On Thursday, February 23, Outer Banks star Chase Stokes posted a pic of himself and singer Kelsea Ballerini to his Instagram Story of her giving him a kiss on the cheek. The pair were rumored to be dating and have recently begun to confirm there’s a romance between them. In the photo, Stokes was smiling with his eyes closed and cuddling Ballerini.
Both Stokes and Ballerini are relatively recently out of relationships. In November of 2022, Ballerini reached a settlement in her divorce from ex-husband Morgan Evans. They married in 2017.
Stokes was most recently linked to co-star Madelyn Cline, who he dated for about a year and a half, confirming their break up in November of 2021. They still had to shoot the third season of Outer Banks together and seem to have remained friendly.
“Mads and I have been working together now for 30 episodes, and we made a promise to each other before we even started dating that the work was always going to come first,” Stokes told Entertainment Weekly. “And that no matter what happens in our personal lives, and the ways that life sometimes takes you in different directions, that we’re always going to honor the work. That stayed 100 percent truthful this season.”
Here’s the definitive timeline of Stokes and Ballerini’s relationship so far.
Stokes posted a pic with Ballerini looking suspiciously cuddly while watching the college football national championship game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, where they Georgia played TCU. It was snuck into a carousel of January pics captioned, “Lil recap.”
Around the same time, the country artist shared her own collection of pics, captioned, “New boot goofin.” In one image, she’s wearing a baseball cap repping her hometown Knoxville, Tennessee, and Stokes commented, “I like dat hat ma’am.”
They were spotted in a bar together in Nashville later that month, but a source told US Weekly at the time that were not officially dating.
“Chase and Kelsea have been flirting back and forth since meeting through friends at the College Football National Championship Game in L.A., but they’re not together,” the insider said. “They both think the other is very attractive, so you never know [what could happen].”
Ballerini made an appearance on the Call Her Daddy podcast, sharing that she is “having fun” after her divorce and admitted that she slid in Stokes’ DMs. She told host Alex Cooper, “I was ready to open back up…I just felt, why not? I’ve never really dated; I don’t know how it works. I’m like, ‘Let’s just put ourselves out there; let’s just vibe.’ And it’s been fun.”
Her Instagram move was partially motivated by the fact she isn’t “going to get on an app.” They followed one another and started chatting.
“I’ve never seen his show, but I just knew of him, and I just swan dove right on in,” Ballerini said, then shared her first message. “His handle is ‘@hichasestokes,’ and I said, ‘Hi, Chase Stokes.’”
Stokes told People that same month that he and Ballerini “have just been spending some time together.”
“Kelsea is a lovely, lovely girl,” he said. “She’s great. We’re having a good time.”
After it was announced that the singer would be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on March 4, Stokes said to Extra, “She’s an incredible human being… I adore her to death. This is a huge moment for her. So, I’m just very, very proud of her.”
In late February, Bellerini shared a picture of her and Stokes hand (presumably) holding seashells on the beach, writing her camera roll has been “cute” lately. He reshared it in his own Instagram Stories.
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.