updated 07/05/2013 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/05/2013 AT 4:30 PM ET
“It’s very real – they’re both in love, which is rare for him,” the source tells PEOPLE of the couple who were together over the holiday in Austin, where they spent time with pals from Ready for Love. “They’re always traveling together. His family likes her a lot … they’ve never seen him so taken by someone.”
The duo met last year when he was cast in the reality show Longoria, 38, produced. They shot down rumors that they were dating this spring, but Longoria admitted this week that their friendship eventually blossomed into something more – and the source says it could potentially be something permanent, despite their failed relationships in the past.
“Eva is a firm believer in marriage,” says the source. “Ernie may be a player when he is single, but he’s never cheated on anyone and is very religious. I think the fact that he’s so family oriented is what got her.”
“My guess would be they’ll be married within the next year,” the source added.
On paper, the duo are a perfect match. They both speak Spanish, have successful careers and have a passion for philanthropy, which they recently demonstrated when Longoria accompanied Arguello, 34, to his native Honduras to visit the school he built in his community, and to see the homes he has built for impoverished families.
Plus, they are both committed to religion and family. He has already been introduced to her family in San Antonio, and Longoria has earned a thumbs up from the Arguello clan, perhaps in part for her unpretentious nature.
“Eva is so down to earth, she doesn’t ‘act famous’ at all,” says the source. “He is definitely not dating her because she is famous … they’re not a Hollywood couple. They’re very real and very in love.”