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It's (Instagram) official! After months of fan speculation and question dodging, Summer House stars Carl Radke and Lindsay Hubbard finally confirmed they're a couple -- though not necessarily using the terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" -- ahead of the show's season 6 premiere. Fans will see the two rekindle their flame near season's end, after first attempting to turn their friendship into a relationship back in season 4.
"Me and Lindsay are together. We are very happy. I apologize for not sharing more in the fall, but I think for me personally, I needed some time for myself where I'm working on my sobriety," Carl shares with ET over video chat. When ET spoke with Carl and Lindsay about romance rumors back in October, they wouldn't give a straight answer.
"I think it was important for us to have some time for us to develop that a little bit," he explains of not wanting to label what was going on three months ago. "Obviously everybody wants to know what's going on, but I needed a little bit of time, but I'm just happy to report we are dating. We're very, very happy."
The coupling came as a surprise to Carl, who admits he would've give a "hard no" to "Carl and Lindsay 2.0" if someone had asked him about getting together a year ago.
"I've said that a lot -- 'We're just friends' -- and she said the same, but towards the end of the summer and around [co-stars Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula's] wedding [in September], even right after that, there was definitely, there was feels, there was a vibe," he says, "and just really wanting to make sure we were both in the right place to pursue that. And I think taking things slow was important, but we're best friends so it's hard to kind of slow down."
The pair spent the holiday season together, celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and Carl's one-year sobriety anniversary as a couple.
"She's been a big part of [my sobriety journey]," Carl notes. "I feel like we're just a great team. We have respect for each other. We communicate really well. We have a ton of fun, but we formed this amazing bond and incredible friendship that now that we've unlocked the romantic part, it's even more exciting. So I'm really happy."
While viewers will have to stay tuned to see how and when they decide to get back together, Carl sheds some light on why this time is working for them.
"I think last time you encountered me and Lindsay kind of trying our hand, we were both in very different places," he says. "I was still partying a lot -- not really committed to finding anything, just wanting to screw around -- and I couldn't do that with someone like Lindsay, who's my best friend. And the casual nature of all that just wasn't going to be healthy. So the fallout from us trying to date was really hard. There was definitely a few weeks and months that were really tough on our relationship as friends. But we overcame that, got even closer during last summer with everything I was [going through] with my brother, my own changes in my life this past year."
On season 5 of Summer House, Carl received devastating news: his older brother, Curtis, died of a drug overdose. The house's mounted cameras captured the heartbreaking moment he found out and the emotional aftermath that followed, including a return to drinking after months of sobriety. Lindsay served as a major pillar of support for Carl in those moments, and he gets a chance to return the favor in season 6. Lindsay makes an unexpected confession about her personal life to Carl in the premiere.
"It is an intense moment," Carl teases. "I care about her deeply and I really wanted to find the right words to say in that moment, but also trying to process it at the same time and it was a lot to hear."
"All I can think about in that moment was, holy s**t," he adds. "Thank you for sharing that with me. I give you so much credit for opening up, but also trying to find the right words to say and just be supportive. So it was a unique position for me to be in. ... [And] I give her a lot of credit for opening up to that because, not unlike my sobriety, my brother's passing, I think some of our stories that we're vulnerable and authentic about ultimately can really help people, and I hope it can help Lindsay grow from it. I think it's given her a new perspective [on] what she wants, and I hope people that watch it can hopefully help her heal some wounds or help conversations happen."
Carl went into filming season 6 at six months sober, giving him a clear perspective on making the show and what he's looking to get out of life. He'll share more about his commitment to (and struggles with) sobriety as the season plays out.
"I've just had so many friends ask us, 'Have you thought about Lindsay?' And just the amount of time we spent together and the clearheaded nature of my life, I'm just thinking differently," he admits of the thought process that plays out over the episodes. "I'm a lot more focused. The party days are over, and I'm sorry to report that, everybody's loved watching Summer House parties. But for me personally, my partying journey, it's past me. I have different things I want to get in my life, and I think me and Lindsay are kind of feeling like we're in the same lock-step, kind of talking the same language."
"I'm 37, she's 36, we're a little older than people might realize on the show," he continues. "And I'm sure she's explored or shared that her clock is ticking to some degree, and I'm in a place where I want to be with someone. I want to hang out with someone. I want to build something with someone and do things together and build a life together. So that's been coming more to light over the last year in my sobriety."
Carl says one hang-up for him was the unwritten rule of not dating during the first year of sobriety.
"I've had a lot of conflicting feelings at times, which again, it was scary crossing the line with Lindsay, but it wasn't at the same time, it just felt right," he says, noting the line is blurred when a friendship evolves into something deeper.
"Someone was like, 'Yeah, dude, you're going to be on day 366 of sobriety, are you all of a sudden ready to, to date?' It's kind of a little silly," he says. "She's someone that, support-wise, has been unbelievable. I think you don't realize it that you need it until after you kind of go through it and reflecting back on this last year, Lindsay, Kyle, even Amanda, my friends, Danielle [Olivera] have all-- Luke [Gulbranson] -- have been incredibly supportive of what I'm doing and made me feel more comfortable being sober. And that's been huge."
As for the next step, Carl and Lindsay are taking a page out of the sobriety handbook: One day at a time.
"I think just inherently, we have similar interests of what we want in our life," he remarks. "Have we directly like, 'Hey, I want...?" We've had some conversations about some stuff -- we do communicate pretty well -- but I think right now it's almost kind of this honeymoon fun, or excited to just spend time with each other and travel. And I've never really been in this situation where I've really enjoyed hanging out with someone sober as much as I do Lindsay. And I've had so much fun with her and I just feel like her and I just have this incredible team and just taking it one day at a time. But yeah, the relationship is No. 1 and we're happy. I think this spring and summer will be another kind of next step for us, but we'll see."
First, they have to get through watching back the summer that was as Summer House season 6 plays out on TV. That means seeing Lindsay get intimate with Southern Charm's Austen Kroll.
"I watched her date some OK guys, but also just kind of... she's really ready for that next chapter of her life," Carl says. "And I want her happy. So I was also feeling for her, too, seeing her kind of not struggle, not hitting the home run that she would maybe have hoped. But I don't pay too much attention to it. If you really want to break it down, the crossovers between a lot of us in the house have... it is incestuous."
The trailer teases a moment in bed, in which Austen tells the PR professional, "I'm gonna eat you from front to back."
"I've been through so much of my life over the last couple years that I try to laugh at some of this stuff," Carl admits of watching back those on-camera hook-ups. "Take it as an opportunity to learn a little bit, laugh. Yeah, there's going to be cringey things, but I can look Lindsay in the eye -- and we'll be watching the episodes, most likely, together -- and yeah, there's going to be some uncomfortable moments. I think she would agree, but it's only going to make us stronger. And I think hopefully we don't ever have to see her making out with anybody ever again."
"At the end of the day, we all have a past," Carl notes. "I know what I've signed up for. Yeah, my skin's got a lot thicker over the years. If you would've asked me how I felt five years ago, watching Lindsay go on dates with other people, yeah, it'd be a little more challenging. But I know how the story goes and I know where we're at right now. And I ... just try to stay present."
Summer House season 6 premieres on Monday, Jan. 17, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.