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Tuesday, January 9, 2024

How Shaun White Found a Winning Partner in Nina Dobrev

Shaun White & Nina Dobrev’s Love Story TIMELINE

Spend enough time dating in Hollywood, and you’ll come up with a plan for how to deal when a relationship goes sideways. 

Nina Dobrev ↗‘s strategy, for instance, involves her passport. The Bulgaria-born, Canada-bred actress has “been kind of all over,” she shared in a 2018 interview with Cosmopolitan. “I don’t often splurge on material things; I splurge on flights and travel. I’ve been to Thailand, Japan, Australia, Brussels, Switzerland. [I like] discovering new cultures, meeting new people, getting away from my normal schedule.” 

As in, having no schedule at all, which is what she does when she’s off-the-clock. “I’m one of those people who works hard and plays hard—I go 130 percent in either direction,” she continued, noting that wanderlust hits even harder when she’s recovering from a split. Asked to share her tried-and-true breakup strategy, she told the mag, “A plane ticket, a glass of tequila and a group of girlfriends.”

Though having a promising new romantic prospect tag along works as well. 

Like clockwork in early 2020, some three months removed from the end of a one-year romance ↗ with writer-director Grant Mellon, the actress booked it to a new adventure in South Africa.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as she posted ‘grams from her trip to Cheetah Outreach ↗ and an early morning hike to the top of Lions Head Mountain ↗. But as she continued to share snapshots from her safari getaway, a few of her more eagle-eyed followers noted that Olympian Shaun White seemed to be mirroring the actress’ trip over on his own feed, down to the artsy, magic-hour solo shot in the middle of Kruger National Park. 


At first glance, The Vampire Diaries alum ↗, marking her 35th birthday Jan. 9, and the three-time Olympic gold medalist, 37, may not have seemed like obvious travel buddies—much less a winning match. And yet, four years into their coupling, Dobrev’s pals are enthusiastically rooting them on.  

The actress having dated TVD costar Ian Somerhalder ↗ for three years, followed by relationships with actors Austin StowellGlen Powell and then filmmaker Mellon, “Shaun is a departure from previous guys Nina has been with,” a source told E! News ↗ in March 2020. “Her friends are pleasantly surprised.”

Dobrev and White, meanwhile, are just plain thrilled that their tentative, let’s-see-where-this-goes connection has blossomed into a full-fledged thing, something they didn’t quite expect when they were ringing in 2020 together in Las Vegas, introduced by mutual friends.

“They eased into the relationship slowly,” an insider explained to E! News ↗. But once quarantine hit, the absence of work and most social gatherings gave them nothing but time together. Said the insider, “Things have really accelerated during this social distancing period.” 

And having checked off all the necessarily couple milestones (first Thanksgiving? ↗ Yup! Joint Christmas? ↗ Uh-huh. Massive house reno? ↗ Why not?), there’s just one big one looming. 

“They are genuinely so in love and are so cute together,” a source told E! News ↗ in late 2020. “They openly talk about their future together. They’re just super happy, and things are going really well with them.”

Which, maybe we should have seen this coming?  

Because tell us she wasn’t describing the 11-time ESPY winner when she detailed her ideal partner to Cosmo back in 2013, saying, “You either have chemistry or you don’t, but a lot of what attracts me is a guy’s mind and humor and talent.” Perhaps a record-breaking 15 gold X Games medals?

And while the actress appreciated “a man in a suit looking put together and dapper,” she said, “I also kind of like the I-just-rolled-out-of-bed, a-little-bit-of-scruff, effortless, not-trying-hard-but-still-sexy guy.”


Dobrev checks off White’s boxes as well. 

During his Olympic run in 2018, the athlete described to People what kept his relationship with then-girlfriend Phantogram rocker Sarah Barthel, gliding along. “We live in two different worlds, so that’s why it’s nice to come together and share stories from the road,” he explained. And though Dobrev is an avid snowboarder herself, safe to say she won’t be critiquing White’s Double McTwist 1260. 

White also said he appreciates someone who not only gets his peripatetic lifestyle, but lives it themselves: “It’s nice to not have somebody like, ‘When are you coming home?'” he noted. “They get it, they understand being on the road.”

And he just might have found that forgiving, adventurous partner in Dobrev.  Because, as it turns out, their list of commonalities extends far beyond equally demanding careers and a stamp-filled passport. “Nina and Shaun share a lot of similarities,” the insider tells E! News, “they are both very positive, and social and enjoy spending time outdoors and staying active.”

How Nina Dobrev’s BF Shaun White Helped Her Prep for New Movie

And while Dobrev can’t exactly lay claim to three Olympic gold medals, she does know how to shred. 

“I actually have been snowboarding since I was really little,” she revealed while stopping by E!’s Daily Pop in 2022. “I skied first and then I switched over to snowboarding at probably 8 or 9.”

Which was a fun surprise for White the first time they took to the slopes. “He was expecting to wait for me and it was quite the opposite,” she shared. “I had already passed him by a landslide. Now I can keep up!”

With so many dizzying adventures, it can be tricky to keep pace with the travel-loving pair. Unintentionally going public with their coupling ↗ in March 2020—a joint bike ride in Malibu blowing their cover—the duo pretty much gave up on pretending they weren’t exploring the country together, each posting about their spring “#QuaranTrip” through Lake Powell, Utah, Nevada and Arizona’s Red Rock State Park as well as that July 4 snowboarding getaway. 

By late May, they’d fully ripped the band-aid off, giving fans a peek at Dobrev’s hairdresser skills in their first joint ‘gram ↗. “Nina doesn’t take sharing her personal life very lightly,” the insider explains to E! News. “It shows how happy and secure she is with Shaun and their relationship that she is willing to take this step.”

Nina Dobrev / Instagram

And that chemistry Dobrev mentioned? It’s certainly there, as evidenced by their August 2020 ocean romp ↗ in Mexico—a piggyback ride and deep water smooch the stuff of rom-com highlight reels. 

“Nina and Shaun complement each other very well,” the insider told E! News. “They have similar energy, they both are fun, low-maintenance people who like to laugh.” 

Not to mention, they’re supportive AF. Though COVID protocols prevented Dobrev from joining her man at his fifth ↗—and final!—Olympic Games in Beijing ↗, she sent him off with quite the farewell. “My sendoff to China was just so beautiful,” he raved on Today. “She made this incredible video of all my friends and family. Really incredible.”

Because that’s how she sees him. “I am really excited for him,” she said during her appearance ↗ on E!’s Daily Pop. “Just to get into the Olympics at all is one of the hugest accomplishments, let alone to get in five times. I’m so excited. I’m so proud of him.”


It’s a love he could feel all the way in China. 

“I wish she could have been here,” White said on Today. “She was trying her hardest to sneak in somehow. But, you know, she’s been so supportive and so wonderful, really just in my corner every step of the way.”

(This story was originally published on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020 at 12 a.m. PT.)

BFIA Admin
BFIA Admin
The big boss.

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