Exclusive: Ryan Smith talks about his time on 'Love in the Wild' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/10/2012
Love in the Wild contestant Ryan Smith was eliminated during last Tuesday night's broadcast of the NBC reality dating competition's fifth second-season episode.
Ryan was ousted from the show after his partner Jenna Gillund decided they should only move forward as friends and intentionally put them in danger of elimination in the "unmatched area." Ali Leitza had a chance to choose between Ryan and Jesse Wilson at the end of the Couples Choice Ceremony but opted out of the opportunity and chose to go home instead.
On Monday, Ryan, a 27-year-old from Boise, ID who currently resides in San Francisco, CA, talked to Reality TV World about his Love in the Wild experience and how he felt about Jenna's unexpected decision to stop attempting to form a romantic connection -- including what mixed signals Jenna gave him prior to the ceremony, whether he felt Jenna had completely led him on, why he's still confused about their relationship, and how sick he really felt while trying to compete in the last adventure.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Ryan. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: You seemed pretty shocked when Jenna told you she had no desire to get a romance going between you guys after all you had been through together. What was going through your mind in that moment, and is it safe to say you didn't see that coming in the slightest?
Ryan Smith: I can't say the slightest bit. I was definitely kind of throughout that day of the ceremony, I was noticing some subtle hints from Jenna, just some hesitancy that I hadn't seen before then. And I even asked her at one point, I'm like, "Are we good?" And her response was, "Ugh, yeah," kind of like a "yeah" with a question mark. (Laughs)
So at that point, I started doubting the situation a little bit. I was still optimistic that she would kind of pull through and choose me, but you know, I still was a bit shocked when she said those things.
Reality TV World: Jenna admitted in her final words she gave you mixed signals while on the show. So besides what you just mentioned, was there anything else she did or said that confused you? It sounds like she said you guys were okay but her body language was saying something different.
Ryan Smith: Yeah, I think first off, I think Jenna and I were very comfortable with each other the entire time. It was like we had been living together for months and super comfortable, and I had talked to her about some of her romantic feelings towards me and she was pretty shy and a little distant when those conversations came up.
She mentioned that she kind of went on the show with this idea that she wasn't going to find anyone and she wasn't going to kiss anyone or show any kind of romantic feelings towards anyone.
So having that [mindset] going into a show like that, I mean, it's tough if there was potential for a romantic connection. You already have this idea in your head. It's tough. But yeah, there were definitely some mixed signals and maybe I read into it a little more, but it sounds like she knew that she was getting mixed signals. So, I don't know. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Did you kind of think Jenna had led you on the entire time or would you give her the benefit of the doubt by saying maybe she didn't discover you two weren't right for each other until right before the ceremony -- meaning she didn't have time to talk things out with you sooner?
Ryan Smith: Yeah, I was still in the dark with the situation. I thought things were going really well. I thought she just wanted to play it slow, and a couple of the other contestants were doing the same thing. I know [Kenneth Barrington] and [Yanina Beccaria] were kind of going slow and stuff like that.
So I thought that was just how Jenna was. That right there was more of an attraction for me, that she wanted to play it slow, but I didn't realize it was because she was having this hesitancy about me being like a romantic partner. I guess I didn't see that.
Reality TV World: I know you just assumed things were moving slowly but at a steady pace, so looking back, do you have any insight as to why Jenna wasn't that into you when you clearly had feelings invested in her? Do you now realize something really was missing between you guys?
Ryan Smith: To be honest with you, I still am not sure that Jenna doesn't have romantic feelings for me. (Laughs) And that's being honest. I think that she, I don't know! There's something about her wanting to, I guess, show those feelings or kind of act on those feelings. And maybe just because I'm not open with her enough or I wasn't communicating enough, but I don't know. Yeah, I guess I'm not exactly sure about that.
Reality TV World: From your end of things, do you think you had more of a physical attraction to Jenna or was there much more that fed into the connection you believed you had with her?
Ryan Smith: I think it's two-fold. I think one, I was definitely physically attracted to Jenna. And also, I was attracted to her bubbly personality. I know a couple of other -- I think ["Chase" Aaron Chase] mentioned it too.
But it's definitely a [plus] for me when a girl is like that and she's able to kind of be herself and bubbly, and her smile's great. She kind of has a free-spirit attitude, which is kind of a little bit of the opposite of me, and so, that "opposites attract" mentality kind of plays in there.
Reality TV World: Did you go into the last Couples Choice Ceremony pretty certain you'd be staying in the competition or was there a part of you that anticipating being eliminated for any reason?
Ryan Smith: Well, it was funny because I specifically remember my interview going into it, and I think they might've played the wrong interview during the show. I specifically remember saying in the interview that my chances were probably like 60/40 at that point because I remember having a conversation with Jenna saying -- she was saying, "Yes, I think we're okay."
But I still was sensing that kind of uncertainty with her, and so, going into it, I was realistically optimistic I guess. (Laughs) I don't know!
Reality TV World: What's the status of your relationship with Jenna like now? Did you guys ever talk things out and become friends or are things still rocky and awkward between you two?
Ryan Smith: I'm trying to think of how much -- (Laughs). You know, things are a little rocky at this point. At one point, things were okay and we were friends, and I won't get into it too much, but things right now are not really great with Jenna and I.
Reality TV World: So then what's happening with your dating life now? Are you seeing anyone new or are you still single?
Ryan Smith: Yeah, I'm definitely still single. I'm single and looking, I guess. I'm just living in San Francisco and definitely have been open for a relationship. I've dated a couple different women since I've been back, but nothing is serious at this point, so I'm still kind of open.
Reality TV World: You seemed really sick going into the last episode's adventure, and Jenna even offered for you guys to sit it out if you needed to. But based on the way things turned out between you and Jenna, do you regret pushing yourself in that adventure and not resting instead?
Ryan Smith: No, no. I came there to compete and be in the adventures and stuff, and if there was any part of me that could do it, I was going to do it. And going into it, I wanted to compete in the adventures so bad because at that point, with Jenna and I, things were going well.
I felt good about where we were at, and so I knew that I had to compete in order for us not to get last. And so, that was a huge motivator for me. Even now, once I -- Jenna kind of felt how she felt -- I'm still glad I competed and at least gave it a chance.
Reality TV World: How sick were you? What was wrong and did you see a doctor? Did you have to get medically cleared to compete?
Ryan Smith: Yeah, I was an absolute mess. I just couldn't hold food down and when I would eat, I would throw up. I was going to the bathroom like six, seven times a day. It was ridiculous. It was bad. I think I lost -- I weighed myself when before I went there and I was about 196 and I got back and I weighed myself and I was about 181. So I lost about 15 pounds. I was pretty skinny.
Reality TV World: The show made it seem like you got through the adventure pretty well although you were feeling ill. Were there any moments you had to stop or felt like you couldn't continue on that viewers didn't get to see?
Ryan Smith: Yeah I mean, they didn't show this before, but I was talking to some of the executive producers right before the show started and they're like, "Are you good to go?" And I'm like, "I don't know how I think I can do it."
But once it starts and you kind of get that adrenaline going and you kind of forget about the pains and the lethargic stuff, then the adrenaline takes over and you're able to get through it. Once it's kind of over with, then it kind of catches up with you and you're like, "Oh God, now I remember how I feel!" (Laughs)
Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Ryan. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.