If you wanted to know what a difference a year can make, just look at Whitney Way Thore.
Around 365 days ago, the My Big Fat Fabulous Life star was about to find out her ex-fiancé Chase Severino had officially welcomed a child with another woman. Although she was well aware by that point that there was a baby on the way—they had ended their engagement after all—the final blow was no less upsetting. But that was then.
"I remember this time last year I thought, 'Lord, I will never date anyone ever again for the rest of my life,'" Thore told E! News in an exclusive interview. "It was amazing how quickly I was able to heal from all that, so I'm really happy about it."
What about the man she once planned to marry? "I don't want this to sound bad," she prefaced, "but I feel almost nothing toward him, really. I just feel very neutral. No real negative feelings and I think that's—to me—that was really evidence of the fact that I was able to move on and have feelings for someone else."
If you've been paying attention to the 37-year-old TV star's Instagram feed or caught the newly aired first episode of the show's ninth season, you know there's a new guy in her life. She hasn't yet revealed the identity of her man—who would like to stay a private person—but Thore did divulge some other key details, including that he lives in his native France and that they met on a language exchange platform.
"It was definitely not something that I would have anticipated," she said of the new romance, "but I think one thing COVID kind of forced people to do is to seek connection maybe in ways that they would not have before."
Thore realized "pretty soon" that she was crushing on her new language partner. "As soon as we both admitted it," she said, "it went pretty quickly from tutor to suitor."
And don't worry about anything getting lost in translation, either. "His English is [so] perfect that he doesn't even sound French. In fact, he'll put on the French-to-English accent as a joke for me and do it and we laugh about it," she said. "He actually grew up with one of his friends who had an American mom, so he almost grew up bilingual spending so much time there with the friends."
"Luckily, because he is so fluent—he loves American media, TV, movies, whatever—there's just...nothing is lost on him, so there's absolutely no language barrier," she confirmed, "except for when I was in France trying to speak French. That's the only barrier there was."
Now, fresh off that transatlantic trip, which included meeting in person, Thore confirmed they are indeed dating. "I'm glad that I pursued the whole thing. I would definitely have regretted it if I didn't," she said before teasing, "but it was a roller coaster. There were lots of ups and downs that you'll be able to see throughout the season."
But you won't see her new man. "He's blurred on TV. I have him hidden on my social media, like, his face," she said. "I've gotten so many interesting reactions to that." As Thore explained to E! News, some critics tried to say his desire for privacy was him not wanting to be seen in public with her—except that the photo she shared was of them in front of the Louvre.
"There's hundreds of tourists in front of the Louvre, so he has no problem being in public with me," she defended. "But that's very different than going on a global television show or being posted on an Instagram with over a million followers. In this internet world, I just feel like people are so used to having no privacy that we forget that not everybody wants that.
"He just doesn't want to be served up to millions of people to be picked apart the way that people do," she reiterated. "It's interesting to navigate and tricky."
Thanks to her recent IVF journey, Thore understands tricky. However, after navigating all the pain and steps of the process, her egg retrieval was a success. "I got my eggs extracted and frozen," she confirmed, "and they are on ice and ready to go."
Just as important, it gave the star some peace of mind. "I'm 37 and not in a position right now where I'm having children with a partner," she explained. "I've had a lot of anxiety the older I get and thinking to myself that my opportunity to have children could just be taken away from me, whether that's like biologically or because I don't have a partner."
As for when she'd want to pursue motherhood with the help of a surrogate, she has an inkling she'd want to before 40. Though, she's hesitant to impose a time line on herself. "I've got to remember that life has a time line all of its own," she noted, "so I'm kind of open to anything."
The new season of My Big Fat Fabulous Life airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on TLC.