Paige DeSorbo Explains Craig Conover Dating Timeline and 'Summer House' Love Triangle With Andrea Denver
By Brice Sander
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"If you're going to be in a love triangle, make sure one is an Italian model and the other one is a Southern gentleman," Paige DeSorbo quips, referencing the predicament she finds herself in at the start of Summer House's sixth season.
Last week's premiere kicked off with Paige moving into her Hamptons share house alongside her Winter House love interest, Andrea Denver, where it was soon revealed that Paige had started seeing their Winter House housemate, Southern Charm star Craig Conover, in the months between filming the Vermont-set spinoff and the mothership show. Many viewers assumed they'd see Paige and Craig's romance fully play out on Summer House, but the ball was already in motion when cameras went up.
"So, when we left Winter House, which we left [at] the beginning of March, I actually went on a trip with my brother to Charleston, [South Carolina, where Craig lives] ... in April," Paige shares. "I hadn't really talked to Craig in between that, so I didn't really know what his relationship status was. I kind of just went and assumed that he still had a girlfriend."
When the group left their 17-day Winter House stay, Craig was still in a relationship with then-girlfriend Natalie Hegnauer, though the show documented his uneasy feelings about where that relationship was headed, especially as they spent an extended period of time apart.
"On that trip, I realized that Craig was single -- and we were nothing but friends on that trip -- and then the last night he kind of kissed me," Paige reveals. "I actually said, 'It's crazy that you haven't kissed me yet,' and he was like, 'I didn't know where we were at that point.' And then it wasn't until May, he asked me to come down and spend a weekend with him and that is what really started us hanging out, but we were very single. It was kind of like, don't ask, don't tell. He was doing his thing in Charleston. I'm certainly doing my thing in New York, but we loved the time that we were together and hanging out. So we were very much casually dating. And then as the summer goes on, you'll see how we get more serious and what happens."
In the weeks after returning to New York City from Stowe, Vermont, Paige continued casually dating Andrea, but it quickly came into focus that they were ready for different things.
"We hung out maybe four or five times and he wanted to be exclusive," Paige notes, "and I just knew I wasn't 100 percent in it, and the last thing I would want to do is commit to something that I knew my heart wasn't 100 percent in. So, I kind of turned him down saying, 'I want to stay single.'"
The two carry out some flirtation in the Hamptons, but things get tricky as Paige and Craig's relationship gets more serious (Craig comes to visit at some point). In the trailer for the season, Andrea cries and says it "kills" him to see Paige with someone else because he had "real feelings" for her. He also implies he was blindsided by Paige and Craig's coupling.
"That makes me feel awful," Paige admits. "I don't ever want someone to be sad and me be the reason. So I really felt horrible when I heard him say that, but ... Craig was not the reason I stopped hanging out with Andrea."
Paige says she and Craig hadn't even connected yet when she broke things off with Andrea. "I was no one's girlfriend, so I was very much in the mentality of, I don't really owe any of these guys any explanation on my decisions because I'm not their girlfriend," she says. "So I definitely was playing the field all spring and certainly all summer."
The scales tipped in Craig's favor pretty naturally, Paige says. "I can't pinpoint a certain thing that he did or said, it was kind of just realizing how I felt about myself when I was with him," she shares, "and it was just kind of undeniable. Little things that I would get excited -- if I had a text message from him on my phone -- and it didn't even compare to when other guys would text me. So I knew that I was very into him a lot more than any other suitors that were around."
Paige says she's most looking forward to seeing their romance blossom as she watches the episodes air. "It will be interesting to watch just how excited I was when we first started talking, and how nervous and giddy I would get when he would come and visit or even just call and text me," she reflects. "So I'm really excited to see that because when you're in it, you're so in your own head. But knowing the ending, I'm excited to watch it."
The two have officially been boyfriend and girlfriend for about six months now, which means they defined their relationship near the end of Summer House's filming timeline. Viewers will get a peek into that process, starting with their first official date -- a moment hinted at in the trailer, including a steamy makeout in an elevator vestibule.
"We had hung out in Charleston before, but we did a lot of friends things," Paige explains. "So when he came to New York and asked me out, that really was our very first date and I think you'll realize how nervous both of us were. I think I changed my outfit seven times before."
Cameras also captured the growing pains of a new relationship, as the two established or even moved boundaries. The supertease features a tense moment where Paige asks Craig, "Are you still f**king her?" before flashing to a gossip blog headline about Craig, his Southern Charm castmate Austen Kroll and The Hills alum Kristin Cavallari being in a love triangle. While the trio has largely maintained they're just friends, Paige confesses that trailer-making moment of confrontation is indeed about the Very Cavallari star.
"My first thought, honestly, was like, who can compete with Kristin Cavallari?" she cracks. "First of all, I'm such a huge fan. And one of my first thoughts was, I'm wearing her [Uncommon James jewelry line] earrings right now. And, are you in love with her? So I was obviously hurt, but also excited. Would I get to meet her and would we be friends?"
"I think every single girl has had that moment in their 20s, in their 30s too, but we had a relationship where it was kind of, I'm single, you're single -- you're totally allowed to do whatever you want, I just don't really want to know about it," she says. "And so when certain things were brought to my attention, of course I was hurt. And of course I wanted to know where he truly stood. And I think it was a pretty valid question for me to ask: Where are we? Are you still seeing other people? Which, we both were, but I think it was a great point to have that conversation. Are we, are we not?"
"Now that I've been on reality TV for four years, if I feel it, I just kind of say it," she adds. The fact that she's with someone who is used to being on reality TV doesn't hurt either. Paige's past serious relationship, with entrepreneur Perry Rahbar, was different, seeing as Perry wanted nothing to do with public life and only made one brief appearance on Summer House.
"It's night and day," Paige admits of dating Craig vs. dating Perry. "There's so many, obviously, anxieties that I have from just being on a TV show in general, and you get so many random comments or messages. I'd be lying if I said sometimes they don't hurt my feelings, and it's things that I don't have to explain to Craig. He just gets it, and he gets that our work schedule is so different from someone who works a nine to five."
"I can't even relate it to any other relationship I've had," she adds. Paige and Craig took a beat before announcing their status to the world, dodging speculation over what they were as Instagram accounts like DeuxMoi reported their every move.
"I realize that I am on a reality show and I do owe a certain level of vulnerability and what's going on in my life," Paige says. "I even think it's crazy that I'm on a reality show, because I am pretty private about certain things and reserved about certain things, and when it comes to a relationship with someone else, I always want them to feel the most comfortable. So when I wasn't saying anything that we were hooking up, it was because we weren't exclusive and we were just friends and we were casually seeing each other."
"It wasn't until I fully knew, OK, this is my boyfriend, was I ready to tell everyone," she continues. "Obviously, my close friends knew what was going on, but that is a very vulnerable state to tell all of your Instagram followers and all of the people that watch Summer House and Winter House, 'Hey, I have a boyfriend now,' because there are so many opinions. So I wanted to make sure I knew what was going on and I felt comfortable enough to be like, this is my boyfriend and that we were in a good space. And so it just takes me longer to admit certain things than it does other people."
The pair went "Instagram official," sort of, at co-stars Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula's wedding in August, sharing sweet snaps from a photo booth -- something Paige confesses "we don't even really remember doing" given how much tequila was flowing that night. But that wedding kicked off Paige and Craig's "honeymoon phase," and the fashion influencer says she hopes they never leave it.
"We've had such a great six months already," she gushes. "We've talked about big things, just to see if we're aligned the way we feel about certain things -- and we definitely are -- but we're not even a year into our relationship. So, have we talked about a marriage and engagement, it's a normal conversation, but there's nothing very serious happening. We're only six months in."
"I think it would be a little crazy if oh, we're engaged or I'm moving," she continues. "I think that would be wild. I love where our relationship is right now. And when we first started dating and talking, we took it very slow and I think we're doing the same thing in our honeymoon phase. So I'm really happy with where we're at, but we're definitely aligned on big picture things."
Part of that future, future planning would likely be discussing relocation, but for now, Paige says long distance works for them.
"I don't think Craig would ever move to New York full time -- so not his vibe," she jests. "He loves it for a weekend, but I don't see him taking the subway anywhere -- but we definitely have talked about it. I love going down to Charleston."
"And I always feel bad when I say this, but we love long distance," she reiterates. "I love watching Real Housewives on nights that I want to watch Real Housewives, and pick my face in the mirror and not be bothered, but we don't really go more than a week without seeing each other. So, I see Craig more than I've seen some guys I've dated in New York, especially if they lived in Brooklyn or Queens."
While they don't live together (or even near each other), they have found ways to integrate into each other's lives, splitting the most recent holidays between their families.
"I think that really clicked for me when I met his family because they -- I'm not kidding -- it's like walking into a Hallmark movie," Paige says. "They are the sweetest people I've ever met in my life. So to see someone's family and their background, it made a lot of sense for me."
"And more importantly, he loved my family, too," she says. "So when that works out, it's just such a sigh of relief because let me tell you, I have brought boyfriends home and the first thing my dad has said is, 'That's enough now. No thank you.' And they loved Craig."
Paige says the real thing that sealed the deal for Craig being her guy was just how nice he proved to be time and time again. "Craig gets mad if I don't immediately say he's the hottest person in the world, which obviously I think that, but I really have to say his character [is my favorite thing about him]," she shares.
"I think sometimes he gets a bad rep because of Southern Charm, and they're so crazy on that show and they fight just as much as we do, but he is really to his core, so sweet and genuine," she professes. "And it is the nice guy. 'The nice guy finishes last' is not true. They finish first... when you're about to turn 30, they finish first."
Paige, Craig and Andrea are not the only Winter House inhabitants who find themselves in a love triangle on Summer House. Craig's bestie, Austen, provides plenty of drama for the season as he explores things with both Lindsay Hubbard and Ciara Miller, which seemingly culminates in a wine-tossing argument between Ciara and Lindsay's BFF/apparent proxy, Danielle Olivera.
"I get it," Paige offers of the battle over the Kings Calling Brewing founder. "Austen is so charismatic, one of the funniest people I know. He just is kind of captivating when he does walk into a room. So, I totally get the attraction that both girls were having toward him. It's so hard to watch your friend be hurt by another one of your friends, so I kind of stayed out of the love triangle as much as I could, other than when the girls were really going through it with him or going through it with each other, but I feel like that's just life and everyone finds themselves in a love triangle, whether they want it or not."
Paige says the wine-toss moments kind of came out of nowhere, and ignited her flight or fight response... as well as her style Spidey senses.
"Obviously, as one of the most selfish people on the planet, my first thought was, 'Wow, I really hope I don't get red wine on this dress, because I really love it,'" she half jokes. "When anything physical ever breaks out, I immediately go the other way. I am not one to get messy. I will fight all day with my words, but once objects are thrown or fists come up, I'm totally out. So it was a crazy moment, and it was so not Ciara's personality."
"I know that she apologized because that's so not her character. And Danielle and her left that weekend and that summer cool and friends," she adds. "I don't think that changed [between] us airing to us leaving the house. They talked about everything and they were fine, but it was definitely out of character for Ciara and she really is such a good person and sometimes people make mistakes. Ours just happened to be captured on camera."
Ciara has, in a way, replaced Paige's go-to confidante, Hannah Berner. The comedian parted ways with Summer House at the end of season 5, reaching a breaking point with nearly everyone on the cast. By the time their reunion aired, Hannah was only speaking with Paige and Ciara -- and majorly feuding with Kyle and Amanda.
"It was definitely weird," she admits. "It was weird not sharing a room with her, and I think it was a little less weird to go into the summer without her because we did do Winter House, but ... I think she's on such a different life path than all of us psycho single people were. It was definitely hard, because you want all of your friends to get along and be able to hang out and that is just not my reality. I have a lot of girlfriends who don't even know each other in my real life, and I have a lot of girlfriends who aren't friends with my other girlfriends. So it's definitely hard to balance, but I maintain an amazing relationship with Hannah. [Our podcast], Giggly Squad is going on tour at the end of January, and I also maintain a great relationship with Amanda. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding, so I'm pretty at peace with where my separate friendships are with everyone."
That wedding Paige mentions is the big finish of the summer, with a game of "will they or won't they make it down the aisle?" set to play out over the course of the season. In the trailer, Paige asks Amanda, "Does [Kyle] understand that he's literally on the brink of losing you?"
"As a friend, I asked her some uncomfortable questions to see how she felt, and Amanda's one of the best people I know and I also love Kyle," Paige explains of that moment, adding that she never doubted the pair -- who have been together for nearly all of Summer House's run -- tying the knot.
"It was never 'Team Amanda' or 'Team Kyle,'" she notes. "It was really, all of us, 'Team Happiness and Love.' Are you guys happy? Do you guys think you can work this out? And yes, obviously, they've been through some crazy summers together. So I think it only brings them closer and they're so happy now and their wedding day, it was like a fairy tale. She looked like a literal princess. So you just kind of see what happens leading up to it."
"I love love, and I think that [Carl and Lindsay] are perfect for each other," Paige says. "And Craig and I were so in our own world at that wedding, I had no idea what was going on with anyone, even the bride and groom. Craig and I literally stayed at the bar the entire night."