The HGTV star tells PEOPLE she would be more like Kaitlyn Bristowe if she were to do the show again

By Jessica Fecteau
Updated December 01, 2020 10:20 PM
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Credit: Phillip Chin/WireImage;ABC

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From one Bachelorette star to another, Jillian Harris‘ advice for the newly crowned JoJo Fletcher is to simply “be yourself.”

“It sounds really cliché, but if I were to go back and do my season over again, I would follow even more into the Kaitlyn Bristowe shoes,” Harris tells PEOPLE on-set of filming her Mr. Clean’s Dirty Little Secrets campaign. “Even though she took a lot of flack for being off the cuff and a little bit off-side, that is more who I am.”

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Harris was a contestant on Jason Mesnick‘s season of The Bachelor, finishing as second runner-up and became The Bachelorette in 2009, eventually becoming engaged to Ed Swiderski but the couple later split.

“People think I am such a girl next door or a goodie goodie, but I’m not,” she says. “Me and Kaitlyn are like, drop the F-bomb and like off-side, have no filter and so there’s a bit of me that wishes I was a little bit more like that, because you’re so afraid being on that show. If you’re just totally yourself and you show all your quirks and your raw side and your negative sides and your weaknesses, if you show that – you’re going to get a lot more flack from society and from the viewers – but I think it’s going to help you find your true match better.”

Bristowe was heavily criticized for hooking up with a contestant during her season of the show.

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But the Love It or List It host says Bristowe’s openness is likely what led her to a happy engagement with fiancé Shawn Booth. She look no further than their “adorable” Snapchat personas to see their relationship in action.

“I’ve seen them in person and yeah, sometimes they fight and sometimes they get along, but they’re a real, true, in love couple and I think that’s because she was totally herself,” Harris says of Bristowe.

As for the newly engaged Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell, Harris says it is possible to find love on the show, but they’ll likely need more time to get to know each other better.

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Still, “Ben is the most understanding, and empathetic, supportive and a great listener,” says Bushnell. “Anytime I do feel things, I express them and he listens and we talk about it.”

“There’s only so much that you can know about somebody in those eight weeks,” she says. “When Ed and I finally got engaged, I remember calculating in my head that we had spent maybe a total of 20 hours together and of those 20 hours, 12 of it was with other people, so it’s like, you don’t spend a lot of time with each other, so I think a lot of it is attraction.”

She adds: “But you think about a lot of the relationships that did work that came from the show, like Catherine and Sean and Ashley and JP and Molly and Jason, Trista and Ryan, there are so many that do work, so I think it’s very possible to find love on the show. But afterwards is difficult and some couples have mastered it and some haven’t been able to figure it out, myself included.”