The Bachelor's Ben Higgins Says Lauren Bushnell Was Always the One: 'I Had to Fool Myself into Thinking I Was Still Open to Other Women'
Higgins proposed to Bushnell on Monday's Bachelor finale
The Bachelor EXCLUSIVE! Bachelor Ben Higgins opens up about why fiancée Lauren Bushnell “was always the one” and the decision he regrets the most. Subscribe now for all their wedding plan details plus exclusive photos, only in PEOPLE!
“It was always Lauren,” Higgins tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. And despite the fact that he also told runner up (and new Bachelorette) JoJo Fletcher that he loved her, “no matter how much I felt for JoJo, I knew I could never say goodbye to Lauren.”
RELATED VIDEO: When Did The Bachelor‘s Ben Higgins Know That Lauren Bushnell Was the One for Him?
In fact, it was at times a struggle from the beginning for Higgins to focus on dating other women when he felt so strongly for Bushnell.
“From the time she got out of the limo, to the first time I saw her walk around the corner at a cocktail party, everything kept being better than I ever expected,” says Higgins, 26. “That was freaking me out! I wasn’t used to that.”
• For much more from Ben and Lauren’s new life together, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
And Higgins knew he had to give his all to the process, as difficult as it could be.
“There were women who gave up their lives to try to see if things could work, and I had agreed, made a promise to myself that I would go through this. There were times that I had to fool myself into thinking I was open to other women. It was too good to be true! And as weird as it sounds, it’s not fair to not be open.”
RELATED VIDEO: ‘Happily Engaged!’ The Bachelor Couple Revealed
His openness led to an expression of love for Fletcher, one that Higgins doesn’t regret, but that he’s “moved on” from.
“It’s super confusing,” says Higgins of falling for two women. “But I really had to dive into where my heart was. At the end, I found the person I want to be with. There are a lot of goodbyes in The Bachelor process. Now I’ll never have to say goodbye again.”