Though her relationship with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo only has been cooking since around last Thanksgiving, "It feels like forever," Simpson, 27, tells Glamour magazine for its June issue. "I love this guy. Can you feel it?"
Crediting Romo, 28, with helping her rediscover her inner strength, "What he's done for me is irreplaceable," she says. "He reintroduced me to myself. I thought that I had to be deeper, more profound and more artsy. ... Tony taught me that because he loves me [as me]. He made me feel comfortable [being myself] again.
On the topic of her ex-husband, Nick Lachey, she says, "There's too much competition [with a musician]," while of John Mayer, with whom she was linked on and off for nine months (he recently was spotted in Miami with Jennifer Aniston), she says, "You change with the guys you date. [I thought] I had to be more intellectual."
She tells of meeting Romo after she heard on TV that he had a crush on her – and she thought he was "really cute." They eventually flirted over e-mail and the phone, then set up their first date for Nov. 20, when her entire family went to see Romo play.
Their First KissWhen they finally ended up in the hotel restaurant, "He goes like this across the table," says Simpson, demonstrating how Romo puckered up. "I go, 'What are you doing?' He goes, 'Nothing,' and starts pouting. I said, 'Were you just trying to kiss me in front of all these people?' He goes, 'Maybe.' I'm like, 'Try it again.' "
Looking back, she says, "The fact that this guy, on our first date, in the first 10 minutes of dinner, wanted to lean over the table and say, This is my girl and I want to kiss her – our first kiss in front of everybody – was awesome."