Kelsea Ballerini recalls first messaging Chase Stokes at 1am: ‘I have no shame in that game’

Kelsea Ballerini celebrated her boyfriend Chase Stoke’s birthday by reflecting on the first message she ever sent him.

The country singer explained to Nylon that one of her friends suggested that she follow the Outer Banks actor on Instagram during a night out in Nashville. Once she followed him and he followed her back, she reached out to him at 1.07am.

“I was just like: ‘Why am I waiting for this guy to reach out to me? This is 2022,’” the 30-year-old said of her thought process as she slid into her now-boyfriend’s direct messages. “Listen, I was living my best life. I have no shame in that game.”

After direct messaging, the pair met up in Los Angeles for the first time, a day before they had scheduled their first date, and the next day, they had a follow-up date. The couple publicly confirmed their relationship in March of this year, before making their red carpet debut the following month.

“I really did [know] as soon as I met him,” she told the outlet. “And maybe that sounds like I’ve learned zero things, but I’ve always been a heart-first girl. And the truth is it’s never led me astray. I’ve always been where I needed to be while I needed to be there.”

“He is the first person I’ve been in a relationship with that I feel like is not my complete opposite,” she added to the magazine, saying that she and Stokes both have “golden retriever energy” and similar personalities.

“He’s also a Virgo,” she told StyleCaster in July. “It doesn’t take much conversation to be on the same page. It’s been half a year and it’s been great.”

The “Blindsided” singer also shared with the outlet why she and the actor weren’t shy about publicly showing each other off. She explained: “The thing that we’ve decided, and to each their own, is when you’re with someone that you feel secure with and that you’re proud to be with, why not share it?”

Ballerini went public with her relationship with Stokes months after her divorce from ex-husband Morgan Evans was finalised in November 2022. The singer touched upon the backlash she received following her divorce and the release of her ex’s single “Over for You,” in which he sung about feeling blindsided by their divorce. She told the outlet: “Who you marry is not who you divorce.”

The intense scrutiny on her personal life is new for Ballerini, but she told the outlet that she’s intent on handling the backlash and attention with “grace.” She explained: “I’ve done this for a decade. I’ve done the work. But the eyeballs on the rest of my life is new, so I’m giving myself a lot of grace. All the things that I’ve always done are because that’s actually who I am at my core. [But] I am actively working to protect the normalcy.”

The couple recently made a date night out of the Time100 Next event, sharing BTS photos from the black-tie affair on Instagram, showing off their glam looks. Ballerini was one of the event’s honorees and interviewed by Shania Twain for one of the covers for Time magazine.