The Bachelor Winter Games is putting relationships — and kissing — to the test.
On Tuesday evening’s episode of the Bachelor spin-off series, romances intensified and tears were shed as audiences watched multiple contestants say goodbye to their fellow castmates before and after the evening’s kissing contest and rose ceremony.
Here’s how it all went down.
PRE-ROSE CEREMONY GOODBYES
Tiffany (Australia): “I think at this point it’s fairly clear to me that I’m not going to find love here. Most people in the house are coupled up. The people that are left in the house I’m either not interested in or they’re emotionally unavailable. And sitting in an environment where there are many couple around me and I’m not in one is kind of rubbing salt in the wound at this stage. So while it is very hard to leave, I also know that this is the best thing for me.”
Ben (USA): After seeing Tiffany go home, Ben had an emotional heart-to-heart with host Chris Harrison, when he opened up about his split from Lauren Bushnell.”Right here right now, it just doesn’t feel right. My fear is not entering into a relationship. My fear is not pursuing somebody. My fear is that if I was to be broken again, I’m not full enough right now to recover from that. … When something that is so real to you then seems so small to everybody else and not just friends and family — millions of people — it breaks you every day. And that’s what sucks. Because as much as I’ve moved on — and I have — it still hurts even though we’re months past it. … It is time for me to go.”
“One of the most encouraging things about being here is looking around me and seeing the couples that have formed. It makes me know that those kind of things can exist again,” said Ben. “But right now it’s easier for me to be alone than to be with somebody.”
“There were a lot of ghosts that were brought up here for me,” Ben told the group before he departed. “A lot of memories. And I’m sorry that I came here a little confused, and confused some of you. But just know that I’m walking out of here really happy I met you all and really happy I did this.”
“The Bachelor worked for me. I fell in love. And I came here because I truly want to feel those feelings again. But I know I’m not ready to enter into anything here. I 100 percent want a relationship. I know that I desire love more than I ever have before. But it’s time for me to recover outside of this. To get some privacy, to get some time for myself,” he added.
Following Ben’s departure, the two remaining single people in the house also left before the rose ceremony: Michael (USA) and Yuki (Japan).
WATCH: Ben Higgins Opens Up About His Split With Lauren Bushnell
ASHLEY & KEVIN’S ONE-ON-ONE
Earlier in the day, Dean and Lesley each won a date card during the skiing contest and passed on their extra date to Ashley and Kevin.
During their romantic dinner together, Ashley raised her concerns about being a virgin with Kevin.
“It’s hard to imagine ever marrying someone, let alone even proposing — actually even being in a long-term relationship,” said Kevin. “I feel like sex in a relationship is one of the most important things. But you’re not waiting for marriage, you’re just waiting for a nice guy who’s the right one. That’s almost something that I respect about you. If anyone were to take someone’s virginity that waited so long and waited for the right moment, any decent guy would make sure you feel very good about it all for a long time.”
“Thank you for getting it,” said Ashley, who later admitted: “If things continue the way they’ve been going, I could definitely see myself falling in love with Kevin.”
(In a preview of next week’s episode, it appears that Ashley and Kevin’s romance continues to heat up. “Ladies and gentlemen, Ashley I. is headed to the Fantasy Suite,” she said as the couple is seen kissing on a bed.)
WATCH: ‘Bachelor Winter Games’ Contestants Reveal Their Biggest ‘Bachelor’ Crushes
KISSING CONTEST / ROSE CEREMONY
Before the evening’s rose ceremony, the remaining couples were told that they would compete in a kissing contest, which was judged by Rachel Lindsay (The Bachelorette season 13), JoJo Fletcher (The Bachelorette season 12) and Arie Luyendyk. Jr. (The Bachelor season 22).
Although Clare (USA) and Christian (Germany) expressed interest in each other, they had yet to kiss and chose to say goodbye ahead of the contest. “I want a man who sees what he has in front of him and who’s not willing to let me walk away,” said Clare.
After the couples had time to discuss (and practice) their kissing strategies, Dean — who competed on Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette — and Lesley kicked off the contest for the judges. While the pair had undeniable chemistry, Rachel wasn’t convinced by the pair’s routine (which included a flip) — and questioned Dean’s maturity.
“When you started off, you lost me. Dance moves, dance contest, I didn’t know what we were judging. Like I don’t know if the goal was to distract us before because you succeeded in that. That’s what I got,” Rachel told the duo.
After the remaining couples locked lips, the judges discussed who should and should not progress in the Winter Games.
“I’m going to lead with awkward,” Rachel said about Dean and Lesley’s kissing. “It was very juvenile,” she added, while also nominating them for last place. “It was so forced.”
Despite Rachel’s criticism, Dean and Lesley were spared from getting last place — Josiah (USA) and Ally (New Zealand) were sent home — and were ultimately presented with roses.
COUPLES PROGRESSING TO THE FINALE
Lesley (USA) & Dean (USA)
Bibiana (USA) & Jordan (New Zealand)
Ashley (USA) & Kevin (Canada)
Lily (New Zealand) & Courtney (Australia)
Stassi (Sweden) & Luke (USA)
The Bachelor Winter Games airs Tuesdays and Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.