Three months ago, rumors swirled that
actress Eva Longoria was dating Miami-based
entrepreneur and philanthropist Ernesto
Arguello. While it wasn't true at the time, it
is indeed the case now, the actress tells
"I think that's why our relationship is so
special – we truly started as friends,” says
Longoria, 38, who met Arguello, 34, last year
when he was cast in Ready For Love, the
reality dating show she produced. (Arguello's
romance with his pick , former Miss USA
Shandi Finnessey, ended in 2012.)
While the show aired this spring, buzz swept
Hollywood that the two were an item.
However, it wasn't until recently that their
friendship turned romantic.
“I guess we have the press to thank for
pushing us to see something we didn't see!"
jokes Longoria, who just returned home from
a trip to Nicaragua where she was
introduced to his entire family.
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“Eva and Ernesto are a perfect match," a
source close to the couple tells PEOPLE.
"They both speak Spanish, have the same
religion and the same cultural background."
And both have a passion for philanthropy.
Longoria recently accompanied Arguello to
his native country of Honduras to visit the
school he built in his community, and to see
the homes he has built for impoverished
"Their friendship and their similar
philanthropic interests laid the foundation for
their new romance," the source