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Alexis Bellino and John Janssen Talk Romance Backlash During Red Carpet Debut: 'Take Us or Leave Us' (Exclusive)

The pair opened up to PEOPLE on Sunday about the negativity they've experienced since going public with their romance

<p>Amanda Edwards/Getty </p> Alexis Bellino and John Janssen attend the DIRECTV

Amanda Edwards/Getty

Alexis Bellino and John Janssen attend the DIRECTV 'Streaming with the Stars' Oscars event at Spago on March 10, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California.

Alexis Bellino and John Janssen aren't listening to the noise surrounding their romance.

On Sunday, The Real Housewives of Orange County duo made their red carpet couple debut at the DIRECTV Streaming with the Stars Oscars Viewing Party — a milestone they tell PEOPLE they were happily celebrating.

"We're finally at a point where we feel comfortable enough to be like, 'Here we are,' " says Bellino, noting how their romance was first made public when fans shared photos of their date nights. "Those were all by other people, this was our choice to come out tonight. And we couldn't be happier or more in love."

They certainly were inseparable at the event, holding hands all night at Spago in Beverly Hills, California, and posing for photographers with their arms around one another. Bellino, 47, wore a yellow and silver sequin mini dress with a plunging neckline and chain details, while Janssen, 61, kept it classic and monochromatic in a grey suit with light grey shirt.

<p>Amanda Edwards/Getty </p> Alexis Bellino and John Janssen attend the DIRECTV 'Streaming with the Stars' Oscars event at Spago on March 10, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California

Amanda Edwards/Getty

Alexis Bellino and John Janssen attend the DIRECTV 'Streaming with the Stars' Oscars event at Spago on March 10, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California

Related: Alexis Bellino Dating John Janssen, Shannon Beador's Ex, amid Rumored RHOC Return (Exclusive)

Bravo fans have been abuzz about their pairing since the two met through mutual friends in November 2023. PEOPLE confirmed the two were dating that December, sharing an exclusive photo of them posing arm in arm.

Bellino and Janssen's romance come after they both experience heartbreak.

In September, PEOPLE confirmed Bellino and her fiancé Andy Bohn had split, ending their engagement three years after he proposed in December 2020.

Meanwhile, Janssen previously dated RHOC star Shannon Storms Beador for three and a half years. He pulled the plug on their romance in November 2022, a week after filming wrapped on season 17 of the hit Bravo series. The two remained friends but stopped speaking in late September, not long after her she was arrested for a DUI.

<p>Nydia Alvarez</p> Alexis Bellino and John Janssen, in a photo shared exclusively with PEOPLE in December 2023

Nydia Alvarez

Alexis Bellino and John Janssen, in a photo shared exclusively with PEOPLE in December 2023

It's Janssen's previous relationship with Storms Beador, 59, that has placed controversy on his romance with Bellino.

After news broke they were dating, RHOC fans questioned their coupling on social media. Storms Beador even slammed Janssen in the press for dating Bellino, telling E! News in December that she's "hurt" and still trying to figure out "how to process" the romance after Janssen told her he didn't want to be in the public eye anymore.

Other RHOC stars, including Storms Beador's friend Vicki Gunvalson, have also come out against Bellino and Janssen.

None of the remarks are phasing the happy couple now — though Bellino admits to PEOPLE on Sunday they "crawled in a hole" at first. "I would say it's been bad, but at some point you get numb and then you make the decision just to not look at it," says Janssen. "You have to not look at it. We're focused on each other."

"A hundred percent, I couldn't have said it better," adds Bellino. "We did take it kind of slow, as far as wanting America to know exactly where we stood. And now we're at the point where it's like, we're focused on the future and we're moving forward. You either take us or leave us; you either accept that we're dating or you hate it. But if you don't want us to be together, then swipe left on the Instagram — don't follow my page. Turn the other way if you don't like it, because here we are."

<p> Alexis Bellino/Instagram</p> Alexis Bellino and John Janssen

Alexis Bellino/Instagram

Alexis Bellino and John Janssen

Related: Alexis Bellino Returning to RHOC as a Friend amid Relationship with Costar Shannon Beador's Ex

Bellino is returning to RHOC for season 18 as a Friend of the show, after departing the series in season 8.

That's put her face to face with Storms Beador and Gunvalson, with whom she says she's already filmed. "You'll just have to wait to see what happens," Bellino teases.

Gunvalson, 61, was also at Sunday's DIRECTV party — though the couple kept their distance from "The OG of the OC."

"I don't mind seeing Vicki, but I don't appreciate the characterization she'd made about Alexis and myself and our relationship," notes Janssen. "Not appreciated and inaccurate."

As for Storms Beador's claim that Janssen is dating Bellino for fame, he denies that. "I've been accused of wanting to be in front of the camera, but you'll have to watch the show and see if that's true," says Janssen, Bellino noting that "You won't really see him."

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Past seasons of The Real Housewives of Orange County can be streamed on Peacock.

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Read the original article on People.