How exactly did we get to this point?
Corey Gamble has been a part of our lives (okay, fine, our DVR recordings) for the better part of six years and yet we know shockingly little about the enigmatic Atlanta native, save for his connection to Kardashian family friend Justin Bieber and his ability to wear the hell out of a good suit.
Which was precisely Khloe Kardashian's argument on last summer's season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians when she, sister Kim Kardashian and brother-in-law Kanye West clashed with momager Kris Jenner about her boyfriend's secretive tendencies.
"Kanye texts Corey something along the lines of, 'Look, we don't know you. We've never met any of your family members,'" Kim explained of the issue. And though she may not have tried such a blunt approach, "I agree with that statement from Kanye," Khloe shared. "We don't know anything about Corey like that."
By the time the closing credits rolled, a few tidbits had been uncovered. For starters, Corey—marking his milestone 40th birthday Nov. 10, just five days after Kris turned 65—would prefer to keep some details of his background off millions of TV screens, his tendency for discretion coming from the fact that he has more than a few friends in high places. "I know a person like me gets criticized for not talking about other peoples' business. Or people will call you mysterious if you don't talk a lot," he noted during the May 2019 episode. "I've been so sacred in a lot of significant peoples' lives and I don't talk about it, but it's not my place to talk about it."
The most important truth that was reinforced, though, has never been up for debate. Corey, who's described his career succinctly as "just basically making s--t happen in the music industry," is simply infatuated with the high-powered reality television doyenne.
"Corey is really in love and obsessed with Kris," a source told Us Weekly in October 2019. "He always tries to make her happy and be supportive of her." Because while the woman, who almost single-handedly turned her brood into one of the most well-recognized and eminently marketable families in the entire world, is constantly seeing to the needs of her six off-spring and 10 grandchildren, it's Corey who's constantly telling her, you're doing amazing, sweetie.
"I think that sometimes what you guys don't realize is that Corey is really taking care of me," Kris explained to Khloe, enforcing the fact that she and Corey intend for their partnership to be forever. "Like no one ever has in my entire life."
Like he has from the very start, when they connected in August 2014 at the Kris Jenner version of meeting through friends, fashion designer Riccardo Tisci's 40th birthday bash in Ibiza.
At the time, Kris was roughly a year removed from her second marriage to Olympic champ Caitlyn Jenner, enough separation for her to know she might be ready to let a new someone in.
As for Corey, he was just a guy spying a good-looking woman in a fitted LBD. "She had on this nice-ass dress and she was looking good," he would later recall to Khloe on Keeping Up With the Kardashians of his initial thoughts. So he bided his time until he caught a rare moment in which she wasn't socializing with daughters Kim and Kendall Jenner or West, all on hand for the fete, or circulating with the party's other bold-faced names, such as Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Jessica Chastain and Ciara).
"I waited until she, you know, was off on her own. I came up and started talking," he continued. "Then I asked her to come up on the little stage and dance, so we started dancing." His big move, he shared: "I just tried saying, 'You're beautiful. I'd love to get to know you,' and it went from there."
Indeed, it did.
By November he was so firmly entrenched, he earned an invite to Kris' 59th birthday. And by March, he was popping up on the family's flagship show, an entire episode dedicated to his and Kris', um, nocturnal activities. ("The bed, like, bangs up against the wall," houseguest Kim complained. "And I was literally trying to pass out.")
But those heady initial months weren't all bedroom innuendos, trips to Mexico and double dates with Kyle Richards and husband Mauricio Umansky. Because ever the protective daughters, Khloe and her sisters voiced objections to the man they viewed as an interloper.
"It's so annoying that my own family is being so judgmental because all I really want to do is live my life," Kris complained to Keeping Up cameras of fighting for her kids' approval.
The way Khloe saw it, though, she never imagined the first guy her mom truly dated would be a keeper. "I was like, 'Okay, this probably isn't going to last,'" she explained. "I just didn't feel the need to get that connected or attached." By the time she realized she had misjudged the situation, "We tried to get to know him, but he has not been receptive in this whole thing."
He shared enough to get along, reassuring Khloe and close pal Malika Haqq in one 2015 episode that he'd never been to prison ("Nah. I ain't mister perfect, none of that type of stuff. No trouble that's a disrespect or threat to another human") and telling Kendall in another that "being with your mom is better than being with any chick my age or younger. I think we do more than you younger girls do." (Ahem, perhaps that's what Kris meant when she called her man a "walking, talking Luther Vandross song.")
The deep stuff, though, was saved for Kris. Together, they decided they would both prefer to pass on marriage ("I just think as long as things are going so well, why ruffle it up?" she reasoned to Ellen DeGeneres while he told Khloe, "I don't think love is measured by that piece of paper because I know people that are not married that are strong as hell") and they didn't need children together, Corey having satisfied that particular itch by helping raise his nieces and nephews. Though that hasn't stopped him from referring to their new puppy Bridgette as his daughter.
And they both hard agreed that their 25-year age difference was simply a non-issue. "It's not even an age factor," he explained on the show, "it's just a connection."
Theirs was a bond that didn't rely heavily on endless commonalities. But the self-made San Diego-raised mogul and the Georgia-bred music industry player aren't nearly as disparate as they might appear at first glance.
While Corey wasn't a household name back when he and Kris shared that first dance in Spain, Bieber's onetime road manager was enough of a known entity to gain entree to the star-studded party in the first place. So if he and Kris weren't necessarily on the same level, they were at least in the same room.
And in the years since he's proven himself a worthy companion for the impressive matriarch.
Having studied business marketing at Morehouse College, he's built up his own fortune (a net worth estimated at $2.5 million) and a refined taste to match his lady's. "We do the art thing," Gamble has shared of their typical date nights at dinners and gallery openings. "We do, you know, she like to do her shopping deal." And they've proven quite the force on the red carpet, the couple having become regulars at the Met Gala, in Cannes and at various benefits and fashion shows.
Not that they need all the trappings that accompany such public lives to feel content in their partnership. "I don't really care what we do," he has proclaimed on Keeping Up. "When we hanging, we hanging, the scenery don't really matter. I like being with her, so it's cool."
Which is pretty much the perfect way to sum up their whole relationship: They like being together, so it's cool.
Asked about next steps involving an oversized left hand ring and a white veil occasion, Kris told attorney Laura Wasser on her All's Fair podcast, "You know, you never say never, but I often say it's just not what I think I need to do again based on my past."
Continued the twice-wed star, "I'm in a really great relationship right now, and I'm happy and I don't want to mess that up. I don't have the need to put on a long, white dress and walk down an aisle. I've done that. I've had the big wedding, I've had the babies and the kids—six of them, by the way. It's not like we need to do that again; my body wouldn't cooperate if I wanted it to. I think that I just feel really grateful and blessed for my past experiences and I'm looking forward to my future."
Because at the end of the day, whatever Corey has or has not put out in the public domain, it's Kris who has the final word on his place in the Kardashian pantheon.
As Khloe told her mom during their May 2019 heart-to-heart, "I want you to be happy. And I don't care who you're with as long as they're good to you....You have to live your life for you and be happy and if you are, that's great. I support you and I want you to feel like we're happy for you, because we are."
And Kris is decidedly blissed out. "He's great. Corey is so easy and, at the same time, so smart and intelligent," she told Us Weekly last year of why he's worthy of being on her arm. "He's always one step ahead of me, and he loves the kids, and the kids love him, and he loves the grandchildren. He really is such a great guy."
A smart guy who treats her well and embraces her collection of kids and grandkids as his own? That's a pretty nice happy ending for this modern love story.
(Originally published Dec. 7, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT)