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!
Things are getting real aren’t they?
I knew this was going to move fast, but I don’t think I ever thought it would be this fast. Both in terms of the feelings I was having already, but as you saw, also with the drama and conflict with the women in the house. I was really excited to get out of the house and to have the bright lights of Vegas to be the setting for an amazing week of dates.
I know Las Vegas has a reputation as a party town, and it lives up to that for sure, but with the lights and the grandeur and elegance, it really can be incredibly romantic too. And did you see that Aria Sky Suite that the women got to stay in?! That was the most incredible hotel room I have ever seen. I mean, it had a full sauna and a gym in there not to mention an elevator and bathrooms the size of my college dorm room. Unbelievable.
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I was so excited for my date with JoJo. We had such an intense passion even in our limited time together, and I really wanted a date with her to see if it was more than just lust (she is an incredibly beautiful woman) and could have a possibility at love. So going into it not only was I excited because of those passionate moments, but I was a little nervous too, because I have had moments in my life where I was intensely attracted to a woman only to find out that was all that we had together. And as a man looking for a wife and a lifelong partner, I know passion and physical attraction is not the foundation for a marriage. So this was a big day.
What you guys didn’t see though was that we actually had to call an audible on what the date was really supposed to be. I had set up this incredible helicopter tour of the Valley of Fire outside the city (that’s why the date card said “You set my heart on fire”), but a huge rain and lightning storm rolled in that morning and the pilots said it was too dangerous to fly. So as cool as that sounded, nothing was worth risking our safety. Instead, we did what you do in Vegas we gambled! JoJo and I went down and hit the tables for a little bit and actually hit the jackpot on a hand of blackjack! I’m not going say how much we won, but it was WAY more than I had ever won in my life. So exhilarating.
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But while we were playing, the weather cleared up and I was SO excited to surprise her with the helicopter still even if we didn’t have time to get out to the Valley of Fire. Vegas in a helicopter with all those lights and beautiful fountains, pools and hotels is still worth it, and I knew JoJo would be excited for that.
Of course, what I didn’t know is that we had set up the table with the champagne a little too close to where the helicopter was landing. That was actually really scary! That table came crashing down and poor JoJo got a cut on her foot from the champagne glass that shattered when it fell. So for all of you planning to have a helicopter land next to where you and your date are having champagne, make sure you set up far away. (I know. This is my life. How did I get here?!)
It was really kind of great though. Crouching behind that table with our hearts pumping and wind blowing in or faces, it created such an unintentionally romantic moment. I couldn’t help but kiss her. JoJo and I just cannot get past that passion and that adrenaline was an unbelievable start to our date. I love moments like that. Moments when everything goes horribly wrong and it couldn’t be more right. Those are the moments in life you remember and talk about forever and I loved sharing it with JoJo.
What I didn’t love, however, was that the other women were watching as I kissed her. I had made a very big effort up to that point, taking Sean [Lowe] and Jason [Mesnick]‘s advice from before I met the women, not to kiss any woman in front of any other woman. It was just a matter of respect to me, and I have the utmost respect for everyone of these ladies that took the time out of their lives for a chance at love with me. When I found out that they had seen the whole thing, I was very upset. It was never my intention, and I hate that they had to witness what was supposed to be a very private moment between JoJo and me.
Anyway, back to the date itself. Our helicopter ride was gorgeous, but more than anything just showed that we have chemistry that is just undeniable. But I still needed to see if there was more to us than just that. So when JoJo was able to explain why she hadn’t really let me in and tell me about her most recent relationship, it made her make so, so much more sense.
I could sense that she was holding back from me a little bit emotionally and hearing that story I could absolutely see why. And I think her being able to admit that was the first step in us getting past that as a couple and actually starting to connect on a deeper, more emotional level.
So after such a wonderful and serious date with JoJo, I wanted our group date to be nothing but fun. Vegas is known for more than clubs and gambling, the shows in Vegas are second to none. When I heard Terry Fator was down to help us with a date, I knew it was the perfect fit. Seriously one of the best parts was the women going through all the props and deciding what to do. The ribbons, pogo sticks, the chicken suits. It was hilarious. Oh, and Jubilee also plays the cello. Is there anything she can’t do? Needless to say, I was so excited for the show.
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And seriously, I was SO proud of all of them just for getting up on that stage and doing anything. I went up there and tried to show them my talent, but I guess cracking an apple in my hand wasn’t quite up to par, so you guys were all spared that. But the twins and their dancing, Jubilee’s cello and even Lauren H. and her absolutely adorable chicken suit song. I could not have appreciated it more that they all did their thing.
And honestly, I had no idea Olivia was so mortified by her performance. I understood that there was some humor mixed in there. I have said over and over again that I am far from cool or smooth so I understand awkward moments and actually love that she was able to embrace it in front of more than 1,000 people. I hate that she was so affected by it. But seeing her panic attack backstage (something I didn’t know about until I saw it on TV this week) makes what happened at the after party make so much more sense. I was really so confused as to why she was apologizing so much and feeling so out of place, but seeing that now brings it all together for me. I wish she had known that I was nothing but impressed by the courage she showed on that stage earlier that day.
That said, this was the first night I was really starting to feel the tension in the group with Olivia and the other women. Especially with her interrupting Emily to have a second conversation with me. It was also the first time I had seen Olivia anything less than poised and confident. And I don’t mean that as a bad thing, because I appreciate her ability to be more open and vulnerable with me. I just wish she could’ve believed me when I told her that I was not embarrassed at all and was actually proud of her. Following the cocktail party last week, I felt like we were kind of misfiring with each other on this group date. But everyone has off nights, and it’s part of growing together so I wasn’t reading too much into it.
I’m really glad people are getting to see more of Lauren H. too. I have so much fun with her, and even though our time together hasn’t been seen much to this point, she is a wonderful woman that I have had a blast getting to know so far. Oh, and I stand by my “sex panther” description of Caila. Nothing more to say on that.
But I know from my time on The Bachelorette – and even in the first couple of weeks here as The Bachelor – how hard it can be going from a great one-on-one date to a group date setting. It’s really, really difficult going from feeling like there is no one else in the world but you two to being one of a group again. So having such a meaningful conversation with Lauren B. really stood out to me. It just showed me that it wasn’t just a great first date that we had. It was the start of something special and I wanted to make sure she knew I felt that way.
I was so excited for a date with Becca the next day. From the day she walked into the mansion I knew there was something special about Becca. I know Chris Soules felt it, too, and when you are in the same room with Becca it is undeniable. She has such a fun energy about her and I knew that she would be perfect for this date. Plus I knew because of the faith we both share that it would be meaningful to her.
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I was so nervous for this though. I mean this was a day that these couples were going to remember for the rest of their lives and the last thing I wanted to do was make that memory for them anything less than perfect. Marrying Travis and Leah really went well, though, and they were so sweet. Having Becca by my side for it was really a calming influence. Even more so than the singing Elvis minister that came in later on and gave me some pointers on my marrying skills. Becca and I married a bunch of really excited couples that day, and it really is something that I will remember forever.
The Neon Museum really is one of the coolest places I have ever seen, and I was excited to talk to Becca more there. I had a lot of questions about her past experience and why she went so far without really being ready to get engaged. I respect her for going with her heart and not going into something as serious as marriage if she truly wasn’t ready for it. But I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a fear of her doing the same thing to me. And I knew I was going to be holding myself back from fully opening up and allowing myself to fall for her until I knew what was behind that experience that she’d had with Chris. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for her for tackling a subject as sometimes awkward as sex and religion with such ease and sincerity. After this date, I could tell that Becca was someone I could really see something with. And I really wasn’t sure if that was the case when I went it to it.
And even though I had already chosen my dates for the week and it was the day of the rose ceremony, I felt like I could not leave Las Vegas without seeing Emily and Haley’s hometown with Emily and Haley. I wasn’t going in with the intent that I needed to choose between the two or send one home. I just thought that going home, seeing where they came from and meet their mom would really help me start to differentiate them from each other and see where I could progress with one or both of them. I could really sense that it wasn’t only hard on me, but it was starting to get hard for them too.
But as I was there and talking to both of them, it became clearer and clearer that for me to progress with either of them, I needed to stop thinking of them as “the twins.” I needed to be with just one of them and it was clear to me that Emily and I were farther along and had a stronger connection than Haley and I had. And rather than taking Haley to the next stop and possibly have to say goodbye to her without her having the support of her sister and her mother in that moment just didn’t seem right. If you would’ve told me at the beginning of the day that it was going to end that way, I would’ve told you that you were crazy and that I could never do that. But in that moment, it was clear to me that it had to be done and I stand by that decision today – even as hard as it was for me. Definitely the most difficult decision I had made so far on this journey.
And I still had a cocktail party and rose ceremony to deal with. Definitely a really emotionally taxing day. And while I felt the tension amongst the women on the group date after party, I wasn’t sensing it at this cocktail party. And certainly not in regards to Olivia. I really did agree with her that we needed to get back on track after that after party and it felt much more like it did before after our talk at the cocktail party.
It was similar with Jubilee. Because as I said with Lauren B., going from a one-on-one to a group date is not easy. Lauren B. and I did not miss a beat in that transition, but I could really feel Jubilee pulling back this week. She just seemed to forget all the great things that had happened on our date and that was really frustrating to me. Because I had not forgotten that. At all. That talk with Jubilee was really important so I could make sure that we weren’t going to keep taking steps back. I really wanted to keep getting to know Jubilee and she needed to understand that.
When it came down to the rose ceremony, it was just as hard as it had been the week before. Nothing about this is getting easier. Rachel was a woman that I was instantly attracted to and always seemed so natural and easy to be around. But she was right in that, while we never had a bad time together, we also didn’t seem to be moving forward either.
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With Amber, it was a bit harder since I had just given her a group date rose the week before. I knew there was potential there. And I knew what a great woman she is. But I did feel like we took a step back this week. And that it wasn’t moving forward. And while Olivia and I and Jubilee and I had had that talk at the cocktail party and kind of addressed that and put it behind us, Amber and I hadn’t. It wasn’t an easy decision at all. But at this point, no decision to say goodbye came easily to me.
And with that, it was time to say goodbye to Las Vegas. It was a hard week but also a week filled with hurdles that showed me how these women and I could move forward even when facing adversity.
But not even that was enough to prepare me for what was about to happen in Mexico City next week. While in the past weeks I had been somewhat oblivious to the tensions in the house with the girls, in Mexico it all hit me right in the face. It was impossible not to realize how serious this was getting, and I’m still not sure I handled it all correctly to this day. Maybe you guys can help me figure that out when you watch next week. Trust me, the claws come out next week and I’m sure I didn’t even see the half of it.
So get ready Bachelor Nation, it’s about to get wild in Mexico!
The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.