She became a topic after it was revealed that he and partner Daniella Karagach would be performing to The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” as part of last week’s “Villain Night” theme.
“Me and Shantel love that record,” he said before talking about life with his girlfriend of about six years.
“I would not want my life to not have Shantel in it,” he said. “We’ve been seeing each other for five or six years. Any time you can connect with somebody like that, it works out for the long run. She’s sweet, beautiful, and the more we got to know each other, she’s just as beautiful inside.”
Shantel also made an appearance to share her thoughts on her love, Cornell.
“Even though he has this rap persona, he’s the biggest sweetheart, the biggest goofball,” she said in a confessional clip. “We just get each other [laughs].”
When asked if Shantel is “the one” by his dance partner Daniella, he said, “Yeah.”
He dedicated his performance to her and ended up getting his highest scores of the season.
During an interview after the fact with Entertainment Tonight, he elaborated on what he appreciates about his longtime girlfriend.
“We have so much in common,” he said. “She grew up in the inner city, she knows what it’s like to go through certain things in life when you grow up in the inner city.
“She’s very driven, very passionate about the things she does and she doesn’t accept anything but wanting to be better,” he added. “And that’s what I love. That’s exactly what I love.”
Despite all that, and confirming she’s “the one,” when asked about the likelihood of marrying her, he couldn’t say that so confidently.
“We’re working towards it,” he said. “When we know, I’ll tell you.”
Looking towards marriage has never really been Nelly’s thing. He was with singer Ashanti for at least 10 years and was reportedly with actress and video model Lashontae Heckard for a number of years. It’s not something he seems to desire, as he made clear when asked about marriage in 2017. If it isn’t guaranteed to be a forever thing, he’s avoiding the idea of saying “I do” like the plague.
“The thing about marriage to me is … I take it very, very seriously. It’s something I’m only doing one time,” he told PEOPLE at the time. “For me, it’s almost like society would prefer you to have been married and got divorced and tried it then to be married and stay married. For me, it’s more important to die married than to have been married and it didn’t work out. I want to leave this place knowing I was in love and somebody loved me and we were together, then to be like, ‘Well I’m never getting married again and I’m ruined.’”
“If it happens, when it happens, that’s it!” he added. “She’s locked in man, she’s trapped. Death do you part is serious around here!”