"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.
“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 families.
"Their friendship and their similar philanthropic interests laid the foundation for their new romance," the source adds. "They're very much in love."
Courtesy Eva Longoria