Entertainment

Mama June Has a New Man: 'He Restored Our Faith When We Thought There Were No Good Men Left'

Emily Strohm
People

Mama June Shannon has a new man in her life!

“He’s my rock and my best friend,” Shannon, 38, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “We’re together 24 hours a day.”

“I mean it’s kind of weird that we don’t really have to do anything. We can just chill at the house, or chill with the kids, or just go to the store,” says Shannon, who is mom to Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, 12, Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon, 18, Jessica, 20, and Anna, 23.

“I’ve never been able to enjoy somebody as much as I have him,” she shares.

Although Shannon is happily in love, the past few years has been an emotional time for the mother of four.

In 2014, her family’s TLC reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was abruptly canceled after she was accused of dating a man who had been convicted of molesting her oldest daughter Anna, an allegation she strenuously denied.

Later, when she split from her on-again, off-again beau Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson, Alana’s father, after a stint on Marriage Boot Camp in 2016, Shannon accused him of physical abuse. Thompson, who married Jennifer Lamb earlier this year, denies the allegations.

  • For more on Mama June, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

According to Shannon, Alana and Pumpkin were initially skeptical of their mother’s new romance.

“It’s just been me and the girls for so long, and we’ve been though a lot,” she explains. “It’s hard to be able to trust somebody, and it was a lot of walls that he had to break down with me and the girls, honestly.”

“He restored our faith when we thought there were no good men left out there,” says Shannon.

This winter, Shannon’s new boyfriend will be making his reality TV debut when he is introduced sometime on season 2 of Mama June: From Not to Hot, which premieres Jan. 12 — and she assures that the cameras don’t faze him.

“He didn’t know who Mama June was when I met him. His kids did, but he had no idea who I was. And that’s what I like about it. We grew up in the same town but didn’t know one another,” she says. “He doesn’t care about me being famous, or anything about it. He’s having fun with it.”

Shannon, who has maintained her drastic weight loss over the course of the past year — she dropped 300 lbs. from her onetime high of 460 lbs. in 2016 — is happily enjoying this new stage of life.

“For the first time in a long, long, long time, I’m happy,” she says.

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