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The Bachelor

Ben Higgins: Nick Viall & Vanessa Grimaldi's Awkward After the Final Rose Proved 'They're Authentic'

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Twitter had a lot to say about Nick Viall and Vanessa Grimaldi‘s live After the Final Rose appearance on Monday night — but former Bachelor Ben Higgins says their seemingly awkward interactions actually showed a very “real” side of the couple.

“I think one thing the After the Final Rose did show us is that their relationship is very real — they weren’t trying to hide anything,” Higgins, 28, told Entertainment Tonight. “I think they’re authentic.”

“[We’ve] been there, and we know that time in life is really hard,” he added of him and his fiancée Lauren Bushnell. “We can look back and say it is. So I think they were just being very honest.”

Bushell, 27, said she “appreciated” the fact that Grimaldi, 29, was candid about the fact that she was struggling with the situation.

“We hear a lot from the lead — the Bachelor, the Bachelorette — you’re following their journey, you always know how they’re feeling,” she said. “I thought it was nice to hear how Vanessa is doing. I know I can relate. Ben and I have had our ups and our downs.”

“I think they’re both really good people and wish them both the best,” she added. “It’s definitely a journey and I think most couples that come out of The Bachelor can relate on some level.”

“[He’s] no longer the Bachelor and that’s a really exciting thing,” added Higgins. “It sounds like their relationship is off to maybe a difficult start, but a really exciting start. He needs to start investing in their relationship more than anything else. That would be my advice. It is a tough season of life.”

“I’m sure Nick knows what he’s doing now,” he continued. “He’s no longer the Bachelor, and it’s time for him just to humble himself and be a good partner.”

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Viall and Grimaldi themselves have acknowledged that they “have a long way to go” and still need to get to know each other before they can tie the knot.

“I hope we came across as in love and passionate tonight,” Viall, 36, previously told PEOPLE of the After the Final Rose special. “The reality is — we joke about it, but it’s true — we don’t know what it’s like to go to the movies together, we don’t know what it’s like to spend time together in the real world. Our relationship has been based off of stressful situations.”

“You can never make people happy,” said Grimaldi. “At the end of the day, we are focusing on our relationship. It’s easy to focus on the negative, which sometimes I do, and Nick tries to get me out of it. But that’s the world that we’re living in.”