Love Is Blind's Giannina Gibelli Wanted to Have Her 'Heart Open' to Love After Damian Powers Split
A tough breakup didn't keep Giannina Gibelli from embracing love again.
The pair became engaged but Damian, 31, chose to not go through with marrying Giannina while at the altar. Though they continued to date thereafter, their rough patch became a focal point in the Love Is Blind: After the Altar special last year.
Giannina confirmed the end of their relationship in August 2021. But that split never stopped her from remaining open to the possibility of love, which is something she happened upon while competing on MTV's new All Star Store series.
"I've always had the philosophy of, it doesn't matter what happened in the past. It depends on what you do with it, moving forward," she tells PEOPLE exclusively. "I just didn't want to be bitter. I wanted to always have my heart open and to be able to let love in, in whatever shape or form that may be, because that's just the sweet part of life."
She continues, "And to be surrounded by so much love, I didn't want to be naïve, but I wanted to, again, test myself and see, Okay, is this going to get me closer to the love that I've been searching for? I didn't want to close that off, just because I was in front of the TV again. You never know what could happen."
Giannina firmly believes that "everything happens for a reason." Fortunately for her, she says she "just so happened to find a really good part of that on the show," which involves several reality stars from popular franchises competing across party challenges to win a cash prize.
PEOPLE confirmed in January that she's dating her All Star Shore costar Blake Horstmann. While the pair didn't publicize their love right away, Giannina notes that it was "the worst-kept secret ever."
"He's just such a genuine person, and he's just a delight to be around that I genuinely wanted to get to know him and to be around his energy, and he felt very comfortable," she says. "Within the first couple of hours of meeting him, we were already next to each other, like Velcro. We were like sticky tape, all the time."
But Giannina also found love through friendship on the new reality competition series. "We are all in one big group chat. We send each other funny things, but we actually did a trip to Mexico in February with all of us," she shares.
"That was really fun because we miss each other and we needed more of that. That was a really big reason why I went on this show, too, because I wanted to find new people that had gone through similar experiences, but know what life is like," she continues. "And we all get to enjoy and understand what it means when I say, 'Oh, I'm stressed out about this,' or, 'I'm really excited.' 'How did you deal with X, Y, and Z?' You're really in a group of your comrades and your friends. It feels really good after that."
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All Star Shore premieres Wednesday on Paramount+.
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