This summer is certainly making a name for itself as the season of love: Between the speedy engagements of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson and also Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin, something romantic definitely seems to be in the celebrity air. Further evidence is recent news that stunned OG Disney Channel fans everywhere: Nearly 17 years after the release of Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge, actors Kimberly J. Brown and Daniel Kountz—AKA Marnie and Kal—not-so-subtly let the world in on their IRL romance, showing us that platonic love really can evolve into something more.
On International Kissing Day, Brown posted an Instagram of her locking lips with Kountz—which fueled a whole lot of heart-eyed emojis from commenting fans who, back in the day, shipped the actors’ onscreen characters hard. The two worked on the iconic holiday flick when she 16 and he was 22, but there’s no word on when they officially started dating. While they’ve been in plenty of photos together over the past year, as you can see from Brown’s Insta feed—including a particularly on-brand snap of the pair in a couple’s Halloween costume—this might be a case of a longtime close friendship recently turning into more. And according to one relationship expert, that dynamic is hard to beat when it comes to lasting romance.
“Relationships are about getting through good and bad times together, teamwork, trust, respect, being there for each other, enjoying time together, great communication, and accepting each other. You’re probably already doing that if you’re best friends.” —Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist
When you first meet someone, much of your energy is devoted to getting to know each other, but when you’ve been best friends for a big chunk of your life, a lot of the foundation new couples have to build already exists. “Relationships are about getting through good and bad times together, teamwork, trust, respect, being there for each other, enjoying time together, great communication, and accepting each other. You’re probably already doing that if you’re best friends,” says New York–based psychologist Paulette Sherman, PsyD. “You have the advantage of knowing each other’s families, defenses, dreams, strengths and weaknesses, major life events, and of having a shared history. Your desire to create a life together is not merely based upon idealization, fantasies, and hormones.”
If this expert intel doesn’t have you looking at your childhood BFF in a new light, just wait. Dr. Sherman adds that relationships usually become more about friendship after one to three years This means that if you’re friends first, you already have a leg up—and knowing each other on that much-deeper level can be key to your spark’s survival. “Many early marriages falter from disillusionment because there’s such a discrepancy between the idealization phase and then seeing who that person really is. If you’ve known each other a long time, you don’t have to deal with that sudden shift in the same way,” she says.
At this point, Brown and Kountz have already been through a lot together—including, you know, being mortal enemies in the film. The bond they’ve strengthened over the years gives them a great chance at making it, especially since it’s clear that their IRL love is way more powerful than any onscreen spell.
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