Shakira’s breakup with soccer player Gerard Piqué, 32, was another unexpected element of the past two years.

The famously low-profile couple, who met in 2010 and made their relationship official in 2011 before breaking up earlier this year, were often considered one of the better celebrity pairings in the spotlight.

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When it came time to announce their split, they only told E! News: “We regret to confirm we are partying ways. For the well-being of our children, who are our highest priority, we ask that you respect their privacy. Thank you for your understanding.”

However, through their 11 years together, where they raised two sons, Shakira and Piqué were never actually married.

The reasons for this could go back to the beginning of Shakira’s career, when she was married at the age of 23, to a lawyer named Antonio de la Rúa, who happened to be the son of then-Argentine president Fernando de la Rúa.

Although Shakira and de la Rúa were married for 10 years, their relationship ended on a sour note as de la Rúa, who was also Shakira’s business manager, sued her for $250 million dollars in damages related to his managerial work, according to Celebs Haunt.

Now, fans are looking back at some of Shakira’s previous interviews to understand the reasons behind her particular arrangement with Gerard Piqué.

Take Shakira’s “60 Minutes” interview, for instance, where she said: “To tell you the truth, marriage scares the shit out of me. I don’t want him to see me as the wife. I’d rather him see me as his girlfriend.” For Shakira, taking marriage out of the equation kept the relationship fresh. They were together by choice instead of being bound to one another by marriage.

She continued, “His lover, his girlfriend. It’s like a little forbidden fruit, you know? I wanna keep him on his toes. I want him to think that anything’s possible depending on behavior.”

However, Shakira let the “H word” slip on a podcast called “Welcome to Planet Weirdo with Holly H,” where she said: “My poor husband, slash boyfriend, slash baby daddy, whatever you want to call him.” Labels clearly weren’t important to Shakira and Piqué while they were together, and it’s interesting to see just how interchangeable the labels are for her.

Where so many celebrity relationships feel manufactured for the cameras, Shakira and Piqué were happy to be who they were away from the spotlight, doing things on their own terms, which is what fans loved about this partnership.

That freedom clearly extended to how their relationship functioned, with no need for the complications that come with being married as two independently successful people.

In 2013, just two years into their relationship, Shakira opened up about how difficult it is to be a mother to US Weekly. During that interview, she referred to her relationship with Piqué, and the appreciation she feels to have had him as a partner, saying: “He’s the kind of dad who’s full hands-on… I can’t imagine doing all of this and not having the father do his part of the job. So that’s a huge help to me.”

One year after that interview, in 2014, Shakira told Glamour: “We already have what’s essential, you know? We have a union, a love for each other, and a baby. I think that those aspects of our relationship are already established, and marriage is not going to change them. But if I’m ever going to get married, he’s the one.”

We must also take into account her prior marriage to Antonio de la Rúa, which ended after 10 years with a $250 million dollar lawsuit.

The two had no kids together and were entrenched in a professional relationship in addition to a personal one, with him also working as her manager and lawyer. In a lot of ways, Shakira seems to have had a closer, more intimate bond with Piqué despite them never being married at all. They had already accomplished so much together that being married felt like an unnecessary addition to something that was already perfect.

Then, there’s Piqué himself, who, as a guest on The Overlap podcast, once said: “I like it how we are right now. We have two kids… we work good as a couple. We don’t have the need to be married, it’s fine.”

Unfortunately, their relationship has come to an end, but it seems like they had a strong, balanced, and successful union when they were together, and had the kind of relationship that everyone pictures when they think of their perfect match… even without being married.