December 01, 2003 12:00 PM

Chris Harrison would seem an unlikely Bachelor host: His own single days ended at age 22 when he wed his college sweetheart Gwen, now 31, in 1993. Today the pair have a 2-year-oldson, Joshua, and are expecting a daughter in early January. Their secret? “We take care of each other,” he says. “Gwen and I have the best time together.” Having hosted six installments of the series (the next Bachelorette will air in January), Harrison, 32, observes, “The women come in a lot more sincere and more determined to make things work.” So what does he really think of the show’s matches? Read on.

Alex & Amanda

Date: April 2002

Status: Broke up after nine months

The series’ inaugural love match crashed shortly after takeoff. “I don’t think they were a bad couple. It’s just that…well, I didn’t see him lasting that long with Trista either,” says Harrison. “He came in with the sincerest intentions, but by the end, I just didn’t see him in the right place. This process will do that to you—it will find out if you are ready [for a serious relationship] or not. Until you are put in that spot, you don’t know. And I think he found out, you know, ‘I’m really not ready.’ ”

Aaron & Helene

Date: November 2002

Status: Broke up after five weeks

“I remember telling Aaron [off-camera], ‘I just don’t see what you see in Helene—I just don’t get it with you guys,’ ” Harrison recalls of the series’ second failed pairing. ‘And he said, ‘Trust me, when we are together in private, it’s amazing.’ So I’m like, ‘Okay, I get it.’ But I kept thinking it was going to be Gwen [who finished third]. I thought they had a great chemistry, and when I saw them together at the reunion show, I still felt it! It was really weird. I guess they were separately great people, but together they just didn’t have it.”

Trista & Ryan

Date: February 2003

Status: Their wedding airs on ABC Dec. 10

“With Ryan, it felt like a home run, and I told Trista I thought she was the first person in this series to get it right,” says Harrison. “I loved [runner-up] Charlie. But I think she and Charlie were so alike in their type-A personality, I don’t know if they would have flowed.” During filming, “we all knew she should choose Ryan, but we thought in our hearts she was going to choose Charlie. So all of a sudden she chooses the guy that’s right for her, which for some reason on these shows, it never seems like it works out that way.”

Andrew & Jen

Date: May 2003

Status: Engaged but no wedding date yet

“I hate to bust [Andrew’s story] that he knew the moment he saw Jen, but it’s not the truth!” says Harrison. “I’m sure Andrew had feelings for Jen early, but the cementing of that happened later. I don’t think his brother slapping him around and saying, Are you crazy?’ was the actual decision-maker, but it put him over the edge. Jen is a much better pick for him [than runner-up Kirsten]. She can handle his crazy hyperness. He’s all over the place, but the look in her eyes is always so loving. She’s the calm in the storm.”

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