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Are idols allowed to have girlfriends?

Quick Answer

There is no definitive rule stating whether idols are allowed to have girlfriends or not. Many entertainment agencies discourage idols from publicly dating to preserve their “available” image for fans. However, attitudes are slowly changing and idols are starting to speak more openly about having relationships. Ultimately, the idol’s management company has the final say about whether dating will be tolerated.

Are Idols Contractually Forbidden from Dating?

Idol contracts, especially among the larger Korean entertainment companies, tend to include “no dating” clauses. This is done primarily for marketing purposes – the company wants to sell the fantasy of fans having a chance with the idol. They don’t want the idol to be seen as “taken” by the general public.

However, these clauses are not always enforced. There are idols who secretly date, often revealing their relationships only after they expire. The “no dating” rule is more of a strong suggestion rather than a binding contract. If the idol and their partner are discreet and do not cause a scandal, the company may turn a blind eye.

Why Are Idols Discouraged from Dating Publicly?

There are a few key reasons why companies discourage idols from publicly dating:

Maintaining the Fantasy

As mentioned, labels want to preserve the idea that fans can fantasize about being with the idol. Idols are marketed heavily based on their good looks, charm, and personality. Their “availability” is part of the appeal.

Avoiding Backlash from Fans

Strongly devoted fans may feel jealous or betrayed if they find out their idol is dating. There have been cases of fans boycotting groups or turning against members who date publicly. Companies want to avoid any damage to the band’s popularity.


If details of an idol’s relationship leaks without proper context, it can create scandals that hurt the idol’s career. Even if the dating is innocent, the public may make assumptions and spread rumors. It’s easier to avoid this type of gossip if idols don’t date openly at all.

Attitudes are Slowly Changing

While “no dating” clauses were once very common, attitudes have shifted in recent years. Some entertainment companies are becoming more lax about idols dating, especially with older idol groups. Several factors have contributed to this change:

Maturing Idol Groups

As idol groups grow older, banning dating becomes less practical and more unnatural. Fans also mature and become more understanding of their idols wanting relationships.

Weakening Fantasy

The public fantasy of “owning” idols has weakened over time. Fans are more likely now to appreciate idols for their performance skills rather than imagine a personal relationship.


Enforcing no-dating policies has resulted in backlash from fans who feel idols should have personal freedoms. Younger fans especially criticize the practice.

Visibility of Idol Relationships

Despite bans, idol relationships inevitably surface. When this happens, the public outrage tends to be milder, signaling that attitudes about dating idols are changing.

What are Some Cases of Idols Revealing Relationships?

While not all idols openly discuss their relationship status, some have chosen to reveal the truth to fans. Here are a few notable cases:

Kang Daniel

Former Wanna One member Kang Daniel admitted to secretly dating TWICE member Jihyo in 2019. After the news broke, Daniel posted a handwritten apology to fans for hiding his relationship.

Kai and Jennie

EXO’s Kai and BLACKPINK’s Jennie confirmed dating rumors in early 2019 by announcing they were in a relationship. They received tons of support from fans. However, the couple split later that year due to busy schedules.

Sulli and Choiza

In 2014, former f(x) member Sulli surprised everyone by going public with her relationship with rapper Choiza, who was 14 years her senior. She received criticism for this, but insisted she should be able to date freely like anyone else her age.

Uee and Lee Sang Yoon

After Korean actress Uee and actor Lee Sang Yoon confirmed their relationship in 2017, Uee said she understood why idols wanted to date secretly but didn’t think it was right to hide. She said idols “have the right to date freely.”

Do All Entertainment Companies Forbid Dating?

Not all companies take a hard line stance against idols dating. There are a few labels that give a bit more freedom:

JYP Entertainment

JYP has stated that while idols should be cautious about dating, a “no dating” policy would be difficult to enforce as idols get older. Members of TWICE and GOT7 have been allowed to publicly date without repercussion.

Big Hit Entertainment

While Big Hit had a no dating policy in BTS’s early years, they have since loosened restrictions. V and Jungkook have alluded to personal dating lives. Big Hit denied Hyuna and E’Dawn after their relationship was uncovered, but did not take action against them.

Pledis Entertainment

Pledis announced they removed dating bans in late 2020. They said idols should have the freedom to pursue relationships as it is a natural desire. Since then, NU’EST members Minhyun and Aron have publicly dated.

Company Dating Stance
JYP Cautious, but not banned
Big Hit Recently relaxed rules
Pledis Removed bans

Do Male Idols Have More Dating Freedom?

In the past, male idols generally had more freedom to date publicly than female idols. The standards were more strict for women. However, this gender gap has narrowed considerably in recent years.

Public acceptance of dating is now similar for male and female idols – dating bans are easing for both men and women. While male idols still tend to have more dating rumors, female idols are speaking up about their right to date publicly without backlash. Fan attitudes are also becoming more evenly accepting regardless of gender.

Dating Double Standards

Previously, male idols dating was seen as natural, while women dating was seen as improper. This reflects old gender norms in South Korean society. However, modern fans have been vocal about criticizing this double standard. Times are changing – both male and female idols should have personal relationship autonomy.

What are Some Tips for Idols to Date Secretly?

For idols who wish to keep their dating life private, there are some tactics that can help keep a relationship hidden:

  • Date someone who is not a celebrity – This avoids media attention
  • Don’t go on public dates where you may be photographed
  • Keep your phone calls and texts private
  • Don’t post any couple pictures on social media
  • Deny dating rumors if questioned by the media
  • Avoid telling anyone in the industry about the relationship

Following rules like this require discipline and commitment for the relationship to stay under wraps. Dating another idol or someone in the public eye makes secrecy near impossible.

What are Signs that an Idol Might be Secretly Dating?

While idols are skilled at keeping relationships private, there are some clues fans pick up on that indicate an idol might be discreetly dating someone:

  • Vague mentions of “someone” or “that person” in interviews or on social media
  • Declining to discuss relationship or dating history questions
  • Sudden strong interest in dating-related questions from fans
  • Mentioning how lonely they are without providing details
  • Getty overly excited when asked about ideal types or dating
  • Being spotted leaving unknown apartments or homes

Subtle signs like this are sometimes the only way fans can detect an idol is dating before any official announcement. However, fans should be careful not to make assumptions or spread rumors based solely on vague suspicions alone.

Do Idols End Up Mostly Dating Other Idols?

Relationships between idols in the industry are fairly common. Since they understand the lifestyle and stresses of promoting in an idol group, they can relate well and keep each other’s secrets. According to polls and insider accounts, most idols date someone in the industry at some point.

Pros of Dating Another Idol

Some benefits idols find in dating fellow idols include:

  • Easy to keep relationship private
  • Can empathize with busy schedule
  • Both have a public image to maintain
  • Travel in same social circles and have mutual friends

Cons of Dating Another Idol

There are also downsides to idols dating each other:

  • If revealed, it can create a bigger scandal
  • Rumors can spread easily within the industry
  • Jealousy between fan groups
  • One or both idols may have dating bans
  • Breakups can lead to awkwardness professionally

So while it’s common, dating within the idol sphere has to be handled very cautiously and privately.

Do Entertainment Companies Make Idols Date Secretly to Keep Options Open?

This has been a rumor in the past – that companies banned dating so they could pair up idols for “scandal” relationships later. However, this seems to rarely be true for a few reasons:

  • Forced dating almost never stays secret and results in backlash
  • Idols would likely switch companies if their dating life felt manipulated
  • Fans usually can tell when dating news is fabricated
  • Companies face reputational damage if revealed as making false relationships

Rather than conspiring secret matchmaking, agencies likely just want to avoid issues that public dating can create. Genuine relationships between idols do sometimes happen, but are usually not orchestrated.


While bans on dating were once very common, the culture is slowly changing to accept idols having public relationships. As both idols and fans mature, there is understanding that having a fulfilling personal life and a successful career are not mutually exclusive. That said, some labels do still discourage idol dating to avoid fan backlash. Overall the situation is improving, but idols looking to date still must exhibit caution and good judgment to avoid potential scandals or contract violations. With attitudes relaxing, we will likely see more idols stepping out publicly with partners in the future.