If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like competing on The Bachelor, the answer is simple: exhausting.
On Monday evening’s episode of the ABC reality show, Nick Viall and seven contestants — Danielle L., Christen, Kristina, Whitney, Taylor, Jasmine and Corinne — spent a day rehearsing with the Backstreet Boys so that they could be backup dancers that evening as a part of their group date.
Following the date, PEOPLE caught up with Whitney, Christen and Danielle L., who exclusively shared about the experience — and what you didn’t see on TV this week.
“It’s a huge adjustment,” said Christen, 25. “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. You’re developing friendships [with the other women], but it’s still an awkward situation.”
“The biggest thing is that we haven’t gotten a lot of sleep — only a couple hours every night,” she revealed. “We’re slamming Red Bull — it’s like I have a newborn! But as of right now, we haven’t had a lot of drama. I’m grateful for that.”
As for their leading man?
“Nick has a vulnerable side,” said Christen. “Sometimes it will crack me up, like, ‘Aren’t I supposed to be the nervous one?’ “
Whitney, 25, said she feels “very comfortable” around Viall, 36.
“There’s something about his presence that is very calming and allows me to be vulnerable and be myself,” she added. “I think we’re connecting. I like his confidence — it makes me want to open up more.”
And while she didn’t score a date the week before, Whitney revealed she found her own way to secure some special time with him.
“Last night I set up a massage table for him and made our own date!” she said. “I wanted him to know that I’m thinking about him and create a moment. I’m definitely confident that there is something there.”
As for how she juggles being around the other women, Whitney said she wants to make sure he notices her — but also doesn’t want to stir up any drama.
“I don’t want to be the girl who is always right up against him,” she said. “I’m not really here to step on other people’s toes. I want to focus on my connection and my experience. I want the best for the other girls too, just like I want my time and I want a connection with him. Everybody needs their chance but as time goes on, it gets harder and the dynamic might change a little bit.”
Danielle L. — who won the Backstreet Boys challenge and the group date rose — agreed that so far, it had been smooth sailing in the house.
“It’s been drama-free,” she said. “It’s been a bonding experience. It seems like we’re all really supportive of each other!”
“Nick is such a charismatic and personable person,” she added. “Had it been anyone else I don’t know if it would have been as exciting. The thing about Nick is he’s so honest and upfront with his emotions and he says what’s on his mind. When you’re as receptive as he is, it’s easy to build a romantic relationship. I feel like we have a lot of common interests — our personalities match. I’m a pretty confident person so I want to be as open as possible and see if there is a real connection.”
The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.