Exclusive

Find Out the Real Reason Markelle Left 12 Dates of Christmas

He just needed a 13th date for the holidays! 12 Dates of Christmas star Markelle Smith reveals why he left the dating competition series and gives a relationship update. Watch now!

By Samantha Bergeson Nov 28, 2021 7:00 PMTags
Watch: "12 Dates of Christmas": Why Markelle Smith Left the Series

Sometimes a dozen dates just isn't enough. 

Spoilers: 12 Dates of Christmas season two star Markelle Smith exclusively revealed to E! News why he left the HBO Max dating competition series halfway through.  

"My decision to leave the show was purely based off of analyzing my connections with everyone in the lodge and just seeing the potential daters there," Markelle explained on Nov. 22. "I think when it came down to it, my feelings for my ex ended up trumping any of the connections that I had made in the lodge."

The New York-based dentist added, "One of the biggest things I learned during this experience is that for a relationship to be successful, chemistry is not enough, love is not enough. It takes so much more than an attraction and a connection for a serious relationship to be successful. That's when I decided to leave and give someone else the shot at potentially falling in love or taking someone home for the holidays." 

One of Markelle's suitors, Pinij, was promoted to the new lead to find someone special to take home for the holidays.

photos
Reality TV Couple Check In: Who's Still Together and Who Split in 2020

Markelle's co-stars Amanda Grace Jenkins and Danny Escalante struggled to see him leave mid-season. 

Instagram

"We had such a close relationship because you're going through the same types of things and you're kind of cut off in a way," Danny revealed. "We don't spend a ton of time with our daters, our love interests. We spend more time with each other, and going through something that requires you to expose yourself so much, there's just a camaraderie and a comfort level."

In fact, Markelle's departure caused Danny to consider calling it quits too. 

"When I found out Markelle was leaving, I was totally shocked by it. I'm not going to lie, there was a moment when I thought to myself, 'You know what? Take me with you,'" Danny opened up. "It actually was kind of difficult, but I was really happy that Pinij had the opportunity and it ended up working out. And I'm happy that Markelle was making the decision to pursue something for him and really just overall proud of how he handled it."  

photos
2022 TV Premiere Dates

Amanda added, "For me, after connecting with Markelle, it was really tough to see him go. But I also understood why, and it was really beautiful to see him just let go of that and give that opportunity to someone else. I was really excited and happy for the new lead stepping up and hoping there would be some connections found there." 

Markelle joked that Danny and Pinij were "bros from the get-go," and hinted that Pinij found a love story of his own after stepping into the spotlight. 

HBO Max

So what happened with Markelle and his ex?

"We are not together anymore," Markelle confirmed. "We tried it out for a few months after the show. It was just one of those things where we had to have those tough conversations and I had to have tough conversations with myself and realize this maybe wasn't the right romantic relationship for me. But he played a major role in my life and that's what I'll truly take moving forward." 

We're already hoping to see Markelle back under the 12 Dates mistletoe for season three

12 Dates of Christmas is now streaming on HBO Max.

Get the drama behind the scenes. Sign up for TV Scoop!