“We first met in a small local dive bar and on the same night I ran into my ex for the first time since we had broken up,” the Bachelor in Paradise alum, 35, tells Us Weekly exclusively of her new man. “I really didn’t want to stay at the bar after seeing my ex, but with some encouragement from my friends, I stayed and ended up I talking to the cute guy that I’d been eyeing. Turns out he’s actually pretty great and now my boyfriend.”
The pair met in Lake Tahoe, California, shortly before the state enforced shelter in place rules amid the coronavirus pandemic, and decided to hunker down together early on. “From the beginning of quarantine up until now, we have basically spent every waking moment together,” Puccini says.
The event designer, who previously appeared on Arie Luyendyk Jr.‘s season of The Bachelor in 2018, bonded with her boyfriend over their shared love for staying active, traveling and “being adventurous.” While they have plenty in common, Puccini’s new flame has never seen her reality TV stints — and she’d like to keep it that way.
“Thankfully, he did not watch The Bachelor and was not particularly interested that I was on reality TV,” the California native jokes, adding that she was “very happy” to keep that part of her life out of her new relationship for now. “Maybe one day I’ll show him if he’s curious, but for now I’m just grateful that he’s getting to know the real me.”
As the couple continue to explore their connection, they’ve filled their days in quarantine with “lots of hiking, dance parties and cooking up epic meals” in her family’s cabin. Puccini has also been hard at work with her latest project, 3 Little Birds, designing one-of-a-kind masks and headbands with a portion of profits going toward COVID-19 relief efforts. Through it all, her boyfriend has been “supportive” and “very helpful” with her new endeavor.
“Quickly, I realized he was not a rebound guy,” she tells Us. “We have so much fun together. Even though we are very different people, we genuinely respect, trust and challenge each other. It’s not always easy spending every second of every day together but, we have learned a lot about each other and grown to adjust to the current times with good communication being absolutely vital.”
With reporting by Kayley Stumpe