"I knew I was looking for somebody who was patient and kind and willing to go out there and tackle the world side-by-side," said Ben Higgins

By Brianne Tracy
February 01, 2018 08:41 PM

Ben Higgins is making his return to Bachelor Nation in the upcoming spinoff, Winter Games, for the first time since separating from ex-fiancée Lauren Bushnell.

The former Bachelor star, who split from Bushnell in May after more than a year, told reporters during a conference call on Thursday that he joined the show “excited about the possibility of potentially finding somebody.”

“[I was] excited about putting my foot out there to say, ‘Okay, I’m ready. Let’s make this public and let’s try something new,’ ” Higgins, 29, said. “In truth, I’m really glad I did.”

Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty

On the Olympic-themed spinoff show, two dozen-plus singles from the U.S. franchise and a number of countries across the world will gather at a Vermont resort to compete in winter sporting events, with the winners of the challenges earning date cards — and Higgins’ decision to join in all came down to the question, “Why not?”

The Bachelor has been really good to me,” he said. “Even through a really tough relationship that still plays a huge role in my life, it provided me an opportunity to explore myself more than I ever thought I would.”

Credit: ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua

While Higgins is keeping tight-lipped about whether he found love on the show, or even a potential new romance, he did say that it “moved me forward very quickly in my pursuit of somebody or of a relationship.”

“I think that was huge for me to break down some walls that were already up,” Higgins said. “Just like usual, The Bachelor does a great job of breaking down those walls.”

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Though Higgins has moved on from his relationship with Bushnell, he said it still impacts how he takes action romantically now.

“It did affect the way I interacted with women [on the show] and it does that in real life,” he said. “Coming off of a breakup, it’s smart to take time to process through things but also to make sure you do know what you’re looking for. I knew that what I was looking for was somebody very similar to what I had before and just a partner, somebody who was patient and kind and willing to go out there and tackle the world side-by-side.”

Credit: Jamie Kripke

Higgins, who was featured on season 11 of The Bachelorette and season 20 of The Bachelor, said fans can look forward to seeing the most emotional conversation he’s ever had on any one of the Bachelor franchises with longtime host, Chris Harrison.

“I would question myself more if I wasn’t emotional when I speak about my relationship with Lauren,” he said. “I went into this knowing if I got asked about my relationship, I would probably be emotional. I was okay with that because that’s just truth.”

“I sat down with my buddy, I sat down with Chris and talked to him about what it was like to be back in a situation like this, single again, because the last time I was in a situation like that, I was walking out the happiest I had ever been,” he continued. “I think for me, that conversation wasn’t just with the host of the show but it was with a friend. I’m glad I got to share that because it’s real.”

Credit: ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua

Regardless of whether Higgins comes out with a new romance after the show, he’ll always have Harrison in his corner.

“I will not rest until Ben finds love,” Harrison joked.

The Bachelor Winter Games premieres Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, with subsequent episodes airing Feb. 15, 20, and 22.