Kim Kardashian and Kanye West: How They've Supported Each Other Through Ups and Downs of Their Relationship
By Antoinette Bueno
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Harper's Bazaar
Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West have definitely been through a lot when it comes to their highly publicized relationship. Amid recent concerns over Kanye's current mental health -- and Kim continuing to support him while drawing attention to the stigma and misconceptions about mental health -- let's take a look back at their love story and all the highs and lows when it comes to their careers and family life.
2003: Kim and Kanye meet and go from friends to lovers.
"He was recording a song with Brandy, and I was her friend," she shared. "I vividly remember hanging out with him and then they did a video together, so I'd see him a few times. He was asking his friends: 'Who is this Kim Kardajan?' He didn't know what my name was."
Though they didn't start dating until 2012, the rapper has made it clear that he's always had a big crush on the reality superstar, even when she was primarily known as Paris Hilton's assistant.
"I just knew I wanted her to be my girl for a long time," Kanye told Ryan Seacrest in a 2013 interview. "I remember I saw a picture of her and Paris Hilton, and I remember telling my boy, 'Have you seen that girl Kim Kar-dijon?'"
Since meeting, Kim and Kanye continued to date other people while keeping up their friendship. In 2008, Kanye asked her to be in a hip-hop puppet show called "Alligator Boots" -- which was canceled by Comedy Central before ever airing -- in which she dressed as Princess Leia, while he played a Stormtrooper.
"I just dreamed about being next to her," Kanye told Kris. "I keep saying it... I don't want to start jumping up and down on the couch or anything."
"I could have people saying, 'This is going to damage your credibility as a artist or as a designer,' and I say, 'I don't care, I love this woman,'" he also told Kris about dealing with all the scrutiny he got when he initially started dating Kim. "I'm saying I'm being with this person because, you know, I love this person. She's worth it to me ... she's my joy, and she brought my new joy into the world, and there's no paparazzi, no blog comment, and there's nothing that's gonna take that joy from me."
Meanwhile, Kim shared on the KUWTK anniversary special that she started dating Kanye shortly after ending things with Humphries.
"After my breakup, I was feeling really low and down and he said, 'Just come to Paris and see my fashion show,'" she said. "He jokes that he put on this whole fashion show just to get a date with me. So I went there and I stayed with him, and that's where we started dating. I swear from the moment I landed, I fell madly in love with him and I thought, 'Oh my god, why didn't I do this sooner?’ Like, this is what real life is like -- love and fun and real support."
In 2016, Kim shared adorable footage of what she also called their "first date" -- playing "Heart and Soul" together on the famous piano at the now-closed New York City toy store FAO Schwarz.
December 2012: Kanye announces that Kim is pregnant.
Kanye excitedly revealed that Kim was pregnant with their first child together during a concert in Atlantic City on Dec. 30, 2012, referring to Kim as his "baby mama."
Kim later confirmed the big news on Twitter, paying tribute to both Kanye's late mother, Donda West, and her late father, Robert Kardashian.
"It's true!! Kanye and I are expecting a baby," she wrote. "We feel so blessed and lucky and wish that in addition to both of our families, his mom and my dad could be here to celebrate this special time with us. Looking forward to great new beginnings in 2013 and to starting a family. Happy New Year!!! Xo."
During the KUWTK anniversary special, Kim said North's pregnancy wasn't planned and that she "randomly got pregnant." She said the happy surprise was initially a cause for panic, and recalled calling Kanye to tell him the news.
"I remember calling him and he thought a family member had died because I was so hysterical," she said. "I thought my life was over, [because] I was pregnant. It was so hard for me. Obviously, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me."
"My mom had me at like 23 or 24 -- she had my sister at 22. My dad was a bit older -- he was like 36 when he had me," she noted. "But I thought they knew everything. Before I had kids, I remember just thinking like, 'Wow, they had it so together. Am I ready?' But you're never ready," she said. "I say that to all my friends."
"Me in my 30s, Kanye [West] was in his 30s, and I'm like, If we're not ready now... I mean, this is pathetic. So we're going for it," she continued. "And it just happened -- I was so freaked out. I was like, I thought my life was over. I was just so not a parent. I literally thought my life was over."
June 2013: Kim gives birth to daughter North.
Kim gave birth to the couple's first child together, daughter North, on June 15, 2013. She's been candid about suffering serious birth complications during her first pregnancy. In a video for her shapewear company, SKIMS, Kim said that North weighed only four pounds at birth and came almost six weeks early. After the birth, Kim then suffered from a condition called placenta accreta, meaning her placenta wouldn't come out following her delivery.
"That is what women die from in childbirth," Kim said.
"Literally, he is the most romantic person I've ever heard of," she later told Vogue about his proposal. "The lights go on and they start playing my favorite Lana Del Rey song, 'Young and Beautiful' from The Great Gatsby. It just reminds me of us."
"[Marriage] is something I know that we both want in our future, but I don't have this sense of urgency about it," Kim previously told Cosmopolitan in their February 2013 issue. "I have this best friend who understands me and helps me through all my tough experiences, and vice versa, you know? It just feels like this is it for me."
November 2013: Kim stars in Kanye's "Bound 2" music video.
Kim and Kanye landed the coveted cover of Vogue magazine for the April 2014 issue, which featured Kim in a wedding dress and Kanye embracing her from behind. Kim excitedly tweeted about the accomplishment, writing, "This is such a dream come true!!! Thank you @VogueMagazine for this cover! O M GGGGGG!!! I can't even breathe!"
Kanye gushed about Kim to the magazine, calling her a "dream girl."
"I'm really into fantasy, as you know," Kanye told the magazine. "I'm obsessed with Walt Disney and Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki. Kim is like a fantasy, period. She's like a dream girl. And I think a dream girl should live in a dream world."
"Once you get a wifey, your wifey basically runs your life," he added. "Everything you do is based on wifey. It's really interesting that we're on the front lines of a few different concepts at the same time. You've got the interracial thing. You have mega-media and mega-art crash. You have, you know, the Vogue and reality show combination. There's a lot of new frontiers being broken in 2014."
May 2014: Kim and Kanye get married in Florence, Italy.
Kim and Kanye tied the knot on May 24, 2014, in a ceremony held at Forte di Belvedere, a 16th-century Italian fortress. Kim stunned in a Givenchy lace wedding dress, and her Instagram picture of them kissing in front of a floral wall broke Instagram records at the time.
Kim and Kanye became a family of four when they welcomed son Saint in December 2015. Kim struggled with the same complications during the birth of Saint that she did while giving birth to North, and Kim later revealed that she had to have multiple procedures to help her body recover from the trauma.
"I actually had to have five different operations within a year and a half to fix the damage that all of that did from the inside," she revealed in a SKIMS video. "But on the outside, I was filming and photo shoots and, you know."
Though she wanted to have more children, her doctors urged her to avoid another pregnancy.
"I asked my doctors, 'Can I do it one more time?' And they were like, 'We won't even put an embryo in you, that would be, like, malpractice,'" she said.
June 2016: Kim stands up for Kanye during Taylor Swift feud.
"She totally knew that that was coming out," she claimed about Taylor. "She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn't. I swear, my husband gets so much s**t for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved."
"She said, 'When I get on the GRAMMY red carpet, all the media is going to think that I'm so against this, and I'll just laugh and say, 'The joke's on you, guys. I was in on it the whole time,'" she continued to claim. "And I'm like, wait, but your GRAMMY speech, you completely dissed my husband just to play the victim again."
Taylor's rep responded to the article in a lengthy statement, which read in part, "Taylor does not hold anything against Kim Kardashian as she recognizes the pressure Kim must be under and that she is only repeating what she has been told by Kanye West. However, that does not change the fact that much of what Kim is saying is incorrect. ... Kim Kardashian's claim that Taylor and her team were aware of being recorded is not true, and Taylor cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, will not just leave her alone."
When the full video of Kanye and Taylor's call was released earlier this year, it showed that the rapper never told her he would be calling her a "b**ch," which is the word she took issue with.
October 2016: Kim gets robbed at gunpoint in Paris.
Kim went through a harrowing experience in Paris, France, in October 2016, when she was robbed and tied up at gunpoint at a luxury apartment. About 10 pieces of jewelry worth an estimated $11.2 million total was stolen from her. A source told ET at the time that she was "absolutely traumatized" by the incident.
"When the incident happened, [Kim] was half asleep and was woken up so abruptly," the source said. "She was on little sleep to begin with since getting to Paris. She still hasn’t fully been able to comprehend what happened. She heard really loud footsteps in the apartment coming up to the second floor, where she was sleeping. She picked up her cell but wasn't able to call [bodyguard] Pascal [Duvier] in time before one of the guys grabbed it out of her hand and she realized what was happening. It was absolutely horrific."
"None of them spoke English, so she couldn't communicate with them," the source continued. "All she kept saying over and over is 'I have kids. Take anything you want. Please don't kill me. Please don't kill me.'"
The source said Kim was very emotional after the robbery.
"The scariest part for her throughout this experience is the fact that it could have been a lot worse, and she couldn’t imagine what that would have been like for her children," the source said. "The kids have no idea what’s going on, thankfully."
"The situation with my wife in Paris and feeling helpless," he said. "I went to Paris on that trip to protect her -- not to protect her physically, but to go and help her with her look because she's in Paris. One of the things that she heard was they were coming to rob her, but they had to wait until I had left."
"All these things were set up to put me on meds," he continued. "The robbery, I don't know where that came from. Was that a bigger plan, a bigger setup?"
November 2016: Kanye is hospitalized after suffering a breakdown and Kim remains by his side.
"He pushed himself too much," the source said. "The Paris incident unsettled everyone, [but it] unsettled him the most. He had this anxiety that everyone around him was trying to get him."
"This is a person who tried to take on everything, and everyone around him tried to make him calm down and he just didn't," the source continued. "He didn't sleep at all. The hallucinations came in with lack of sleep and everything was heightened. There was a huge difficulty with being able to differentiate what is real or what is manifested by anxiety, and that's why there was this concern -- him not being able to acknowledge what is happening in real life."
"Kim is more dedicated and devoted to Kanye more than ever," the source said. "She knows that there are limitations for how much a person can do or take on. She knows that he just needs a break, and she will make sure he gets that. This is only making their marriage stronger. Kim is the type of person who steps up in these kinds of situations. She stays so calm, collected and takes control. This is the perfect scenario for her to really make a difference for Kanye. She's been incredible."
"I think we're in a pretty good place with it now," she said. "It is an emotional process, for sure. Right now everything is really calm. But we can definitely feel episodes coming, and we know how to handle them."
"For him, being on medication is not really an option, because it just changes who he is," she continued. "Traveling a lot does set it off, so he doesn't travel as much as he used to. But honestly, I never want to speak for him, because I am not in his mind."
She also fought back against criticism she faced from fans who accused her of not helping him during what appeared to be episodes.
"But I think some of the hurtful things that I read online . . . . What is she doing? She's not stopping him. . . . Like it's my fault if he does or says something that they don't agree with?" she argued. "That's my husband. I share every opinion that I have and let him know when I think something's wrong. Or if it comes to him being in the middle of a bipolar episode, I'll do everything to be supportive and help to calm the situation."
She acknowledged that his outspokenness when it comes to his political views also used to greatly affect her.
"I can be sitting there crying: OH, MY GOD! TAKE OFF THE RED HAT! Because he really is the sweetest person with the biggest heart," she said. "I stopped caring, though. Because I used to care so much. I was making it such an issue in our relationship. And in my life. It gave me so much anxiety."
January 2018: Kim and Kanye welcome daughter Chicago via surrogate.
After Kim's extremely difficult two pregnancies, the couple welcomed their daughter, Chicago, via surrogate, in January 2018.
"My home and my heart feel really full right now, in the best way," Kim told Elle in May 2018, before revealing that having four children would be her max. "I don't think I could handle more than that. My time is spread really thin. And I think it's important that in all couples, the mom gives the husband as much attention as the kids."
May 2018: Kanye says he thought Kim would leave him after saying slavery was "a choice."
Fans began to speculate about Kanye's mental health when he appeared on TMZ Live on May 1, 2018, and among other controversial statements, said slavery was "a choice."
"When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice," he said. "You was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? We’re mentally in prison."
"There was a moment where I felt like after TMZ, maybe a week after that, I felt like the energy levels were low, and I called different family members and was asking, you know, ‘Was Kim thinking about leaving me after TMZ?'" he revealed. "So that was a real conversation."
In his song, "Wouldn't Leave," off his album Ye, he goes further into detail about Kim's reaction to his headline-making appearance.
"Build your own'—I said, 'How, Sway?' / I said, 'Slavery a choice'—they said, 'How, 'Ye?' / Just imagine if they caught me on a wild day / Now I'm on fifty blogs gettin' fifty calls / My wife callin', screamin', say, 'We 'bout to lose it all!' / Had to calm her down 'cause she couldn't breathe / Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn't leave," he raps.
For her part, Kim has defended Kanye's questionable behavior before. After his Twitter rant in April 2018, in which he talked about a 2024 presidential run, Kim took to Twitter to fight back.
"To the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this... your commentary on Kanye being erratic and his tweets being disturbing is actually scary," Kim wrote. "So quick to label him as having mental health issues for just being himself when he has always been expressive is not fair."
Kim added that her husband is a "free thinker" and that the backlash that he's received is "just not fair."
"He's actually out of the sunken place when he's being himself which is very expressive," she tweeted. "Kanye will never run in the race of popular opinion and we know that and that’s why I love him and respect him and in a few years when someone else says the same exact thing but they aren’t labeled the way he is and you will all praise them! Kanye is years ahead of his time."
May 2019: Kim and Kanye welcome son Psalm, completing their family.
In May 2019, the couple welcomed their fourth child, Psalm, via a different surrogate than the woman who carried Chicago.
"Kim and Kanye feel complete with the addition of their newest son," a source told ET at the time. "Kim has always wanted a big family, and this expansion has filled her and Kanye with so much happiness. The couple is enjoying this special moment as a family and taking the time to fully embrace each new moment that comes with this new chapter."
May 2019: Kim and Kanye have a private vow renewal ceremony.
In an episode of KUWTK, Kim revealed she and Kanye privately renewed their vows as a celebration of their fifth wedding anniversary just days after welcoming Psalm.
"I just want to plan something special and take charge of this," Kim said in a solo interview. "So, I thought, let's just do something fun and sweet in our backyard and just make more of a memory."
For the special day, Kim pulled out all the stops and brought together her entire family. She even wrote her own vows this time, which read in part, "You are my husband. You are my best friend. My biggest believer and my one true love."
"I think it's so special that all four of our kids are here," Kim said, adding that she also tried to get everyone who was in their wedding party to come out for the occasion. "I'm excited everyone is coming over."
January 2020: Kanye praises Kim's "dream" life.
Known for his extravagant presents to Kim, Kanye topped himself with a thoughtful necklace he gave his wife in January, which in part praised her work in criminal justice reform. In a selfie, Kim showed off a gold necklace with a large rectangular charm that has small writing on it. Kim explained the significance of the gift in an accompanying tweet, writing, "If you look closely at my necklace, you can see it's from a text Kanye sent me."
"He took an amazing vintage Cartier gold plaque necklace and had it sketched out," she continued. "He’s always the most thoughtful when it comes to gifts."
Kim also shared a screenshot of the text message that inspired the necklace, which read, "This your life. Married with four kids. Get people out of jail. Cover of Vogue. Go to church every week with your family. Dreams come true."
If you look closely at my necklace, you can see it’s from a text Kanye sent me. He took an amazing vintage a Cartier gold plaque necklace and had it sketched out. He’s always the most thoughtful when it comes to gifts ✨ pic.twitter.com/zmzUq4zXer
Of course, Kim hasn't been doing bad either. In June, Forbes reported that Kim had sold a 20 percent stake in her makeup business, KKW Beauty, to Coty for $200 million. She also has her own successful shapewear line, SKIMS. Forbes estimated her net worth at $900 million.
In her Wealthsimple essay, Kim talked about how she was raised when it came to money.
"The way that my parents taught me was, 'Hey, when you’re 18, you've seen this lifestyle, I'm sure you're going to want to upkeep it. If you’re going to want to live this way, you're going to have to get a job,'" she recalled. "I don't know if it will be the same for my kids. It's a different time. I don't know if I'm going to do that. I'd have to discuss that with Kanye."
Kim said she and Kanye discuss how to raise their children to appreciate their privileged lives "all the time."
"I worry about giving my kids too much," she said. "We don't do gifts. They have to really earn it. But we talk about it all the time, about not getting too much and just trying to be as grounded and well rounded as possible."
July 2020: Kanye sparks concerns over his mental health amid presidential run, as Kim is "completely devastated."
In a Forbes interview, Kanye outlined details of his campaign and shared his stance on some of today's major topics. He came out as being pro-life, anti-Planned Parenthood and as an anti-vaxxer. Kanye also said he plans to run as a member of the "Birthday Party" and said he no longer supports President Donald Trump after publicly wearing a Make America Great Again hat and hugging the president at the White House. As for potential Democratic candidate Joe Biden, he said he was "not special" and that he envisions a White House modeled after the fictional country of Wakanda from Black Panther.
"Kim will always support Kanye, but she doesn't have to always agree with him, and that's what makes their relationship special," the source said.
"The family is supportive of Kanye's plan to run for president but they don't agree with his recent interview," the source added. "Kanye's family will always support him in his endeavors but they also worry for him. Kanye has a tendency to overwork himself physically, emotionally and mentally and not take time to rest and reset."
Kanye again made headlines due to his presidential campaign rally in South Carolina earlier this month. During the event, Kanye tearfully said that he and Kim discussed the possibility of her having an abortion while she was pregnant with North. He also shared his fear that Kim might divorce him following his emotional speech.
A source told ET that Kim was "upset" following some of the comments Kanye made during the event, and that his friends and family were worried about him.
"Kanye isn't in a good place and isn’t listening to anyone trying to talk him into getting help," the source said. "Kim is upset with Kanye for his rants, especially talking about the possibility of having an abortion and not giving birth to North. She knows this is something North will see when she gets older and that's heartbreaking."
"At the end of the day, people close to Kanye want him to end this presidential run now before he does more damage to himself, his brand and the family," the source added.
"Kim tried to bring a doctor to lock me up," Kanye tweeted.
"Kris, don't play with me," he also wrote. "You and that calmye are not allowed around my children. Ya'll tried to lock me up."
The source said that Kim "has been trying to get Kanye help for his recent episode but he’s refused it."
"Kim has always been public about everything in her life, but with Kanye and him being bipolar, she has always respected to keep that more private and within the family," the source said. "Kanye tweeting about the family and painting her as trying to 'lock him up' has upset Kim because that wasn’t her intention and she only ever wants the best for her husband."
As Kanye continued to worry fans over his tweets, a source told ET on July 22 that Kim is focusing on their kids.
“Kim is going through a lot, but she's staying strong for their children," the source said. "Kim wants to help Kanye and has extended numerous avenues to do so but he's not responding to it and seems to get more upset when she or anyone close to her tries to help. Kim is taking this time to make sure her children are happy and not involved in anything that's going on. Kim is surrounded by her family and they've been strong for her."
July 2020: Kim speaks out about Kanye's bipolar disorder.
"As many of you know, Kanye has bi-polar disorder," the message reads. "Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand. I've never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I am very protective of our children and Kanye's right to privacy when it comes to his health. But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health."
"Those that understand mental illness or even compulsive behavior know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor," the message continues. "People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual themselves have to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard family and friends try."
Kim called her husband "a brilliant but complicated person."
"I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions," she writes. "He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of being an artist and a Black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words sometimes do not align with his intentions."
She concluded the message by asking for compassion from others.
"Living with bi-polar disorder does not diminish or invalidate his dreams and his creative ideas, no matter how big or unobtainable they may feel to some," she writes. "That is part of his genius and as we have all witnessed, many of his dreams have come true. We as a society talk about giving grace to the issue of mental health as a whole, however we should also give it to the individuals who are living with it in times when they need it the most. I kindly ask that the media and public give us the compassion and empathy that is needed so that we can get through this. Thank you for those who have expressed concern for Kanye's well being and for your understanding."
A source told ET on July 22 that Kim has no plans to divorce her husband of six years.
"Kim is going to do what she's always done and stand by Kanye during a difficult time," the source said. "Kim is not planning to divorce Kanye right now. If Kim wanted to divorce him, she'd just file, but she's not planning to at this time."
According to the source, as Kanye supported Kim through her toughest time, she wants to do the same for him.
"Kanye was there for Kim during the Paris robbery, he dropped everything to be right by her side," the source noted. "That's the guy Kanye is and that's the guy Kim loves. Kim is there for Kanye and although right now he doesn't want her by his side, she's ready to drop everything for him when he's ready."
For more on Kanye and Kim's relationship, watch the video below: