'Big Brother' houseguests Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss reveal they are dating
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/18/2021
Big Brother houseguests Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss have revealed they are dating after their friendship took a romantic turn in the Season 23 jury house.
Derek, a 24-year-old start-up founder from Baltimore, MD, and Claire, a 25-year-old artificial intelligence engineer from Chagrin Falls, OH, toldUs Weekly in a joint interview they both felt an attraction to each other during the Big Brother game but did not act on their feelings until they both became jury members.
"I definitely liked Claire in the [BB} house. I knew from Week 1 that Claire was my type. I guess I just never let myself explore that beyond just a friendship... I knew that if I let myself, I would just fall for Claire," Derek admitted.
Claire confirmed, "There wasn't any secret backroom kisses or anything like that. It just naturally occurred in the jury house."
Derek shared how he wanted to win the game and so he stayed focused on strategy and making allies, and Claire was apparently on the same page at the time.
"I think both of us had like a little bit of a crush, or at least saw maybe there's some potential there, pretty early on in the game," Claire told the magazine.
"But then you just get wrapped up in the game and you just don't think about it anymore. You just are so focused on trying to win the money. And you're not exploring it. You're not really thinking, 'Oh, what if this?'"
Claire revealed that she and Derek -- who both currently live in New York City -- "felt the chemistry" once they got settled into the jury house and had an opportunity to "really connect with each other."
"We would stay up late talking every single night and we just really developed a bond," Claire noted.
Derek echoed Claire's sentiment and shared how their friendship quickly grew into something more.
"That's when I started really thinking like, 'Wait a second, why didn't this happen in the house? There's such a strong connection and chemistry between us.' I think that was the beginning of us thinking about what this could be."
Claire revealed that she had made the first move on Derek, officially taking their connection out of the friend zone.
It was also easier for the pair to bond when "live feeders" weren't watching their every move 24 hours a day.
"Once you're off camera, that's when you really, really get to know who a person is and you can really be vulnerable and you can really be open and really talk about a lot of things from your life," Claire reasoned.
And Derek added, "I feel like I know Claire better than I know a lot of my best friends."
When Derek and Claire's relationship was blossoming in the jury house, Claire said their fellow houseguests were "very aware of what was happening."
"Me and [Alyssa Lopez] were roommates in jury. She was like my confidante. Everyone else was also helping us try to get around the jury house managers," Claire disclosed.
"So everyone in the jury house basically knew what was happening. It wasn't like a dirty little secret in the boat house or anything. It was very fun."
There also appear to be no hard feelings from Hannah Chaddha, who seemed to have a big crush on Derek in the house.
In fact, Big Brother host Julie Chen even asked Derek if there was romance potential in the real world with Hannah in his post-eviction interview.
"Me and Claire actually didn't get together until Hannah came and we were able to talk to her about this. When Hannah came, I think me and Hannah actually talked first. We were just on the same page that our relationship was better off as just friends," Derek explained.
"She is someone that I want to keep in my life and I'm someone that she wants to keep in her life, just purely at a friendship level. It was just very platonic between us. But, in terms of awkwardness, I'd say zero to none, for all three of us."
And Claire agreed that she also feels no tension or awkwardness with Hannah, who is like a "little sister" to Claire.
"She's still my best friend. I think she is aware of how important we are to each other, and then we are also individually to her. There's really no ill will there at all. She just is an amazing person and I adore her," Claire confirmed.
As for the future, Claire and Derek have high hopes because their lives "mesh really, really well."
They said they love each other's sense of humor, creativity, fun-loving attitude, intelligence and big heart.
"I'm fortunate that I can travel with my work [and] just figure things out week by week of where we should be," Claire said.
And Claire told Us that her parents are "excited" about her new relationship and can't wait to meet Derek.