Higgins defends the controversial contestant after her abrupt exit in week 3
Credit: Courtesy ABC

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 onThe 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!

Wow. Didn’t I tell you this was going to be a wild week?! I don’t even know where to begin. But like I said before, when I don’t know it’s usually just best to dive right in so here goes nothing.

I feel like the thing that stood out to me the most this week was just the raw emotion. I guess it makes sense and I should’ve known that the ladies were struggling as much as they were, but I didn’t. I only see what I see in our interactions. But I knew that the feelings were getting more and more real for me much faster than I anticipated so it only makes sense that some of them were struggling as well. And when you really start to care about someone or something it can cause a lot more tension amongst the group. It all makes sense, but it still struck me as I watched this week. I think had I known, the cocktail party with Jubilee and Amber and Lace and everyone else would have been a lot less of a shock than it was, but I guess I am getting ahead of myself.

Before any of that, I got to go on a date with Lauren B! I was really excited to see more of Lauren B. because we really had a great connection on the first night. And at the second cocktail party too. But they were just glimpses. It was easy to see that she was not one of the more outgoing women in the house, but she intrigued me so much that I really wanted to know more. Plus an airplane date with a flight attendant? That seems too perfect a fit, right?

Of course this was a little different than the planes that either of us had ever been in and I was doing everything possible to not act scared out of my mind because I was! But Lauren was being brave so I had to be too. And once we got into the air, it was actually so much more calm and peaceful up there than I ever would’ve imagined. And having Lauren by my side really made it that much easier. She has such a wonderful energy about her not to mention she is just unbelievably beautiful. I mean, I know the scenery up there was unreal, but all I really wanted to do was look at her.

The most frustrating part about the whole thing though was the headsets! I wanted to kiss her so badly up there but those damn headsets kept getting in the way! Yes, Bachelor problems. This is my life.

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And while we are on the subject of problems, while that field where we landed was beautiful, it was also filled with snakes! Like, rattle snakes – and a lot of them! We were walking towards the hot tub arm-in-arm, and we started hearing rattles. At first I thought it was just someone messing with us until I saw one dart across the path and into the grass and then another one and then another! It was terrifying but more than anything Lauren was freaking out. I would’ve felt really, really badly if I had taken Lauren on our first date and she got bit by a snake, so I put her on my back and carried her most of the way.

I was just so struck by how comfortable it felt with Lauren, though. I really meant it that I almost had to hold myself back from moving too fast because it really felt so easy with Lauren. I mean, even when she was talking about how her dad loves to do yard work, I kept thinking, “So do I!” (I know, I know, but I really do!). So at that point, giving her the rose was pretty much a no-brainer. I was really just hoping that she had as great a time as I did.

When we had our moment with Lucy Angel it was really just icing on the cake. Being in such a picturesque place with such a wonderful woman, I could not have asked anything more. I got lost in the moment listening to Lucy and dancing with Lauren. Hard to have a better ending to a first date than that.

How cool is it that we got Alex Morgan and Kelly O’Hara to come on our date?! These women are the best in the entire world when it comes to soccer. THE ENTIRE WORLD!!! And they were going to teach the women on my date. Last week, we met Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and now this.

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I just continue to be humbled by being allowed this opportunity. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined any of this. I really wanted to get in there and play, too, because how often do you get the opportunity to play soccer with World Cup Champs? But I think I’ve mentioned before that I still have a torn ACL in my knee from an injury I had just before I was on The Bachelorette. I can still run and jump okay, but any sort of cutting or change of direction and I’m toast, so I decided to sit this one out.

As for the rest of the ladies on the date, I have to admit I was a little concerned after watching some of the training drills. Things looked pretty rough. But once the match started, these women brought it! I could not believe how hard they were playing. And the game was tight the entire time. I know you could see me screaming every time there was a goal, but I really was so into the actual competition. And Emily?! Wow! She was unbelievable as a goalie! Even Alex and Kelly were impressed and that’s saying something.

The worst part of all of this was sending the losing team home. Especially after they had fought so unbelievably hard to stay in that game. But I had to think of the big picture. And with such a large number of women on the group date, I knew that the more that came to the after party, the harder it really was going to be to spend quality time with any of them. Progressing these relationships really is my goal and sometimes you can’t do that by trying to please everyone. As they say, that is usually the best way to please no one, and two minutes with each woman that night was not going to help me find my wife.

I really didn’t have a problem with Olivia grabbing me first at the party like a lot of people have. As I said last week, I really don’t have a problem with a woman showing me that our relationship is her priority, and Olivia had done that since day one. I want someone that wants to be with me and is taking this seriously because I certainly am.

What I did have a problem with was some of the things the other women were saying about her. I can understand not liking someone, and I honestly didn’t expect all of these women to get along – especially with all the attention I have given to Olivia the first couple of weeks – but to start making fun of minor imperfections really upset me, and I hate to see what I know are wonderful women fall into that.

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But on a positive note, Amber really impressed me that night. I know she had been on previous seasons, but I really didn’t feel like I knew her before that night. She had always been sweet and she is obviously beautiful but that was the first time I felt like she had really opened up and let me in. That meant a lot to me because I know this isn’t easy for her.

Then there was Jubilee. I won’t lie; I was really kind of put off by her energy at the beginning of the date. I mean, I do put a lot of thought into who I pick to go one each date because I know how valuable that one-on-one time is, and I know that there are a lot of women that will go home before they ever get that chance. So when a woman like Jubilee doesn’t seem as excited for the date as I am, it is a little bit of a bummer.

It wasn’t until we were actually in the helicopter that Jubilee really started to loosen up and I started to get a feel for her personality and her humor. That’s when I realized that she wasn’t unappreciative at all. She was just nervous. And she has a very sarcastic humor. A sarcastic humor that I really love. I just didn’t get it at first.

One of the things I loved most about Jubilee on that date was she was just herself. Unapologetically herself. She didn’t care if it was the right thing to say or if a comment was going to offend me, she just said it. Even the “white boy” comment. And if I wasn’t going to react to it the way she wanted me to, then that would’ve meant that we weren’t right for each other. It’s so often in dating situations that people try to be too perfect – to say or do the exact right thing so they won’t scare the other person off or come off a certain way. But I keep saying that the best piece of advice I got at all going in to this journey was to stay true to myself. I don’t want someone falling in love with some very similar but polished and perfect version of who I am. I want someone to fall in love with who I am – even the awkward, uncool and sometimes ugly parts of me. And I loved that Jubilee wasn’t afraid of that either. It made me respect her even more than I already did because that takes a lot of courage. Who would’ve guessed that the war veteran would have so much courage, right?

And can we talk about how unbelievably gorgeous the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa is? I have been to plenty of spas in my life but I have never seen one like that. The view over that negative edge pool?! I mean come on. Just beautiful.

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That night, Jubilee continued to peel back more and more layers of herself and the fact that she was willing to open up to me about her family and even the guilt she lives with every day for being the only one that survived in her family, I was just in awe of her as a person. Everyone has made so much of me being able to open up about being unlovable and that was not easy for me to do, especially in front of millions of people on a television show. But what Jubilee did was far beyond anything I could ever imagine.

I wasn’t sure going into this night that I could admire and respect Jubilee any more than I already did but wow. That is the type of woman I want to marry someday. A woman that I am in awe of and that makes me strive to be a better man every single day of my life. So again, there wasn’t any hesitation in my mind that I was going to offer Jubilee that rose. And I was just over-the-moon that she accepted it.

Unfortunately, the next morning I found out that two people that were close to my family and community had died in a plane crash the night before. It really struck me. In fact, if you look back at the video that we shot when I was back in Indiana before I came to L.A. for the show, one of the men was actually driving me in the car in the parade. It was hard news to take at that time. It put things into perspective for me and also helped me realize that all I wanted was to be around the women. These women had become so important to me already, and I thought if anyone could help in this time, it was them.

Which is why I was bit thrown off when Olivia pulled me to talk to me about her insecurities about her legs. Obviously I understand more now after seeing what had happened on the group date, but at the time I was really looking for someone to show me comfort and really check in on how I was doing, and I was just a bit thrown off by that with Olivia. Knowing now about the group date, I am really appreciative that she was able to open up to me about something that I am sure was not easy for her, but I have to admit that at the time that was just a little bit odd to me.

With that in mind though, I really appreciated what Amanda and Jubilee did for me that night. (For those that don’t know, a massage is truly the best way to relax me when I am feeling stressed.) I’m really not trying to make it all about me, but that was a hard night for me and I really needed that. I felt so much better after my time with both of them.

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What a lot of people probably don’t realize is that when there is drama going on in the house, you can absolutely feel it. So even though Jubilee was locked in a bathroom in a room I don’t even go into in the mansion, I could feel the tension through all of the other women.

It’s hard as The Bachelor knowing when to step into a situation like that. Oftentimes I think it’s okay to let the women work through their issues with each other without my involvement. And, in a way, it tells me a lot about each woman based on how they handle conflict in their lives.

But I could tell this time I needed to step in and help. Jubilee wasn’t opening the door or talking to anyone, but after the week we had had together, I knew she would talk to me. And at first I was just really trying to figure out even what was wrong so I was glad that Amber came up and helped clarify it. I get how some of the other women could be offended by what Jubilee had said to start the date because even I was put off initially. But like I said before, that Jubilee doesn’t censor herself in any way is part of what I love so much about her and I didn’t want that to change. I do wish that the women had been able to work this about between themselves and I think that is what Amber was trying to do, but more than anything I am just glad we got to the bottom of it and resolved it quickly.

I have to admit, when Lace pulled me out of the group after we were all downstairs I was worried. It had been an incredibly difficult day in so many ways, and I just wasn’t sure I was ready for anything else. But I could not have been more wrong about what was about to happen.

So before I get into all of it, I want to talk first to those who were so quick to judge Lace. Lace has been the focal point for the first few weeks of this season. Every viewer has been at the least amused by Lace’s beauty, alcohol intake, interactions with the other women and desire to stare deeply into my eyes AT ALL TIMES. I have been asked over and over how I could keep Lace, and I hope this week you saw why I had. This week for the first time I believe Lace was truly herself.

If we are honest with ourselves, we are all amateurs when it comes to love. I’ve not known anyone who has turned pro yet. But Lace brings up a fundamental point – we can’t truly love anyone else if we don’t fully love ourselves. In one of the conversations that affected me the most this season Lace did what so many of us refuse to do be vulnerable. She may have said goodbye to me, but I hope and believe Lace was also beginning the process of saying goodbye to the demons that have haunted her. If there is one thing we can all agree about Lace, it’s that she never ceased to be anything less than honest (sometimes to a fault).

Lace if you are reading this, your honesty and vulnerability is appreciated by me, and now millions of others across the nation. We are all complicated and we are all humans who have problems, but the difference with you, Lace, is you are willing to admit it. Where in weeks previous people may have had a hard time relating with you, after last night we all can. You are beautiful, candid and courageous. The world would be better if we could all have a little more Lace in us. Lace, our relationship may have not worked out, but there is a man who will be lucky to call you his one day. Thank you Lace for never being anything but yourself.

Thank you for indulging me, but I felt that that really needed to be said.

You’d think that rose ceremonies would get easier as I would go. I know the women better now and it should get easier knowing who should stay and whom I should let go back to their lives at home. And in a way it does. But it also gets so much harder knowing how wonderful these women actually are and knowing that I will be hurting them by not giving them a rose. Jami and Shushanna are two women with some of the best energy of anyone in the house, but I knew at that point that they were not the ones for me. And I hope that going home they didn’t lose sight of the fact that any man would be lucky to have them and will be some day in the very near future I’m sure.

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So there you have it. I told you things were only going to get more and more intense and I think you saw that this week. So just wait ’til you see what happens when we pack our bags and head to Vegas next week! They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but not when you do it Bachelor-style! I don’t think anyone has any idea what’s coming this week, including one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in my entire life. Just thinking about it again makes me shiver. So tune in, Bachelor Nation – it only gets more unpredictable from here!

The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.