The Latin heartthrob talks about his suitors, his daughter and his decision to come back

By Carrie Bell
December 19, 2013 11:45 AM
Craig Sjodin/ABC

Bachelor fans, Juan-uary is almost here!

Ahead of the Jan. 6 season opener of the show’s 18th installment, Juan Pablo Galavis, 32, spoke with reporters about what he looks for in a woman, first-night surprises (one of the 27 contestants might be seven months pregnant!), how his Latino culture will be represented and how involved the single dad let daughter Camila be.

The former Venezuelan soccer player turned Bachelorette suitor of Desiree Hartsock wouldn’t reveal if he found a soulmate/stepmom, but he swears he has no regrets about his return.

How did you decide to return as the Bachelor?
It’s a process. You have to think a lot. I knew I [had] to be here the entire season, so it was going to be time away from my daughter. Also, I hate hurting people, and you have to say goodbye to a lot of people. But you have to take the risk to meet people, and I see every opportunity as a positive thing. You can meet people in a club or restaurant, and you don’t know if that person wants to get married, have kids, is on the same page. This [was] 27 people who knew a little bit about me and what I wanted. It’s not easy to find [your] somebody. I thought maybe this would be easier, so I took the chance.

Were you still smarting from Des’s rejection?
No, you have to be very mature, very realistic when you go on The Bachelorette. There’s going to be 24 guys that are going to go home. She can just keep one, and I’m happy for Chris. I think Chris will invite me to their wedding.

How was it different being the one calling the shots?
I finally got to go on one-on-one dates. And it’s tiring. On [The Bachelorette], I got rest, but on this you’re the one going on all the dates.

What are you looking for in a woman?
Smart, fun, honest, likes sports a little bit and somebody that knew how to dance because that’s one of my biggest turn-ons. But in this situation I say to myself, “Juan Pablo, not all of them will be good dancers. Just get to know them [first].” I want somebody very independent career-wise. I want to have kids right away. I just need them to be themselves.

What’s the worst thing about dating you?
I can be stubborn. I like to eat a lot, so if you don’t, you’re kind of screwed. I’m a fatty. Nutella, Doritos with salsa. Venezuelan food. Pequenos. On weekends, I just want to lie in bed watching sports and relax and some people love weekends to go out. I can be sarcastic. My daughter is my priority, so if you have a plan with me and my daughter calls, I have to go with her.

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How’d you feel about the group they assembled?
It was a great group of women. They did a good job picking the girls. Obviously I got to know some more than others.

What was your first reaction when one of the bachelorettes got out of the limo with a baby bump?
It was shocking, but I’m a single dad and know how it feels. It’s tough when they don’t have that other person to raise their child and they need a chance. If I’m able to give her that chance, great.

Did silly or stunt entrances work for you?
It makes a little bit of an impression, but I wouldn’t judge a first impression. I give roses away because I felt like it. I was waiting for crazy and I didn’t have too many crazy ones. The first night’s weird and overwhelming. I only got nervous when I stepped in front of the mansion. My first limo was on fire. Then the second, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m in trouble.” By the third, I already forgot who the first girl was. I’m an easygoing guy and I like meeting people, but it’s intimidating having 27 women looking at you like a piece of something.

Between Brooks, Ben and Brian, there was a ton of drama in your Bachelorette season. Were you worried about what the girls would get up to, and did you listen to their complaints about other girls or let it influence your decision-making?
There was drama with 25 guys in a house. I cannot even imagine 27 girls in a house. Do I care about their drama? Not at all. I just let them do it. Whatever happens in the house or whatever they say, I just don’t care or pay attention. I don’t like tattle tellers. I like people to worry about just themselves. I’m there to meet the women and get to know them on a one-on-one basis.

What do you say to people who criticize you for leaving your daughter to film a reality show?
My daughter has a mom too ,and she takes care of her when I’m away [for work] and I travel a lot. I don’t care about those critics. It’s not that I’m leaving her to do a reality show; I’m leaving to maybe find somebody that I can be happy with and she will have brothers and sisters.

How involved is your daughter in this search?
I don’t need approval from her; she’s going to be 5. When I’m dating on a regular basis, whenever possible, I introduce my girlfriend as a friend of Daddy’s. I don’t tell her, “This is my girlfriend.” We don’t hold hands, we don’t kiss, we don’t sleep over, we don’t do anything in front of my daughter. I don’t want her to grow up seeing [that]. Obviously if I’m getting married, I would be like, “This is the one [who] could be your stepmom.” She’s got to love my daughter because it’s not going to work if she doesn’t. Camila’s not going to watch the show. It’s not worth involving her in this process of daddy going out with 27 women.

As the first Latino Bachelor, how will audiences see you express your culture on the series?
There’s going to be a lot of Latino things in the show. It’s going to be a lot of food, a lot of dancing, a lot of stuff. It’s going to be so different. You’re going to love it.