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“Big Brother” Season 23 stars Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss are dating.
The new couple confirmed their relationship on Thursday, telling Us Weekly that it started while both contestants were in the jury house this summer.
“I think that we both really felt the chemistry once we got to jury house and could really connect with each other,” Rehfuss, 25, said in their joint interview. “We would stay up late talking every single night, and we just really developed a bond.”
Xiao, 24, reminisced about how they talked until 5 a.m. on their second evening inside the house together and then continued their late-night chats from then on.
“That’s when I started really thinking like, ‘Wait a second, why didn’t this happen in the house? There’s such a strong connection and chemistry between us,’” he said. “I think that was the beginning of us thinking about what this could be.”
While the pair were competing on the show, they were just friendly with each other, but they now claim there was always an attraction.
“I knew from week one that Claire was my type,” Xiao said. “I guess I just never let myself explore that beyond just a friendship.”
Noting how other contestants getting together messed up their game plan, he added, “I mean, you saw what happened to Alyssa [Lopez] and Christian [Birkenberger] week one. For me, despite getting taken out very early on, I did want to win that game. … I knew that if I let myself, I would just fall for Claire in the house.”
Rehfuss noted that she didn’t really get to know her now-boyfriend well enough until the cameras were off.
“Once you’re off camera, that’s when you really, really get to know who a person is and you can really be vulnerable and you can really be open and really talk about a lot of things from your life,” she said.
On Instagram, Xiao posted a photo of him and Rehfuss from their Us photo shoot and playfully captioned it, “Expect the unexpected? 😅,” borrowing host Julie Chen’s catchphrase.
“Shoutout to all my fellow houseguests for helping us keep one last secret 🙏🏼,” he added. “Coming out of the Big Brother house has been overwhelming, but I’m so lucky to have had Queen Claire by my side making me smile and laugh everyday ❤️ I’m so excited to see what’s next for us!”
Rehfuss also shared a photo of her hugging her new man on Instagram and wrote alongside it, “💗💗💗 the absolute best thing to come out of the most stressful 3 months of my life.”
Fans, fellow Season 23 contestants and past “Big Brother” alums immediately commented how shocked they were and sent their congratulations to the happy couple.
“❤️❤️❤️ LEGIT SO HAPPY FOR YOU GUYS!!!” housemate Britini D’Angelo wrote.
Tommy Braco of Season 21 added, “Here for it 🙌💯.”
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