The following are characters who have, at one point or another, been romantically involved with Ian Beale.
Obsession with success has been an underlying theme with the character for almost the entire duration of the show, but the acceleration of Ian's nasty side can be traced back to his disastrous first marriage to one of EastEnders' most renowned women, Cindy Beale in 1989. The storyline centred on Ian's discovery that the child he thought was his (Steven), was actually his best friend's. The climax of this revelation was known to script-writers as the "Devon cottage climax" and aired in September 1990. The episode saw an enraged Ian trace Cindy and Simon Wicks to her parents' house in Devon, just after being released from hospital following a failed suicide bid. The script, written by Debbie Cook, led to a confrontation that EastEnders' writer Colin Brake has suggested contained elements of tragedy and farce. Brake suggests that a particularly memorable scene included Ian furiously throwing bricks through the window of the house, followed by one of his crutches. The episode ended ominously with Ian finding Cindy's father's shotgun and stealing it. Directed by Matthew Evans, Brake suggests that these episodes not only brought the story to a shocking climax but also laid roots for the next three months' worth of storylines, building up to Cindy and Simon's departure, and Ian's spectacular fall from grace.
Author Dorothy Hobson has described Ian and Cindy's relationship as "one of the most tempestuous in any soap opera". The characters were reunited on-screen in 1992 but the relationship ended in adultery once again when Cindy began an affair with Simon's brother David Wicks, which culminated in Cindy hiring an assassin to shoot Ian in 1996 after he discovered the affair. Michelle Collins who played Cindy commented in 1996, "[Cindy] was not thinking properly when she contacted the hitman, and she is being quite erratic. Despite what she has done she never expected Ian to be so cruel to her. Now she cannot really see any other way out of the mess she is in. She has lost touch with reality – but in the end she can't see any other way of escaping Ian." More than 18 million viewers tuned in to see Ian gunned-down, which was more than sixty-four per cent of available viewers. The plot facilitated Collins' desire to leave the programme following the birth of her child, and Cindy, implicated in the shooting, fled the country with Ian's two sons