculated the arrival of Tomlinson’s son in January 2016 was a set-up to distract from the rumors surrounding him and Styles.
When promoting his self-titled studio album in May 2017, Styles spoke out about the Larry shippers. "I mean, I think people are always gonna speculate what songs are about,” he said during a radio interview with 106.1 BLI. "And I don't think I'd ever want to tell someone they're wrong for feeling what they feel about a song."
At the same time, he made it pretty clear the lyrics he’s written aren’t about Tomlinson. "I think if you really listen to the lyrics, I think you can work out if it's really about that or not," he added. "And I would lean towards no."
In 2019, things took an even more dramatic turn when HBO’s Euphoria took the Larry Stylinson fan-fic one step too far. The show included an animated sex scene between the bandmates in one episode, and fans were fuming after learning the 1D guys didn’t approve it beforehand. “I can categorically say that I was not contacted nor did I approve it,” Tomlinson tweeted on July 1 when asked about the scene.
Despite everything, Styles and Tomlinson will always have love for each other through the ups and downs of fame. When the band’s 10-year anniversary rolled around in July 2020, Styles couldn’t have said it better. “To the boys, I love you so much,” he wrote on Instagram. “I couldn’t be prouder of everything we achieved together. Tomlinson echoed the same sentiment, captioning the first photo the band ever took together, “The memories we've shared together have been incredible. Can't believe its been 10 years already. I look back incredibly proud. Thanks for everything lads.”
There’s no denying Styles and Tomlinson share a wonderful bond, which is why it’s even sadder their friendship isn’t what it once was because of all the unwarranted attention.
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