A post-season showmance! Big Brother 23 houseguests Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss are dating, Us Weekly can exclusively reveal.
The 24-year-old start-up founder and 25-year-old AI engineer had an obvious connection during the game but didn’t really explore that until after their evictions when they arrived to jury.
“I think that we both really felt the chemistry once we got to jury house and could really connect with each other,” Claire exclusively tells Us in a joint interview. “We would stay up late talking every single night and we just really developed a bond.”
Derek says that’s when things really started to click. “I remember the first or second night that she was there, we stayed up all night just talking until 5:00 a.m. That happened every single night for the first, like, five days. 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.’ I think that was the beginning of us thinking about what this could be.”
While their romance didn’t start on camera, the new couple, both of whom live in New York City, don’t deny that there was an attraction all along, and their connection deepened once they were able to talk without live feeders watching their every move.
“I knew from week one that Claire was my type,” Derek says. “I guess I just never let myself explore that beyond just a friendship. I mean, you saw what happened to Alyssa [Lopez] and Christian [Birkenberger] week one. For me, despite getting taken out very early on (laughs), I did want to win that game. … I knew that if I let myself, I would just fall for Claire in the house.”
“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,” Claire says.
He adds, “I feel like I know Claire better than I know a lot of my best friends.”
As for how their fellow houseguests reacted to the surprise romance, the pair say they were nothing but supportive.
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“The other houseguests were very aware of what was happening,” Claire explains. “Me and Alyssa were roommates in jury. She was like my confidante. Everyone else was also helping us try to get around the jury house managers. So everyone in the jury house basically knew what was happening. It wasn’t like a dirty little secret in the boat house or anything. It was very fun.”
Scroll down to see exclusive photos, taken by Erik Johnson for E-Studios, of the new couple and read our full interview!