A few weeks back, while perusing Twitter, I came across a photo of Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin kissing. In the midst of my surprise, I couldn’t help but chuckle, thinking to myself, “How funny is it that I tweeted about this very moment just a few days ago?” At the time, I hadn’t seen the photo, and neither had anyone else. Now that I have, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Is this just a quick peck on the lips or is it something more?”

If you’re wondering whether or not to believe the hype, here’s a primer on what exactly is going on.

The Photo

The photo in question features the British actor and his American actress girlfriend, kissing under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. To be fair, the two gave us a pretty memorable appearance at the 2014 Golden Globes, where they showed up to the award show wearing floor-length winter coats and matching snarls. The attention-grabbing moment was a far cry from the couple’s usual on-screen couple chemistry, which tends to revolve around achingly polite social interactions.

In light of that unusual on-screen dynamic, coupled with the fact that they’re generally considered one of Hollywood’s most attractive couples, the Internet immediately went into a tizzy trying to make sense of the photo. Within hours, the hashtag #KissingRomance was trending, and the frenzy hasn’t stopped since.

Some fans were in denial, while others embraced the opportunity to finally confirm their long-held suspicions about the nature of their favorite star’s relationship with Emilie. Most amusingly, a few people even went so far as to accuse the two of “stealing” kisses, as if a passionate bout of lip-locking were some sort of masterfully executed illusion. Maybe the most telling detail about the photo’s sudden and explosive meme status is that it was shared by none other than the actor’s brother, Charlie. While the elder Pattinson rarely gives interviews, it seems that this singular occasion was an exception. When asked about the photo on the “Today” show, he replied, “It was a really nice moment, but I don’t know, I think it would be really sad if this was the extent of it. I think they both really regret it now. They’re going to have to work a lot to fix things up.”

What’s Going On?

As the younger Pattinson stated, there’s more to this story than meets the eye. When Emilie de Ravin first tweeted the photo, she wrote, “I may or may not have just kissed Robert Pattinson.” To which he responded, “That was fast.”

Since then, the hashtag #KissingRomance has been used more than 11,600 times on Twitter, with the majority of the posts echoing the sentiments of the actors themselves. “It was a really fast, spontaneous reaction,” de Ravin explained to E! News, when asked about the photo. “I don’t know if we’ll ever really know what happened, but we certainly did have a moment.”

“A lot of people are saying that it was just a quick, flirty kiss. But we both really mean it,” she continued. “It was just this moment, and we’re both feeling a little bit awkward about it now. But we definitely want to keep things going. It was a fun night, and we just want to move forward.”

Emilie de Ravin has been dating actor Robert Pattinson for some time. While their on-screen chemistry is often described as “electric” and “fiery,” their personal life has been marked by a surprising amount of awkwardness. Since their first meeting, in 2011, De Ravin has gone on to become a more ubiquitous figure in the actor’s life, attending numerous premieres and award shows alongside their favorite leading man. For his part, Pattinson has also stepped up to the plate, regularly inviting his lady love to premieres and other important social events (she was most notably spotted at the 2013 Grammy Awards, where she sported a custom Emilie de Ravin Grammy hat).

While it may have begun as a publicity stunt, the hashtag #KissingRomance has grown to embody an entire subculture of online dating. On TikTok, where the trend originated, users swap stories of their own celebrity crushes, while many find joy in simply commiserating about the trials and tribulations of celebrity dating.

The Realities Of Stardom

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is simply a media frenzy. In the grand scheme of things, the photo is just a photo, albeit a heart-stopping one. The reality is that love stories like these don’t usually end well. For starters, the intense and often highly visible nature of celebrity dating means that a breakup is almost always a matter of time.

In the case of these two actors, it wouldn’t be a gross exaggeration to say that they’ve been the subject of an online love affair. As the “Today” show attested, their relationship began back in 2011, and shortly before the Golden Globe Awards last year, they were spotted holding hands at the Met Gala. Needless to say, their on-screen chemistry has not gone unnoticed, with fans regularly describing their on-screen romance as “mesmerizing.” While romance may very well blossom between these two, their tumultuous personal life is far from being over, as both continue to grapple with depression, anxiety and addiction issues. This is, after all, the world that we live in. The fame and fortune that come with stardom can be surprisingly destabilizing.

The Importance Of Privacy

Even for those who don’t believe that love can conquer all, the fact that these two were photographed kissing in front of a crowd of people is more than a little embarrassing. When asked about the photo’s implications by TMZ, Robert Pattinson’s lawyer released this statement: “Privacy is of the utmost importance to our client, and we are confident that he will be delighted that so many people want to share in this intimate moment with him. However, as his lawyer, we must advise him to be mindful of the details of this case and the nature of the allegations, which could potentially affect his personal life. It is our job to make sure that he is completely aware of the situation and what is going on.”

Given the potentially sensitive nature of their relationship, it’s not hard to understand why the actor would be so eager to keep details about this kiss a secret. Still, this is the world that we live in now. With so much attention focused on the celebrity couple, it’s likely that they’ll never get a chance to be alone again. As far as we know, they’re already planning their wedding. For those of us who love a juicy celebrity gossip story, it can be difficult to keep our mouths shut when the stars put their fingers on each other’s lips. Even if it means shaming ourselves, we can’t help but want to know the answer to that burning question. Just like Charlie said: It was a “really nice moment.” But maybe just a moment.