The couple met in 2018 when Ben Higgins "successfully slid" into Jessica Clarke's direct messages on social media

By Jodi Guglielmi
March 30, 2020 12:20 PM
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Ben Higgins is engaged!

The Bachelor star, 31, proposed to girlfriend Jessica Clarke over the weekend in Franklin, Tennessee.

“I was super nervous. She’s my best friend, my partner and I love her. I was nervous to kind of do this whole thing in front of her. I wasn’t anxious, it’s just a big moment!” he told Entertainment Tonight.

So who is Higgins’ future wife?

Clarke, 24, is an avid runner and competed on the University of Mississippi’s (Ole Miss) women’s track and field and cross-country team. According to her athlete bio, Clarke is also dedicated to helping others and “stayed in a special needs orphanage in China for 10 days.”

Ben Higgens/Instagram

She graduated from Ole Miss in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing and communications, according to her LinkedIn, and began working at Valet Energy in Nashville in November 2018. She’s also the co-owner of SweatNET Nashville and SweatNET Denver, online communities that offer coupons for workouts and more.

The couple met in 2018 when Higgins “successfully slid” into Clarke’s direct messages on social media. The two dated in private for several months before making their relationship public in February 2019.

“I’ve been selfishly keeping this girl to myself for too long! Hey friends meet @jessclarke_! I successfully slid into her Dm’s a few months ago. I took a risk and I am glad I did,” Higgins captioned a photo of himself and Clarke in Honduras.

“She is someone special, and I look forward to where life is going to take us,” the Generous Coffee co-founder continued. “Stay tuned for the journey. In addition, this picture was taken this week in Honduras. I got to spend some time with an incredible group of people from all over the USA on a @generous_coffee_ adventure. Life is good!”

Though Clarke was aware of who Higgins was when he slid into her DMs, she hadn’t watched his season of The Bachelor.

“Her mom loves the show so much, so she called her mom right away and was like, ‘What is happening here?’ and her mom was like, ‘I don’t really know, but you should at least message him back.’ So she didn’t watch my season, which is actually good,” Higgins previously told PeopleTV’s Reality Check.

Ben Higgens/Instagram

And according to Higgins, the likelihood of them ever sitting down together and revisiting his Bachelor days is slim to none.

“The very first time she ever saw any piece of my season was watching the Bachelorette reunion show that came out last year. And it was when JoJo [Fletcher] and Lauren [Bushnell] were both there with me at the end,” Higgins explained, noting his exes. “And it crushed Jessica. She’s like, ‘I don’t want to ever see this again.’ So I have no doubt we will never watch my season.”

While the couple started their relationship long-distance (with Higgins based in Denver and Clarke living in Nashville), they made a point not to go more than two weeks without seeing each other and frequently traveled together. She even joined him on the road for The Bachelor Live on Stage Official Tour, until the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancellation.

Like Higgins, Clarke is Christian; she lists the Bible passage 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”) in her Instagram bio.

“Faith is foundational. Our relationship wouldn’t work or make sense without our faith being front and center,” they told the blog Live Original in November 2019. “It’s a grounding force for us and something that has led to the most challenging, but also the most fruitful conversations. Starting to get to know someone by dating long distance means that everything must be intentional. We never have been afraid to dig deeper into our beliefs from the get-go and it’s led to a strong foundation that now we’ve been able to build on and really have fun with. Ben’s leadership in faith is one of the things Jess is most attracted to about Ben.”

Clarke announced their engagement on Sunday, sharing a sweet photo of the proposal.

“I don’t remember everything you said, but I know that I said yes. I woke up in a dream today and I get to live in this dream every day from now on (eeeep),” the bride-to-be announced on Instagram, along with photos of the moment her fiancé proposed.