Arie Luyendyk Jr. vied for Emily Maynard‘s heart on season 8 of The Bachelorette. Now, he’s on his own journey to find love on the latest season of The Bachelor — and he’s blogging about it exclusively for PEOPLE! Follow Arie on Twitter at @ariejr.
Paris! A city known for romance and French bread, and I was ready for both. There couldn’t be a more iconic location to fall in love, and after all the craziness of Fort Lauderdale, I was ready to put the drama behind us and really focus on my 10 remaining relationships. I got to the city and went for a run to try and reflect, clear my head and see some sights. The city is beautiful. When I sat down in the park to talk with Chris, I realized just how far we’d come. On the first night, I met 29 beautiful women, and now somehow I was already down to 10. This whole thing was flying by, but thankfully Chris has been in this position with so many Bachelors before. Our talks always helped me sort through my feelings, and this one really helped get me in the right headspace heading into a week that had four dates, including the 2-on-1. Needless to say, this was a big week.
There was so much anticipation going into my first date of the week. Lauren was still a bit of a mystery to me. I really liked her but had no idea if those feelings were mutual. Being The Bachelor doesn’t necessarily mean that the women are into me, and one of my biggest fears going into this was falling for someone who did not reciprocate those feelings. As we took off on the Seine River by motorboat, Lauren told me how anxious she was, and it eased my nerves to know we were feeling the same thing. Walking thru Paris was a really incredible first date. We snapped Polaroids in front of the Notre-Dame de Paris, tried foie gras in a market and fed pigeons while they landed on us. Another fun moment you missed was a street artist drawing our portrait (I think we definitely overpaid). During the day, I was still unsure of where I stood with Lauren. All I wanted was for her to open up and connect with me, and it wasn’t happening. Though the date was fun, I wondered if the public nature of a walking tour made it hard for her to open up.
As I arrived at Le Grand Véfour, one of the oldest and most historic restaurants in the city, I realized there was still so much pressure going into the evening. I still had so much interest in Lauren, but if she didn’t have interest in me, I knew I couldn’t give her a rose. At this stage in the game, getting a rose really means that I see potential for you to be my future wife. I saw so much potential with Lauren, but I feared running out of time. Being vulnerable so quickly is difficult for some people, but one thing we didn’t have the luxury of was lots and lots of time to ease into things.
When I first started on this show, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to talk about one of the darkest periods of my life. But, after wanting Lauren to trust me and be vulnerable for so long, I knew I needed to be the same with her. This journey wasn’t all about the women opening up to me and telling me about their pasts, I had to do the same in order to build a relationship that was strong and real. When Lauren responded by opening up and telling me about her relationship past and her family and why she was so guarded, I finally felt like I was starting to understand her and that our relationship took a giant leap forward.
After such a great first date, I was excited to see what the rest of the week had in store. As much as I loved the giant group dates, it was nice to start having a slightly smaller group so I could spend more individual time with each woman. I had seen the movie Moulin Rouge once, but seeing it 100 times could not have prepared me for the date at the famous French theater. Watching the women’s faces as the Moulin Rouge dancers took the stage was hilarious. They were awestruck. Then, it was their turn. Watching the women grace the stage was equal parts hilarious and inspiring. Special shout-outs to Seinne for killing it, to Jenna for really embracing her crazy costume, and to Tia for … trying. Seriously, Tia was amazing for doing something so far outside of her comfort zone and for rolling with the direction of Miss Janet, the creative director of the Moulin Rouge. I remember how uncomfortable performing Shakespeare was on Emily’s season, so I totally get being less than thrilled to perform on stage.
Going into that evening’s cocktail party, I was stressed. Not only did I have to lip-sync in French while doing choreography in front of a live audience, but I’d be performing with whomever got that night’s rose. I pulled Tia first because we always have a blast, and whenever the pressure of this experience started to weigh me down, she was always someone who could lighten the mood. As always, Tia made me laugh and forget about all the stresses of the evening for a while. I had a great time with all the women but gave Bekah M. the rose because of our continued strong connection. Not only did it feel like we didn’t take a step back after our 1-on-1, but she also opened up to me about her rough week and how difficult this experience could be at times. It also didn’t hurt that I knew she’d kill it on stage.
Performing that night with Bekah M. was a once in a lifetime experience. We were the first non-performers to grace that stage in 167 years and, I have to tell you, the stage managers were very serious about us nailing each and every aspect of our roles. There were so many parts of that night you didn’t see. The hustle and bustle of the backstage was insane. So many incredible performers running by in so many costumes; the man who usually plays my role visited me in the green room and ran me through the last of my choreography; I wasn’t allowed to sit down for fear of wrinkling my outfit. As we waited backstage, a group of mini horses trotted by us, cementing this as a truly bizarre and surreal night. I was so happy Bekah and I could share that moment as it was so intense. After our part, we ran off stage then kissed and laughed behind the curtain, proud and relieved we pulled it off.
Every fan of The Bachelor knows that the 2-on-1 can be really difficult and awkward. To be honest, I had been slightly worried about it the whole time. That said, I knew that with the right perspective it could be a really positive experience. The beautiful Chateau De Breteuil in the French countryside had remarkable art, landscapes and even a really awesome hedge maze. Even though the date is inherently kind of awkward, I wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable and still had a great time in a beautiful setting. I really wanted to get to know Kendall more and, at the same time, evaluate if my relationship with Krystal was too broken to fix. After an amazing start, we took a major step back in Fort Lauderdale, and this was our last chance to possibly recover.
Despite the intensity of the date, Kendall was cool, confident and relaxed enough for us to grow significantly closer. I know most of you guys may see her as the quirky taxidermy girl, but she is so much more than that. She’s intelligent, funny and always full of facts. Her ability to articulate her thoughts impressed me so much, and I felt so much potential in our relationship that day. I was still worried about her lack of a previous long-term relationship, but her viewpoint on marriage and “when” a person is ready was really refreshing. Watching it all back, I didn’t realize just how contentious things were with Kendall and Krystal. I am so impressed with Kendall’s ability to stick up for herself and for me and for all the other women on the show.
When it comes down to it, I just knew I’d never be able to really trust Krystal again. There were too many red flags at this point and, though I tried, I could not get over her meltdown in Fort Lauderdale. I wanted to give myself a chance to get over that incident and see if we could recover, but none of her apologies were able to repair what was broken. Though I once had very strong feelings for her, those feelings were now gone. It was time to say goodbye. Ultimately, I had to remember why I came on the show in the first place. I was here to find a wife, not a drama queen.
My decision wasn’t just based on needing to say goodbye to Krystal. I also needed to keep seeing Kendall. My feelings for her were growing more and more every day. Getting to end the night kissing Kendall on top of the Eiffel Tower was pure bliss. We literally ran across town to catch the last elevator up and made it to our platform just in time to be able to kiss while overlooking Paris. What a beautiful end to a really stressful day.
As I drove the streets of Paris in an old Triumph (English-made, for the record), I was really looking forward to the standard 1-on-1 after the stressful day before. I really wanted to have a great day with Jacqueline, someone who I had been hoping to connect with for a while. I know you haven’t seen much of Jacqueline on the show, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t notice her. Jacqueline intrigued me early on, whether it was her feeding me aphrodisiacs by the fire or making me a personalized chocolate Rorschach test. I knew she was smart, classy and beautiful, and I couldn’t wait to build upon our solid foundation.
I arrived and picked up Jacqueline, and about 15 seconds into our date, the car decided it had other plans. After about an hour of me under the hood, we decided to abandon our car and do Paris via Uber! Seriously, though, as much as it sucked to have the car break down, it was amazing that Jacqueline rolled with the punches and laughed it off. I was only slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to roll around the Arc de Triomphe with the top down.That would’ve been pretty incredible.
Through the grapevine (the other women told me), I found out that Jacqueline really wanted to go to Maxim’s, so I planned the date around surprising her with that. She told me that it was known for its Art Nouveau collection and it was a place where novelists, artists, playwrights, painters and celebrities would socialize and drink scotch and smoke cigars. Though you didn’t see it, I can’t promise we didn’t partake in such traditions.
My conversations with Jacqueline were real and deep. We spoke of our potential future and how incredibly different our lives were. Going into this, I wanted to find someone with a similar lifestyle, and with Jacqueline I couldn’t have found someone more different. She still wanted to complete six years of school without knowing where that would be, but my life is pretty rooted in Scottsdale. We talked about literature and her romance with the written word and how her world related to it. I almost felt intimidated by her intellect. Even though I knew we were worlds apart and that our lives didn’t mesh well, I just couldn’t let her go. The romantic in me saw something more than just the obstacles we would face, I saw a woman with huge, beautiful brown eyes and so much depth. I needed to spend more time with her. Giving her that rose was such an easy decision. I just wanted her to feel confident, because I felt so much for her in that moment.
The rose ceremony in Paris was at the Musée des Arts Forains, a museum filled with old circus attractions and amusement park rides. Walking through it, I saw so many pieces from old time French carnivals. It was so weird going to a rose ceremony and having so few roses to hand out. That first night, the pile was so large, and now there were just a few. At this point in the journey, the goodbyes were so much harder than before. I’ve spent so much time and had so many amazing moments with all of the remaining women. Jenna was so fun and energetic and beautiful, but I just knew she wasn’t going to be my lifelong partner. I’m so glad to have met her and really hope she finds what she is looking for. Saying goodbye to Chelsea was really hard, but I knew it was the right thing to do. At the beginning of our relationship, I promised her that as soon as I knew that it wasn’t her at the end, I’d let her know and let her go back to Sammy. Chelsea is strong, intelligent and sexy, but my gut told me that it wasn’t us at the end. I have so much respect for her and cannot stress more what a truly wonderful person she is.
After what was one of the most stressful weeks of my life, I didn’t think being The Bachelor could get any crazier. Of course, I was totally wrong. Come join me next week to see some of the most dramatic moments yet. I say goodbye to someone I potentially saw myself with at the end and have my most heart-wrenching goodbye of the season, which caused me to break down. The excitement and stress mounts because I have just one week left to sort out my feelings and relationships before hometowns. Trust me, the decisions are not easy, and you won’t want to miss it. Thanks for reading.
The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.