Inside Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev's Relationship Nearly a Year After Their First Date (Exclusive)

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Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev are coming up on a year of dating, and couldn't be happier about how much their love has grown!

While guest-hosting Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday, the lovebirds recalled the early days of their relationship, sharing a hilarious story about their very first date.

The two first sparked romance rumors in December 2018, when paparazzi photographed them together at a local farmer's market in Los Angeles. At the time, Nikki basically ghosted Artem on the date, leaving the scene the moment she spotted cameras.

"Our first date was at the farmer's market in Studio City, and I had no idea that it was filled with paparazzi," she explained. "So Artem and I are, like, looking at vegetables -- and I honestly think he was picking up tomatoes -- and I see a paparazzi in this corner, and one in the other corner and I just freaked. I walked away from him, all the way to my car that was parked at Von's and I drove off. And poor Artem, all of a sudden I get a text like, 'Uhh, where did you go?' I didn't even say anything."

"I'm [with] a basket of vegetables, just standing there, thinking, 'Did she [go] somewhere? What happened?'" Artem added. "And I'm seeing, like, a shadow crossing the road and almost running. So I'm like, 'Did I do something wrong?'"

Nikki Bella and artem chigvintsev farmers market dec 2018
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On top of all the media attention, Artem also had to deal with Nikki's twin sister, Brie, who wasn't his biggest fan in the beginning.

"She was very mean to me," Artem recalled, telling ET that he felt like Brie had a "Boycott Artem" period. "It was very tough in the beginning because I had to prove himself in a sense. But I appreciated it from her because she's a sister who's looking after another sister and I feel like she wanted to have her back. I respect that."

Nikki agreed, saying "it was very hard on him," especially because he wasn't allowed at any family events. 

"It would make me hesitant to be with him and want to take it to the next level," she continued. "Because it's one thing when your family doesn't like the person that you're with, but when it's your twin sister who you do business with, who you're around all the time ... I was like, 'OK, this is really hard.' Like, I'd be on Facetime and Brie would be in with [her daughter] Birdie, and she'd be like, 'Artem is not allowed to look into the camera.' He couldn't even be on Facetime, even in the background."

Now, Artem and Brie's friendship is much stronger, and has been since the summer. "They cook together all the time and Birdie's obsessed with him," Nikki explained.

Artem Nikki and Brie Bella at TCA
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

As for where things now stand between Nikki and Artem, they're continuing to take things slow, which fans will get to see more of on season five of Total Bellas.

"I feel like Artem balances me in all the right ways. I get so busy and get into hustler mode so much and Artem just literally, and this is such a weird analogy, but he does make me stop and smell the roses," the former WWE star said. "He makes me enjoy life in such a simple way and I love it."

Artem and Nikki haven't discussed marriage just yet, but that hasn't stopped the dancer's parents from bugging them about babies.

"I think the tricky part is our ages and we're falling in love so quick. We should be moving really fast, but then I get very hesitant and I like to just slow down a bit," Nikki shared. "But then when his dad asked about babies I'm like, 'Well, I guess I am almost 36 years old, maybe that's why he's asking.'"

Added Artem, "My mom told me that my dad told her to ask me [about babies]. It was a weird conversation. In my opinion, I feel like I definitely want to have kids, but there's never a right time to have kids because you will always be like, 'Oh, I wish this was better.' My parents had me and my brother when trust me, no one wanted to have kids at that time, and look -- we turned out OK!"

However, the two revealed to ET that they are keeping things just as spicy in the bedroom as they did in the ballroom.

"There are moves I've never seen before," gushed Nikki, who competed with Artem on season 25 of Dancing With the Stars. "Once you go to moves like this, I don't know where you go from here."

"You'll be lucky if you can find a dancer," she continued. "Date a dancer. In your dating apps, put 'dancers only' because you'll be very happy."

Read more from the couple's latest interview with ET here, and on Nikki and Brie's Bellas podcast.

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