Love Island’s Maura Higgins and TOWIE’s Joey Essex had been “getting to know each other” prior to their Pride Of Britain Award kiss.

Joey Essex and Maura Higgins sent reality TV fans into a frenzy last week after sharing THAT steamy kiss at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards – and then taking a taxi home together.

Joey Essex and Maura Higgins are ‘smitten’ after secret dates

Joey Essex and Maura Higgins are 'smitten' after secret dates
(Image: Instagram)

Love Island’s Maura, 31, and TOWIE’s Joey, 32, had been dating for weeks before they made headlines with their award show PDA.

“Joey thinks Maura is the one for him. He’s smitten with her – and she’s smitten with him. They were secretly seeing each other before the awards and feel they’ve met their soulmates. They couldn’t take their eyes off each other that night and couldn’t hide their feelings.” said our source.

Joey, who has previously dated TOWIE co-star Sam Faiers, Made In Chelsea’s Stephanie Pratt, and Love Island’s Ellie Brown, believes Maura is his “ideal” woman, according to our source.

They also revealed that Joey and Maura were flirting on social media prior to last week’s star-studded bash at London’s Grosvenor House.

“They’ve been keeping it quiet until now because it’s early days,” our source said. “They’re still getting to know each other but they make each other happy.

“Joey has wanted a girlfriend for a long time. He’s very flirty but he’s never been able to find the right girl. Maura, meanwhile, has always gone for the wrong guy – and Joey has come along at just the right time.”

The revelation comes just weeks after Joey told new he was tired of casual dating and set on finding “The One”.

“I’ve been there and done that with having minor flings,” he said. “If I’m going to have a proper, serious girlfriend in the spotlight, and she’s going to be welcomed into my family and my life, she’s got to be The One.”

Joey, who is currently training for the ITV reality show Dancing On Ice, even stated that he expects his next girlfriend to be the person with whom he will “have children.”