The best thing about friendships is its unpredictability. We don’t usually require our friends to check off boxes in the same way we might a potential spouse or significant other. Plus, they’re never duty-bound to spend time with us in the way family members sometimes seem to be. At best, friendships are resilient, contentful, and provide mutual happiness for both parties.

Best of all, there are zero rules about who you can and can’t be friends with. In Hollywood circles, as in the rest of the universe, unexpected friendships are bound to form. Before Ed Sheeran was the superstar songster he is today, you might have found him in L.A. performing in smaller gigs and building up his reputation. Oh, and becoming close friends with Courteney Cox, a woman 27 years his senior. The rumors briefly flew, of course, but friendship doesn’t tend to care so much about the paparazzi.

Courtney and Ed began living together within weeks of knowing each other

The most epic friendships tend to form by pure chance. It took a little bit of a coincidence for Courtney and Ed to come across each other as well. In detailing how he was acquainted with Courtney, Sheeran said that TV producer Bill Lawrence and his wife, actress Christa Miller, brought their daughter backstage to one of his shows back in 2013. The following day, he ran into them again. “Next day, I happened to be having lunch in the same restaurant and they said would I like to come to a party that night?” he recalls. “It was at Courteney’s house.”

Cox had been working with Bill Lawrence and Christa Miller at the time in their hit show Cougar Town. Sheeran went, hit it off with Cox, and the next thing you know, she was inviting him to live in her Malibu home rent-free. Looking back, Sheeran said:

There was no rent, but I made the bed and cups of tea and things like that. If you’re staying at your friend’s house, you should treat it like your own

He lived there for three months. Due to their close living situation, the media began assuming that they were involved romantically, especially since Courtney had only recently divorced David Arquette. Of course, it was mostly the gossip columns that tried to propagate this rumor — Ed and Courtney were completely unconcerned by the tabloids and focused on getting to know one another better.

Their friendship has allowed them to find both professional and personal success

Though Sheeran had already had some real success in the music industry—particularly with his 2011 album “+” — he is quick to credit Cox with helping him reach the very top. Even though he wasn’t yet world-famous, Cox appears to have had real faith that he would make it big. She wanted to wholeheartedly support his journey. During the time she let him stay in her home, Sheeran was able to write several songs for his second album “×.” She provided him with the perfect environment in which he could be creatively inspired and continue building his album. At the same time, Cox also introduced Sheeran to some of her major celeb friends, such as Jennifer Aniston—who Ed also managed to strike a friendship with.

Sheeran has paid back Cox’s generosity beyond simply making a good cup of tea. For all the suspicious souls out there who thought that the pair were, in fact, a secret May-December type couple, Ed actually introduced Courtney to her significant other, Snow Patrol band member Johnny McDaid.

While Sheeran was still living with Cox, McDaid—a friend of Sheeran’s who he’d had once toured with—came over to write music. in explaining the match-up, Ed said:

I think I did the ‘Courteney meet Johnny, Johnny meet Courteney’ thing…It’s just two people who fell in love and I hope they’re really happy.

While Ed certainly doesn’t want to take the credit for the meeting, Cox nonetheless insists on acknowledging Ed for making it happen. She said, “We are certainly grateful to Ed for introducing us.” Just months after meeting, the couple announced their engagement. Though they briefly called it off in 2015 because they couldn’t agree on where to live.

Cox has since explained the situation, saying, “We broke off our engagement, and he moved to England, then we got back together, and it’s actually better than it was before.” The two continue to be a hot item today; the only thing is that she lives in L.A. and he lives in London. It might be a long-distance relationship but as long as it works for them, nothing else matters. It’s a lot like strong friendships that manage to beat all odds and continue to work in spite of the distance, age, or fame.

There are no rules in friendship

Courtney and Ed still continue to hang out to this date. Sheeran became an adopted member of Friends and has been spotted hanging out with Cox and Aniston many times in recent years. Notably, in 2018, he was spotted out on a double date with Cox in West Hollywood— the gossip sites loved it. He was seen with his fiancée at the time, pro hockey player Cherry Seaborn, who has since become his wife and the mother of his child.

One thing’s for sure: Cox and Sheeran remain close friends and have nothing but wonderful things to say about one another and their unique friendship. When speaking about Courtney’s warm demeanor, Ed
said :

[Courtney’s] from Alabama so it’s bred into her, but everyone she surrounds herself with is the same. Jennifer Aniston’s just as friendly. I’d only ever experienced the darker side of Hollywood and they give you faith in everything.

Bottom line: friendships don’t have to be surface-level traditional or convention in order to be fulfilling. On the contrary, the best friends are often those we feel we can relate to on an instinctive level. They are the folks that unexpectedly elevate the quality of our lives without us even realizing it. So you need to cherish those special friends and express your gratitude to them however you see fit.

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