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Why "DWTS" Contestants "Always" Fall for Their Pros, Maksim Chmerkovskiy Says

The reality star explains why celebrities often misconstrue the relationship.

With each new season of Dancing With the Stars comes another rumor that one of the professional dancers is dating the celebrity they're paired with. Some real relationships have come out of the show, but in other instances, rumors of a flirtation that the pair either plays up or down during their journey to compete for the mirrorball trophy come to nothing. But, why does this happen so often? Outside of the media and viewers searching for a love story, former DWTS pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy says that there's a real reason why stars fall for their pros, even when their partners aren't intentionally pursuing them or being flirtatious.

Read on to see what Chmerkovskiy—who has been subject to plenty of dating rumors himself—had to say.

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Chmerkovskiy says celebrities aren't used to dancers' "sexual energy."

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis performing in Westbury, New York in 2014
Bobby Bank/WireImage via Getty Images

As reported by Entertainment Tonight, during an appearance on DWTS pro Cheryl Burke's podcast, Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans, Chmerkovskiy talked about why DWTS contestants tend to fall for their pros. He pointed out that most of the contestants aren't used to being around professional dancers, who present themselves differently than others.

"Celebrities always fall in love with dancers," he said, before pointing out that it's not really always the case, because some pairs simply don't get along.

But, he explained, "That type of sexual energy, because they walk in and you're standing there with Sasha [Farber] with his chest open, Val [Chmerkovskiy] with his shirt off and abs, Maks with his v-neck [shirt], this, that, or the other," he said. "We're just obnoxiously out of this world and people wouldn't understand what to do with us." He said that while contestants might think the dancers are "weird people" at first, they come around and end up wanting spray tans, fake abs, and sparkly outfits of their own.

They also misunderstand the closeness of dancing.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Kirstie Alley at the "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" premiere in 2011
s_bukley / Shutterstock

Chmerkovskiy also told a story about working with Kirstie Alley, with whom he was partnered for Seasons 12 and 15. The 43-year-old said that Alley kept referring to him as flirtatious, which he didn't understand.
"Kirstie Alley, rest in peace, I've said it many times. It makes total sense. She's like, 'You're so flirty.' I'm like, 'Me?'" Chmerkovskiy said on the podcast. Eventually, he asked her why she kept describing him that way.

"She's like, 'Well, look where you're placing your hands.' What?! Where am I placing my hands?" he said. "'It's not your butt! I'm placing my hand onto your center of gravity where I can move you. I'm helping you! Because if I place it on your shoulder [you're] gonna keel over and fall.'"

He concluded, "It's that. It's the misunderstanding of close proximity."

Real-life couples have emerged from DWTS, however.

Daniel Durant and Britt Stewart at the premiere of "Creed III" in 2023
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Sometimes the dating rumors about a pro and their celebrity partner fizzle out by the time their season of the show is over, but there have also been many instances of partners going on to have real relationships. Derek Hough and American Pie actor Shannon Elizabeth, Keo Motsepe and Selling Sunset star Chrishell Stause, and Britt Stewart and CODA actor Daniel Durant are just a few examples of romances that came out of the show.

Some of the pairs have even gone on to get married. Pro Artem Chigvintsev and wrestler Nikki Bella became friends while paired on DWTS and began dating. They welcomed a child in 2020 and have been married since 2022. Kym Johnson and Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec tied the knot in 2016 and welcomed twins in 2018.

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Chmerkovskiy also found love through the show.

Chmerkovskiy has been the subject of dating rumors regarding two of his DWTS partners, ice dancer Meryl Davis and sports reporter—and eventual DWTS host—Erin Andrews. Chmerkovskiy and Andrews in particular played into the rumors, including pretending that they were going to kiss on a bed during one of their routines.

The dancer, who left the the show in 2018, has had relationships emerge from DWTS—but they were with other pros. He was engaged to pro Karina Smirnoff in 2009. And since 2017, he has been married to pro dancer Peta Murgatroyd, with whom he has two children.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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