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By Drew Mackie

So how has Bristol Palin been filling her spare hours since "Dancing with the Stars" began? You know -- aside from the whole not-voting thing.

All season long, Bristol has been dogged by the rumors that she's secretly dating her partner, dance pro Mark Ballas. You have to admit, it requires the tiniest of mental leaps to imagine a male-female on-camera, on-the-dance-floor pair blossoming into something more intimate. Yet the rumors stick more to Bristol and Ballas than they do, say, the chronically single Brandy and her hunky partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. (And the less said about a Florence Henderson-Corky Ballas hookup, the better.)

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The hookup rumor appeared in the Nov. 9 gossip page of the New York Post, with the standard anonymous source weighing in on Bristol and Ballas's backstage behavior. "They looked very close, flirty and cuddly when the cameras weren't on them," Mr. Anonymous Source said. The article goes on to cite Bristol's kinda-sorta denial on "Ellen" that the pair had been practicing their cha-cha-cha in the bedroom as well as in the studio: "It's really hard for me to want to date after the situation I had myself in. I'm not worried about a boyfriend right now." So as far as Page Six is concerned, the hookup rumor remains just that: unverifiable but very present.

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Really, Page Six wasn't reporting anything new. Before the season even started, the allegations that Bristol was having more than just a ball had already begun. Perhaps it's Ballas's fault, since he made less-than-definitive statements to E! Online the day of the season premiere. "We are not dating, but we are having a good time," he said. What should we have made of that? I mean, maybe they're not boyfriend and girlfriend, but Ballas's answer certainly doesn't rule out the possibility that all that stretching and gyrating might have been put to a non-"DWTS" use.

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And then there's the public perception of Bristol: She's a "teen abstinence advocate," yet the only thing we really know about her -- other than her "DWTS" career -- is that she (at least once) had sex without the proper precautions. (*Ahem* -- we mean a wedding ring here.) That makes a disparity between her actions, and its one that this writer can't shake. For one, her dances are decidedly sexy, that one with the monkey suits notwithstanding. Similarly, Bristol famously once told People magazine that viewers should expect her to "be the most dressed contestant and have the most modest outfits… because that's who I am." Contrast that against what she eventually did wear on the show -- nothing she'd also wear to church, I'd imagine -- and the fact that she probably wasn't wearing a pilgrim frock when Baby Tripp was conceived, and you have a young woman whose actions don't jive with her words, at least when it comes to sex.

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Of course, this isn't anything to write home to Ma Palin about yet, but it's worth a moment of consideration. Who is this girl? Will we ever think of her and not immediately jump to her sex life? And given that she's remained on the show longer than many of us might have expected, could the allure of something sexy happening behind the scenes be what's kept her on the dance floor for so long?

Follow Drew Mackie on his Twitter account and on the Wonderwall Twitter account.