"I was definitely the most struck by her beauty the first time she came down the stairs," the 26-year-old startup recruiter from Venice Beach told Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti on their The Ben and Ashley I: Almost Famous podcast.
"I think that she has a really fun personality too and then as time wore on that first day I began to see that."
Dean was the very first bachelor to arrive at the Playa Escondida resort in Mexico. Once his The Bachelorette bros joined the cast one at a time, he started drinking and having fun on the beach.
Kristina's arrival, however, prompted Dean to take a different approach to his Bachelor in Paradise experience early on.
"When I began to realize that her and I had a spark, I was like, 'Alright. I need to tone it back, keep drinking water and kind of focus in on this,'" Dean said on the podcast of his first encounter with the sweet yet feisty Russian dental hygienist from Nick Viall's The Bachelor season.
Dean and Kristina immediately hit it off in Paradise when Season 4 began filming. But after a romantic date, a kiss, and nearly three days together, production temporarily shut down so Warner Bros. could investigate an allegation of misconduct in regards to a sexual encounter between DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios.
When the original cast members returned home during the filming suspension, Dean actually visited Kristina in her Kentucky hometown to keep their romance going.
Dean and Kristina's dynamic, however, seemed to change once taping resumed in Mexico after about 10 days off. Their communication was lacking, and neither individual was willing to really express him or herself. Dean noted he wasn't feeling great about their relationship, and the latest episode left off with Kristina running away from him in tears.
The production shutdown "definitely changed things," according to Dean, who got eliminated by Rachel Lindsay on The Bachelorette after his hometown date.
"You can definitely feel the tension in the air, maybe among the people who were less solidified in their relationships. They felt like the time was dwindling down and they had to, you know, make some moves."
Although viewers saw Dean and Kristina's romance falling apart onBachelor in Paradise's two-night premiere this week, he told Ben and Ashley that he reassured the bachelorette amid the chaos.
"I pulled Kristina aside and I guess noted how stressful it must be for her, and I gave her like an hour long massage in the privacy of one of the cabanas. I was doing it for selfish reasons, I just wanted to get one back eventually," Dean joked on the podcast, adding that he "unfortunately" never received a rubdown in return.
Dean revealed that he did not communicate with Kristina before filming began, nor did he get to know any other potential love interests.
"I made a concerted effort to not talk to any of the women before I went on the show because I wanted to go in with a very blank canvas, an open mindset to meet every single one of them," Dean said.