brightcove.createExperiences(); After Ben Higgins made viewers swoon as a fan favorite on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season of The Bachelorette, he’s now on his own journey to love on The Bachelor. He’ll be blogging exclusively about each and every rose ceremony for PEOPLE – check back each week and follow him on Twitter at @benhiggi!
I told you didn’t I?
This week was maybe the biggest game-changer for me of this entire journey. The craziest part? This wasn’t even the hardest or most dramatic week for me. But there is no doubt that this week seriously changed everything more than any other week. I could have said just two weeks ago that either Jubilee or Olivia could have been the one for me but now well, we’ll get to all of that later.
Before we get to any of it though, I just want to say how blown away I was by Mexico City. I knew on this journey I would be going to a lot of amazing places, but I completely underestimated Mexico City. When I thought of Mexico before I thought of beaches and margaritas. Mexico City is such an amazing metropolis. So modern, so much art and the food was unbelievable. And the Four Seasons Hotel blew me away. It was so beautiful and the food there was out of this world. I’m just saying, if you’ve never been and you thought Mexico was just beaches like I did, check this place out. You won’t be disappointed.
I also don’t think I have ever been as excited to go pick up a girl for a one-on-one date in front of all the other women than I was for this one with Amanda. The idea of sneaking up on them and waking them up had me so excited. Maybe totally unreasonably so, but still I was pumped.
And it SO lived up to my expectations! From the retainers (I wear one, too) and the weaves (that no one ever claimed by the way) and hiding under the covers, I was just so impressed that all the women went with the flow and didn’t freak out or get angry.
One of the funniest ones that you didn’t see though was Olivia. I walked into her room, and she was already up (I think going to the bathroom) and so when I walked in, she was so out of it and just stared at me in awe like I was some alien that was walking through her door. I think we both scared each other on that one.
And of course Amanda woke up looking perfect. It was like when you see someone wake up in the movies and it looks like they just went through hair and makeup. I wouldn’t hate waking up to that every day for the rest of my life.
This is a date that I had been saving for Amanda, honestly. I have known that Amanda and I had a great connection from very early on. And I respect her as a mother so incredibly much. It was obvious to me from the moment that she told me about her kids that we had a future together. And knowing that she hadn’t been on a date in so long and that she dedicates so much of her life putting her kids first rather than herself, I just wanted to wow her.
Seeing those pyramids with Amanda from a hot air balloon is a memory I am going to cherish forever. It was not only cool just on the surface but sharing it with a woman like Amanda just took it over the top. Not only did I love having a woman who is so sweet and beautiful by my side, but also I just love how appreciative she is. She doesn’t take anything for granted and I love the idea of being with someone who is so excited for life as Amanda is.
This was not a date where I was really going into it questioning much or wondering if I was going to give her a rose or not. This was more about just progressing our relationship and seeing if this could be my wife or just my girlfriend. That she was able to open up to me about her divorce and her insecurities about all of it really made me admire her and feel much closer to being able to answer that question. And feel really, really great about that answer.
I knew this group date was going to be hard. It’s hard going on a date with multiple women no matter what, but 10 women is hard, especially when I am starting to progress with so many of them. I know I am not going to get much sympathy from many of you, but you really do feel pulled in a lot of different directions.
But I’ve also learned that there is SO much to learn on these big group dates. More than progressing our own relationships, I love seeing how the women are at going with the flow when I surprise them and that was a lot of what the first part of this date was about for me. I knew they all thought today was going to be about cooking, and it was, but I had to throw a little curve ball to keep them on their toes, right? Plus the idea of being in class together seemed fun. We were passing notes and getting caught talking by our teacher, and it just was fun to be kids again. And learn a few things at the same time.
It was a blast and it really did help us get from the university to the restaurant even if it took a while. Most of the people we asked on the street had no idea what we were saying when we asked them where Carbon was. I know it only looked like a few seconds on TV, but we must’ve wandered the streets for at least a half hour before we found it. It really made me wish I spoke Spanish again. And I really should be better at it. I’ve spent time in South America and tried to pick it up but never quite gotten it. I was really regretting that on that date. I hope you could see what a cool place that market is when you were watching though. That wall of herbs especially was insane. So cool.
I thought cooking would be fun since I love to cook, but at this point, the other thing I really learned to start to look for on group dates was which girls were getting along with the others and which isolated themselves or just had tension with everyone else. I know that in a relationship it is generally going to be more than just my wife and me alone together all the time. I want a woman who can be social and get along with others.
So I think you can see where I am going here. And no, I am not talking about Olivia. I have said it before and I will say it again, I cannot be mad at a woman who prioritizes time with me and our relationship moving forward. Who was going to partner with me was definitely an awkward moment, but I didn’t read much into it, nor was I really feeling any serious tension at this point. And any that I did I chalked up mostly to some minor jealousy. In my eyes, everything was fine with Olivia at this point.
No, I am actually talking about Jubilee. I know my decision to let Jubilee leave may seem sudden and drastic considering just two weeks ago we had one of the best first dates I have ever had and I was then defending her actions to the other women. But a lot had happened since then (in a very short time what else is new in this experience?), and I was starting to see some things that were very concerning to me.
Ever since that one-on-one date, Jubilee had pulled back. You only really saw me talking to her at last week’s cocktail party in Las Vegas and telling her that I could tell that she looked scared out of her mind, but what led up to that was Jubilee really isolating herself. She wasn’t opening up and communicating her doubts or concerns and from what I could tell, there was a real division between her and the other women. Then on the first part of this date, she couldn’t loosen up and have a good time at the Spanish lesson and then was really the only person that seemed to be having a miserable time and a problem with her teammate when we got to the cooking part.
Now I understand how difficult this experience can be at times. And no one has ever said being on a group date is easy, especially when you have feelings growing and developing. My biggest issue so far was that Jubilee wasn’t communicating any of this to me at this point. And it was obvious even from a distance that there was a problem with her. And instead of coming to me and telling me that there was a problem, she chose to be passive-aggressive and make snide comments here and there when the rest of us were having fun. Waiting for me to pull her aside and pull it out of her instead of coming to me and telling me there was an issue.
I have no illusions about relationships. I know there will be hard times. Times when my wife and I will fight or disagree or when I will make mistakes. And what I am looking for in a life partner is someone who will love me through those moments. Even when she doesn’t like me very much, she will love me still – support me and communicate with me. So as much as I respected and admired Jubilee, and as much as I truly loved my first date with her, that was no longer enough. When she looked me in the eyes and asked if I could still see a future with her, I could no longer honestly say yes. She is a wonderful woman. More than that, she is one of the most impressive people I have ever met in my life. But she wasn’t my future wife. And as difficult as that was, I owed it to her – and to myself – to be honest in that moment and walk her out.
JoJo’s response to seeing the pain in my face after saying goodbye to Jubilee is a perfect example of that. I know that seeing me upset about another woman is not something JoJo really wants to see or hear about. But despite that she made it a point to pull me aside and support me through what was a very, very difficult time for me. That’s the type of partnership I want in my wife, and it meant the world to me that she was willing to put her feelings aside and be there for me in a difficult moment.
As for the rose, I really could’ve given it to JoJo. And in retrospect, maybe I should have. But after dealing with Jubilee making me feel the past couple of weeks like she wasn’t excited to be here, I wanted to recognize the person that never made me feel that way. The woman that always put our relationship first. And a woman that did struggle last week. I didn’t want her feeling what Jubilee had felt, and I wanted that rose to validate to her that I wanted her here and that I appreciated how she had bounced back from a difficult week.
After what was probably the hardest breakup I had ever had to go through, Lauren H. was the perfect woman to spend the day with. You guys haven’t seen much of our relationship so far, but I always just have so much fun with Lauren H. She has such a warm personality and a huge heart. You just can’t be with her and not smile the entire time, and I knew she would truly appreciate what I knew was going to be one of the coolest experiences ever.
I mean, I think people get used to seeing us do extraordinary things on our dates, but this wasn’t something that was put on for us. This was a HUGE fashion show. Ricardo Covalin was the person you saw in the store and his line, Pineda Covalin, is one of the most prestigious in all of Mexico. That show had millions of dollars on the line for lots of people, and they allowed US to be a part of that. Unreal. Going through that with her and seeing how she just dove into what could have been a terrifying experience just wowed me.
However, unlike the date with Amanda where there was no question that our relationship was moving forward, this date with Lauren H. was a bit more uncertain. I was absolutely certain that Lauren H. and I could have a great time together. But I really needed to see if there was more to it than that. If we could be more than just great friends. Which made it reallllllllly frustrating when we were ready to sit down for dinner but we couldn’t start because there was a drum circle below us on the street that wouldn’t stop. It was so loud and we could hardly hear each other talking, and, like I said, being able to communicate on a deeper level was really key to me being able to figure out what Lauren and I could really have with each other. Luckily they finally agreed to stop and move to a different spot so we could talk in peace but I was getting really antsy.
Once we finally did sit down, everything went really, really well though. Hearing Lauren tell me about her past relationship and what is behind her constantly beaming smile and positive attitude really opened my eyes. I have so much respect for a woman who knows that she has a choice whether or not to be happy even when things in her life are difficult. I saw that there is potential for more with us and to see that a potential life with Lauren H. is something that would be filled with laughter and joy at every turn.
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Rose ceremonies are never ever easy, but if I am being honest, I went into this cocktail party in Mexico City with a very good idea of what I thought I was going to do. Especially after reflecting on my relationship with Jubilee and where it had gone wrong, it was becoming clearer and clearer to me who I was moving forward with and who I could no longer see something with.
Which is why when Emily came to me about her concerns about Olivia I was really thrown off. I say it every week, but watching this back and seeing what was happening at the party when I wasn’t there it all makes so much more sense. But at the time, seeing Emily’s emotions really shocked me. And that it was coming from Emily, who up to this point had been one of those women I always knew I could look to for a giant smile, meant a ton. I knew that it had to have been something fairly serious for it to come to this.
But when Olivia came up right after that, I was still trying to gather my thoughts. Looking back I think I should’ve just addressed it immediately, but I needed a moment to process everything. I wanted to give Olivia a chance to tell me what she was feeling herself. And then I wanted to talk to a couple of other women that I truly trusted to see if this issue with Emily was just an outlier or if this was a consensus.
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Hearing everything from Amanda and Jen, too, one of my biggest fears was being realized. Having someone be inauthentic to me, showing me one person when they really are something else entirely is terrifying. Especially someone who I had been feeling so strongly for to this point. I have heard all of you guys throwing your hands in the air and wondering how I hadn’t seen the cracks in Olivia already, but if you take away all the moments that you are seeing with her and the other women and just see what she was showing me, those cracks just weren’t there. When I looked at this group of women, Olivia was really someone I could’ve seen as my wife. And hearing all of this now?! My mind was reeling in a way that it never had before.
So when Chris Harrison walked in and said it was time for the rose ceremony, I knew what I had to do. I couldn’t go into the rose ceremony like this. I just couldn’t. I needed to get to the bottom of this with Olivia right then and there, and I don’t think you’ll be expecting what happens next
I’ve mentioned dramatic weeks before. And I called this week one of the biggest game-changers of my entire journey. After seeing what happened with Jubilee and Olivia, I think you can see why I said that. What I haven’t said yet is that any of these weeks was the most dramatic and possibly most difficult of any week save the last one. What is coming next week is exactly that. What happens next week really rocked me to the core and, frankly, made me question everything.
So get ready, Bachelor Nation, because next week is unlike anything you have ever seen!
The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.