For the most part, celebrity relationships seem to start off pretty similarly: in secret.
It’s understandable. So much of a star’s life is consumed by people they don’t know. It’s only natural to want a bit of privacy as they’re falling for someone. This seems to have been the route Rita Ora and Taika Waititi planned to go down, but all that got derailed when they went viral last year for kissing. Well, to be specific, Rita and Taika were kissing each other while also kissing Tessa Thompson. The Daily Mail captured and published photos of their three-way kiss in Sydney and, after being locked inside for nearly all of 2020, this 2021 moment circulated in record speed.
Speculation about Rita and Taika’s romance started up two months before in March 2021, but this kiss really set things off. Was Taika instead dating his Thor: Love and Thunder co-star Tessa? Were all three in a throuple?
Turns out, they were just having fun and Taika described the kiss as pretty chill. “I think in the world of the internet, everything goes away pretty quick,” Taika told the Sydney Morning Herald. When he was asked about whether the attention the kiss received made him uncomfortable, he said simply, “No, not really. I was doing nothing wrong. It’s fine.”
Since then, Rita and Taika have gradually shared more about their relationship with fans, posting photos from Taika’s birthday party, attending the Met Gala together, traveling the world, taking romantic pics strategically placed in the middle of Instagram photo dumps, and sharing Valentine’s Day tributes. Most recently, Taika’s been trolling Rita’s bikini photos on Instagram by correcting her grammar. And if you know anything about celebrity dating, once the public trolling happens, you can assume they’re in it for the long haul.
Body language expert Karen Donaldson agrees. She analyzed the couple’s recent photos (sans Tessa) and described what each gesture means for this blossoming relationship. These pics may not have gone as viral as those others, but when it comes to determining the strength of a relationship, how a couple moves is worth just as much attention.
1: They’ve got no walls up between them.
“In this image, Taika pulls Rita in towards him,” says Donaldson. “This is a full-body, high-attraction hug.” When couples stand head-to-head and chest-to-chest you’ll know they have an intimate connection—one that allows for total vulnerability.
“The cluster of gestures tells us that they are emotionally connected,” Donaldson adds. And all that touching is a good sign for their physical intimacy, too.
2: Being near each other—even without touching—is a biggie.
Rita’s legs being crossed away from Taika wouldn’t typically be a good sign. Also, Rita and Taika aren’t touching, and they’re both looking elsewhere.
Thing is, couples (thankfully) don’t need to be all over each other to communicate their love. So, Donaldson focuses on the things you might not notice.
The pair are clearly playing it up for the cameras, so you’ll see humor and playfulness are part of this relationship. “Taika is down on one knee, and his knee is in close proximity to Rita’s leg,” Donaldson points out. “This is telling us that, no matter what is going on, he seeks to be closer to her.” Plus, that difference in levels speaks to Taika’s admiration for Rita.
3: Taika wants to protect Rita, who feels safe with him.
“You can tell that Rita is precious to Taika,” says Donaldson. “We can see it in the manner that he holds her around her waist and places his other hand in front of her in a shielding type manner.”
And, on Rita’s end, having her hand in her pocket signals ease. This is “showcasing that she feels safe in his presence,” says Donaldson.
4: They’re bonded by a shared sense of humor.
“Rita blankets Taika’s body with this hug, as he leans back into her,” Donaldson says. They’re “cuddling on the move,” she adds.
“This signals that there is oneness in their relationship,” explains Donaldson. They maintain their intimacy without taking themselves too seriously. Fun and being together are priority.
5: Rita’s feet placement reveals exactly how she feels about Taika.
He can’t resist making her laugh. Grabbing a snap of Rita on the red carpet as if he was paparazzi is Taika’s way of showing her (and everyone else) how important she is to him.
“And although Rita is looking slightly above Taika’s head as she poses for the cameras, her body language tells us this is exactly where she wants to be,” says Donaldson. “If you look closely, Rita’s toe is pointed directly at Taika. And when your feet are pointing toward someone, it often means that you are attracted to or interested in that person.”