Love Island star Dami Hope has revealed he "can't be friends" with one of his fellow 2022 Islanders because they have received backlash over the friendship.
Dami finished his villa journey with Indiyah Polack in third place earlier this summer and their relationship has gone from strength to strength, but the former microbiologist admitted he has struggled to maintain his bond with another of the OG villa girls as fans accuse them of being more than friends.
Viewers will remember that Dami established a close friendship with Paige Thorne in the villa, but they faced rumours they secretly fancied each other. Even months later, it seems the pair still can't escape the speculation and it's even lead to Paige refusing to like or comment on Dami's Instagram posts.
"Paige and I can’t even be friends because every time we hang out or speak publicly it’s going to end up with [rumours] that something else is going on," Dami explained.
He told Evening Standard, "Now she can’t even comment on my posts or really like them anymore because she always gets backlash and is afraid of that, you know. I mean it’s silly.
"I feel like a lot of people try to push the narrative that I only actually like white girls because of previous [black male] contestants and so I’m not really into Indiyah. I love black women, so it’s just not true.”
Dami's girlfriend Indiyah also told the publication that the speculation makes her feel uncomfortable even though she trusts both Paige and Dami.
She added, "I’d be lying if I said it didn’t upset me. Dami is my boyfriend. I mean, it’s just me seeing people come up with think-pieces, especially when you’ve lived in a home with someone and you know what they’re like.
"I know Paige is not like that, but it still doesn’t help when you see [the gossip]. Absolutely not. It’s not nice to be on the receiving end of that.”
The pair had one of the strongest platonic relationships of the series, but this is Love Island hunni bun, so naturally these two got the rumour mill spinning on more than one occasion. One of those occasions being when Paige gushed over Dami to her mum during the staple 'Meet the Parents' episode and shared her true feelings towards the Irish hunk on spin-off show Aftersun, shortly after being dumped from the villa.
While talking about how much all this year's Islanders get along, Paige asked her mum, "Have you seen me and Dami together? He's my boy."
Paige was then quizzed on if she'd ever considered coupling up with Dami when she appeared on Aftersun, but she insisted they were just friends.
She responded, "Can you imagine? Not at all. This boy in Casa... no.
Paige then clarified, "We can stay friends. I love him but, boy, no."