Facing your significant other’s ex generally isn’t fun by any standards – but what about if that reunion just so happened to be on live, national television?
Well, that’s just what Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell went through when they decided to attend his ex JoJo Fletcher‘s taping of After the Final Rose, the live reunion special that aired directly following Fletcher’s season finale of The Bachelorette in August.
While viewers at the time were only privy to a few on-screen minutes of Higgins and Bushnell’s appearance, the couple gave fans a whole new look into the ordeal on Tuesday’s premiere of Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After?
The first episode of Freeform reality show, which chronicles the couple’s life since getting engaged on Higgins’ season of The Bachelor, largely focused on Higgins and Bushnell’s decision to attend the taping — which also marked the first time the couple had to face Fletcher since Higgins’ own After the Final Rose taping in March.
The premiere opened with a look back at Higgins and Bushnell’s Bachelor journey, from Bushnell’s casting interview to the beachside proposal, before taking viewers into the couple’s life since getting engaged.
Most notably, it chronicled the way strangers still regularly come up to them to ask about Fletcher — and the fact that Higgins actually told both women he loved them before picking Bushnell. (A big no-no, and the first time it’s happened in the franchise’s history.)
Higgins, 28, and Bushnell, 26, admitted that Higgins telling both women he loved them had naturally led to “arguments” and “resentment,” and that while they had moved on, it was hard for Bushnell to handle it constantly being brought up in the media and by random strangers in the street.
RELATED VIDEO: How The Bachelor‘s Ben and Lauren Overcame Trust Issues After He Professed His Love for JoJo
Of course, at more or less that exact moment in the episode, a Bachelor producer called up the couple and asked them if they would be willing to attend Fletcher’s ATFR and provide her and her fiancé Jordan Rodgers some newly engaged advice.
Bushnell was understandably hesitant: “I have had a friendship with JoJo outside of you and I, since before you and I were engaged, and that friendship remains intact,” she told Higgins. “The place where I get uncomfortable is when it’s you, me, and JoJo because it just takes me back to that day. That was really hurtful for me, and it’s not JoJo’s fault and it’s not your fault — I just don’t know what kind of advice I would offer her.”
Higgins, however, was of the mind that they should go in order to prove they were committed to each other and that everyone had moved on.
Finally, after some convincing (courtesy of our new favorite guest stars, twins Emily and Haley Ferguson), Bushnell agreed to go … which also meant binge-watching Fletcher’s entire season with Higgins in one sitting. (This was particularly awkward because it brought to light just how much Fletcher mentioned Higgins during her own season. “For someone who supposedly moved on, JoJo talks a lot about Ben,” sniffed Bushnell.)
After coming to terms with her decision, Bushnell decided it was time to focus her attention elsewhere, and she threw herself into redecorating Higgins’ Denver home which they now share. (A new toilet was involved. It wasn’t pretty.)
Up next? Date night — but of course, it was interrupted by a phone call from Fletcher, who had found out Higgins and Bushnell had agreed to come to Los Angeles for the special and wanted to grab lunch with them while they were in town.
RELATED VIDEO: Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell Break Down Her Celebrity Crush and Where They See Themselves in 10 Years
Higgins agreed to the lunch without consulting with Bushnell, which obviously was a bad call that set an awkward tone going into ATFR, and tensions were running high between the couple before, during and after the taping. (“I feel like you said yes for the both of us,” Bushnell said pointedly.)
The next day, the two were on their way to lunch and Bushnell was clearly still not pleased.
“Being in the same room with JoJo and Ben all together was extremely uncomfortable and now we have to go to lunch together and I’m completely dreading it,” she said. “I don’t want to resent JoJo. I don’t want to resent Ben. And I think that’s my biggest fear —I don’t know if meeting up and having lunch will bring back those memories from months ago. A million things could go wrong, and I’m worried about every single one of them.”
Even though the reunion of exes was awkward, another surprise — this time from Bushnell herself — was much better received when the couple surprised a super fan at her home in New York City on Tuesday evening. While hosting a premiere watch party with friends, the duo arrived at the fan’s apartment with pizza in hand.
Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After? airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Freeform.