It goes down in the DMs! Kelsea Ballerini is finally opening up about her relationship with Chase Stokes — and revealing how it all began.

Kelsea Ballerini and Chase Stokes’ Relationship Timeline

The Grammy nominee, 29, attempted to play coy about her status during the Wednesday, February 22, episode of “Call Her Daddy” when asked whether she’s single after her divorce from Morgan Evans. “I’m just vibing,” Ballerini teased with a laugh.

Earlier this year, the country songstress was linked to the Outer Banks actor, 30, after they were spotted getting cozy at the College Football Playoff National Championship. They were later photographed holding hands in Nashville — but Ballerini wasn’t worried about how Evans, 37, would react.

“I’m not married to him anymore,” she explained on Wednesday. “I don’t need to care about his feelings anymore. I mean that with all the respect in the world, but his journey is not mine. I hope that he is protected from what he needs to be protected from seeing … [but] that is not my job.”

The “Muscle Memory” artist went on to describe how she reached out to Stokes with the encouragement of her manager. “I slid into those DMs,” she revealed, noting that she wasn’t interested in trying out any dating apps. “He shoots [Outer Banks] in Charleston, and my manager lives there. … He was like, ‘You know who’s really cute, like, when you’re ready? Chase.’ I was like, ‘You’re so right.’”

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Ballerini confessed that she’d never watched Stokes’ hit Netflix series, which premiered in 2020, but she “knew of him.” She followed him on Instagram — and had the perfect opening line for her first message.

“His handle is ‘hichasestokes’ and I just said, ‘Hi Chase Stokes,’” she teased. “We’re manifesting, baby.”

‘Outer Banks’ Cast’s Dating Histories: Madelyn Cline, Chase Stokes and More

The Tennessee native was married to Evans for nearly five years before the duo called it quits in August 2022. Their divorce was finalized three months later, and Ballerini revealed during her candid podcast interview that she began talking to Stokes in December 2022. When asked how her perspective on relationships has shifted since the end of her marriage, the “Homecoming Queen” singer responded that she finally felt like an “adult.”

“I feel like what that means to me is, like, I have opinions, I have a career that is a priority for me … and I have aspirations and goals that are tied to no one,” she said. “I have my s–t together and for me to share that with anyone is a gift. I want to be with someone that feels the same way about their life. … I’m having fun.”

While she described herself as “a relationship bitch,” Ballerini isn’t sure another marriage is in the cards. “Anytime I’ve said a hard no to something, I’ve come back later in my life and challenged it. Right now, I would say I don’t think I will get married again,” she explained. “I love the idea, again, of partnership … but I don’t know if I believe in the legality of it all anymore. I think if you want to be with someone, it should be a daily choice.”

Everything Kelsea Ballerini and Morgan Evans Have Said About Their Divorce

Before addressing her budding romance with Stokes, the “Peter Pan” singer shed light on some of the tension in her relationship with Evans that led to their split. She hinted in an early clip of the episode that she “swore” she’d never get married and didn’t want a wedding, throwing shade at the Aussie crooner by claiming: “I think he loved me more at 23 and I love me more at 29.”

Evans fired back before the entirety of the interview aired. “It’s really sad for me to see this person, who I spent so much of my life with, and loved with all my heart, saying things that aren’t reality and that leave out what really happened,” he wrote in a Twitter statement on Tuesday, February 21. “She knows I’m not the type of guy to speak on those things publicly. If this is what she needs to heal, I hope it helps.”

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He concluded: “All I ask is that if you’re on my pages, please don’t be mean. Don’t be mean to Kelsea, don’t be mean to each other. Life’s too short.”

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