Pavelka tells PEOPLE he and Jones, who held hands and sat in the audience for Dancing's 200th episode extravaganza, met "a couple months ago and we just clicked." Meeting his new girlfriend away from cameras "is nice," he says. "It’s normal."
The Dallas pilot – who endured a nasty split with fiancée Vienna Girardi in June – has been keeping a low profile the past several months, focusing on "flying planes and training and competing in triathlons."
Pavelka, who had a guest-starring stint on Drop Dead Diva last August, says he's still pursuing acting and working on a new series. "I can't tell you anything more about it yet," he says, adding that "it's 18 episodes."
For now, he's focusing on his budding relationship. The couple's distance – Pavelka has homes in Los Angeles and Dallas – hasn't been a problem.
"I am from here. I have family in Orange County," Jones says, noting that the two will spend Thanksgiving together in California.
"My parents are coming out and my brother is still here," Pavelka says. He's also taking his special lady on a spontaneous adventure.
"I think tomorrow we may skip town. One of the greatest things about being a pilot is being able to jump on a plane to Australia spur of the moment," Pavelka says. "We may go there or Bangkok or Bali. We've been looking at the weather so that will help us decide."