'Southern Charm' newbie Chleb Ravenell chats with ET about joining the show and the demise of his relationship with Kathryn Dennis.
"When I met Kathryn, I didn't really know her 'character' on the show," Chleb tells ET, referencing Kathryn's explosive behavior that's made for must-see moments over the course of the Bravo hit's eight-season run. While Chleb clarifies that comment by saying Kathryn is who she is, on and off camera, navigating her "intimidating" personality around those cameras was a bit of a shock.
"It took a bit of convincing [to film], because I played football and that was my sport," he shares. "That's what I wanted to be known as, a football player. And then to transition into something I don't know and have everybody in my life, was hard for me. Because when I met Kathryn, Kathryn was... I wouldn't say she was slightly depressed, but she kind of was depressed from the show. So seeing that, I was just like, 'Oh my god, oh my god, what do I get myself into? Am I going to end up like this?'"
Chleb faced a low moment pretty early on in his Southern Charm experience, as Kathryn pulled the plug on their relationship. Viewers watched the emotional moment play out last week, but Chleb says he can't bring himself to relive that conversation, which happened last fall.
"I couldn't watch it. It was too emotional for me. I'm not even going to lie," he admits, getting choked up. "That literally kind of broke my heart at that time. I literally was trying everything to get back together with her, because I wanted to make it work. I have a mentor and my mentor said, if you're not a hundred percent in, it's not going to work. And I literally came back with that mentality of putting a hundred percent into things. And for us to kind of call it off, it hurt me a lot."
"We've been through so much and just talking about it kind of gets me in my emotions," he says, his eyes getting teary. Chleb started dating Kathryn during a tough time for the reality star, in the midst of an ongoing custody battle with her ex, Thomas Ravenel, and as she navigated drama surrounding some insensitive comments she made to a woman of color, which played out on season 7. Kathryn's credited Chleb with helping educate her and make her a better person.
"To be honest with you, we've been through whatever we've been through. I hope the best for her," he shares. "Me and her, we don't really talk anymore. I mean, I'm not really too sad about her or anything like that, but I just wish the best for her. If she moves on, finds another guy, I hope he can give her that love that she needs. I mean that's about it. So to this day, we already, we've been through that. We learned from each other. We're going to move on and we're going to use what we learned in that relationship. And we're going to take it to another relationship and try to be the best individual we can be."
While that's the place Chleb is now, in present day, he does tease there's more to his and Kathryn's love story set to play out as season 8 continues to air. Southern Charm's 100th episode debuts Thursday night.
"It's going to be fun, put it that way," he shares. "She's not my girl anymore, but I'm going to try to get my girl back. That's all. That's all you need it to know."
Teasers show Chleb turning to his cousin, Chelsie, for advice when it comes to Kathryn, especially in regard to her kids. A main issue Kathryn brought up while breaking things off with Chleb was his lack of involvement with her children, 8-year-old Kensie and 6-year-old Saint.
"I don't think the kids were a factor in our relationship," Chleb now offers, in hindsight. "I feel like the kids were an excuse on a reason why we broke up, but it wasn't a main factor. She gets the kids on weekends. I work on weekends. So when she did have the kids, I would be at work and I couldn't see the kids too much. And when I was with the kids, I wasn't able to actually step in and be a stepdad or discipline the kids or anything like that. Because I just wasn't allowed to just by Thomas's rules. So I felt like I didn't have a part of her family. I wasn't all the way in there, you know what I mean?"
Thomas has primary custody of Kensie and Saint, and has been known to be tough on Kathryn's parenting.
"I wasn't able to teach the kids anything, I wasn't able to discipline the kids," Chleb repeats. "It was just hard for me to do that. So I didn't feel like I was not... I didn't feel welcomed. There's a lot of boundaries. Me and Kathryn had a relationship, and then when the kids came along, I was just kind of just there, kind of just looking after them."
When Kathryn first went Instagram official with Chleb last year, her followers were quick to note just how similar his last name is to Thomas' surname. The only difference is an extra L.
"To this day, I have no idea [if we're related]," he confesses, "and I really want to find out. I really want to find out. I don't think we are because I'm a lot cuter than he is. But I don't know. My mom once told me -- this is a little secret -- my mom once told me that my great grandma added an L to our last name, Ravenell, because they didn't want to be associated with Ravenel. That's what I heard. But I haven't done the research. I haven't done the saliva test or whatever they do."
Chleb jokes the Ravenels need to "f**king pass their wealth down," but other than that, he's fine keeping his distance from his ex's ex. As he noted, he's also put some distance between himself and Kathryn since they ended things for good, which means his mom -- who became a surrogate mother figure to Kathryn -- has also cut off contact with her.
"Nah, my mom's with me," he notes. "If I'm not talking to that person, it's over. So no, she has no contact with her. Yeah, she still talks about Kathryn. Yes. But no, they don't talk."
As for what's still to come this season, Chleb doubles down on his promise for "fun."
"It's just a fun ride actually," he gushes. "The show is actually funny, it is actually really funny. All I got to say about that is just keep watching, just keep watching."
Southern Charm airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo, with episodes streaming the next day on Peacock.