EXCLUSIVE: Scotty McCreery finally opens up about his longtime girlfriend -- and the time he almost quit 'American Idol'

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EXCLUSIVE: Scotty McCreery Talks Longtime Girlfriend and How He Almost Quit 'American Idol'

Scotty McCreery has been tight-lipped about his love life, until now.

"When we first started dating, I was 17 years old -- 18 years old, just kinda been thrust into the limelight, and I said, 'Look, we can call the magazines and have a photo shoot, or we can just kinda keep it on the down low,'" the American Idol alum told ET at the Academy of Country Music Awards earlier this year. "We decided to keep it low-key, but we've been together four and a half years now, so I figure it's time to talk a little bit more about her."

WATCH: All the Clues 'American Idol' Might Be Coming Back

Scotty, 22, gets candid about his relationship with girlfriend Gabi (whom he met in Kindergarten, by the way) in his new book, Go Big or Go Home, but stops just short of spilling all.

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EXCLUSIVE: Scotty McCreery finally opens up about his longtime girlfriend -- and the time he almost quit 'American Idol'
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon performs coronation song onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon (R), host Ryan Seacrest (L) and finalist La'Porsha Renae speak onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon (C) performs coronation song with cast of Season 15 onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon (R) and finalist La'Porsha Renae embrace onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
George Huff performs at the "American Idol" farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Trent Harmon, winner of "American Idol" The Farewell Season celebrates with fellow contestants during the season finale at the Dolby Theatre on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Ryan Seacrest, left, and Carrie Underwood speak at the "American Idol" farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Kris Allen performs at the "American Idol" farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
William Hung performs at the "American Idol" farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Season 1 judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson and the cast of Season 15 present host Ryan Seacrest with a gift onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 7: Judge Jennifer Lopez performs onstage at FOX's American Idol Season 15 Finale on April 7, 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/FOX via Getty Images)
Phillip Phillips performs at the "American Idol" farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artists Keith Urban (L) and Carrie Underwood perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Host Ryan Seacrest (L) and Brian Dunkleman speak onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Recording artists Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban enter onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Actress/singer Jennifer Lopez greets fans onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Singers Trent Harmon (L) and La'Porsha Renae perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Host Ryan Seacrest (L) and Brian Dunkleman speak onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Singers Trent Harmon (L) and La'Porsha Renae perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Fans attend FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Recording artists Pia Toscano, Kimberley Locke, Allison Iraheta, Jordin Sparks and Tamyra Gray perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Recording artists Jordin Sparks, Allison Iraheta, Tamyra Gray and Justin Guarini perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist Jordin Sparks performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist Pia Toscano performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist Jordin Sparks performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artists Justin Guarini (R) and Jordin Sparks perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist Colton Dixon performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artists Kimberley Locke (L) and Allison Iraheta perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist Chris Daughtry performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Singer Bo Bice performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Recording artists Caleb Johnson, Constantine Maroulis, Chris Daughtry, James Durbin and Bo Bice perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artists Constantine Maroulis (L) and James Durbin perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist James Durbin performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Recording artists Bucky Covington, Ace Young, Constantine Maroulis and Scotty McCreery perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist Jessica Sanchez performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Singer Carly Smithson performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artists Katharine McPhee (L) and Casey James perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 7: Judge Jennifer Lopez performs onstage at FOX's American Idol Season 15 Finale on April 7, 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/FOX via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Singers Marley Fletcher (L) and Harry Connick, Jr. perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artist Fantasia performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Singer Candice Glover performs onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Host Ryan Seacrest speaks in the audience during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon (R), host Ryan Seacrest (L) and finalist La'Porsha Renae speak onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon (R), host Ryan Seacrest (L) and finalist La'Porsha Renae speak onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artists Keith Urban (L) and Carrie Underwood perform onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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"I let her read the chapter and she was all, 'Oh, you've gotta take that out' or 'Nah, that's good,'" he confessed. "Whatever she asks for, she gets."

Scotty even took a break from his grueling publicity tour to attend Gabi's college graduation over the weekend, taking to Instagram to gush over his girl.

WATCH: The Complete List of 'American Idol' Winners - Where Are They Now?

Me and this gal went to elementary, middle, and high school together. We both grew up NC State fans, but in 2012, I went off to NC State, and she went off to UNC-CH. The next 4 years she worked tirelessly at school in Chapel Hill, pursuing her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse. I am so proud of her today as all of her hard work has paid off, and she is now a college graduate! If you know anything about me, you know wearing that shade of blue in chapel hill is something I would normally only do if I lost a bet.. But I was proud to wear it today in support of her graduating from the school of nursing at UNC-CH. I can't wait to see what the future holds for her, but one thing is for certain, she's going to be a great nurse! Congrats Gabi! #ShesStillAPackFan #ThatsMyGirl

A photo posted by Scotty McCreery Official (@scottymccreery) on

"I can't wait to see what the future holds for her, but one thing is for certain, she's going to be a great nurse!" he wrote, sweetly adding the hashtag #ThatsMyGirl.

WATCH: 15 Big Reveals From the 'American Idol' Retrospective Special

Scotty also opens up about why he almost quit American Idol while competing in the show's 10th season.

"You get on the show, and your life changes but you as a person don't have to change," the devout singer says, recalling the time he was assigned to sing the song "Everybody's Talkin'" from the X-rated film Midnight Cowboy. Pushing back against industry heavyweights Jimmy Iovine and Nigel Lythgoe, Scotty flat-out refused to play ball.

"I loved the song, but the background behind it made me a little iffy," he explains. "So I told them I didn't want to sing it. They said, 'You don't have a choice.' I slept on it, still didn't want to sing it, so I told them, 'Well, I'm not going to show up on stage this week.' So I kinda forced their hand a little bit."

Scotty wound up singing George Strait's "I Cross My Heart" that week, and eventually went on to win the Idol crown -- but not before scoring a rave review from Queen Bey herself.

"I just love you, boy," he recalls Beyonce saying during a guest appearance on the show, adding an emphatic "woooh" to make him blush.

Today, the 22-year-old is hard at work on his third studio album.

"The album, we're just about there," he says. "Still got a few more songs to cut, so hopefully [it will be out] soon. Real soon."

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