Exclusive: Summer Mack talks about her 'Love in the Wild' experience (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/19/2012
Summer Mack and her partner "Chase" Aaron Chase were eliminated from Love in the Wild, which determined its Final 2 couples, during Tuesday night's penultimate episode of the second season of the NBC reality dating series.
Summer, a 32-year-old from Satellite Beach, FL who currently resides in Indian Harbour Beach, FL, and Chase were eliminated from the competition after Kenneth Barrington and his partner Yanina Beccaria -- who finished first in the week's adventure and were therefore able to select which of the other remaining two couples should be sent home and which one would be their opponent in the finale -- chose to oust them because they had always posed a big threat in the challenges as a couple.
On Wednesday, Summer talked to Reality TV World about her Love in the Wild experience and relationship with Chase -- including whether they're still together, what happened between them when they both moved home and tried to work things out, why she left the show with a lot of doubts about her relationship with Chase, and how she thought Benjamin Clark and Michelle Sacco's relationship greatly differed from her own.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Summer. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion. Our interview with Chase will also be coming soon.
Reality TV World: At the end of this week's Love in the Wild episode, it said you two are still dating and have been visiting each other every other week. How is that going? Is your relationship still going strong?
Summer Mack: Yeah, no. Definitely. When we got back to the real world, he definitely made a huge effort to come visit me first and we had a really good weekend together.
So we've been bouncing back and forth from coast to coast, which is kind of expensive and time consuming, but totally worth it. He's actually coming to visit me this weekend for my birthday, so I'm really excited to see him. I get to see him on a good day!
Reality TV World: Happy early Birthday! (Laughs)
Summer Mack: Thank you!
Reality TV World: The broadcast last night mentioned Chase met your parents. How did that go? What did your parents think of him? And also, have you met his parents or do you plan on meeting them soon?
Summer Mack: Yeah, so I met his dad and I met his brother. We all went out to eat, and so I met that side of his family. He did meet my family. It was before the show had aired, so nobody really knew or had any preconceived notions about who he was, and he's a total sweetheart, so everybody absolutely loved him.
Then of course, after the show came out and they got to see him and kind of expand on his character, it just re-confirmed what a great guy he was. So, he got along really well with everyone.
Reality TV World: The show also said you plan on moving to California to be closer to Chase. Have you definitely decided to move? If so, when?
Summer Mack: So, yeah. He lives in Newport Beach and I live in a small beach town in Florida, and it was really funny when I went to visit him. It felt like I was kind of at home but just with more of a California twist on things. It was a little bit of an upgrade from where I live and I really liked it, and all of his friends are really nice.
So in the beginning I thought, "Maybe I could move here!" And after visiting a couple times, I actually began looking at places and for me, at first, I wouldn't move in with him. I'd kind of get my own place and let the relationship progress. And I'm thinking maybe end of September, early October, is when the new start might be a really good time.
Reality TV World: Well I wish you the best of luck with that! When you and Chase left the show, especially considering the distance between you guys, did you ever think you'd make it to the point you're at now? I know you hoped to build on your connection once you both got home, but were you really confident at the time you could make that happen and form a successful relationship?
Summer Mack: That's a good question, because that was one of the things that was my biggest concern with being on the show and one of the reasons why I really wanted to take it slow and get to know him and really form a good connection, because I knew it was going to be challenging when we came back and I was on the East Coast and he was on the West Coast.
I did have some serious doubts, and one of the things that he reassured me about when we parted on our own individual flights was that he was going to do everything that he could to make it work and put in as much effort that he needed to on his end to make sure that we could maybe build on what we've started. And so, his reassurance really did help me to feel like it could really progress.
But you know, actions really speak louder than words, and so, when I did get back and we kind of started to build on things and everything came together and we were both putting in a good amount of effort, all those doubts went away and I knew that when you have a guy that's willing to really put in 100% percent, I mean, it could really make a relationship work regardless of how far apart you live.
Reality TV World: When you guys got home and you tried to develop your relationship, what was the most difficult hurdle of them all to overcome? And also, how do you think being onLove in the Wildtogether prepared you to handle that?
Summer Mack: Probably the most difficult hurdle was just setting up this time frame that was right for us to see each other that we could both work with that was like enough.
We discussed -- because it is expensive to fly back and forth, so you know, some things are cost-prohibitive -- but what did I need on my side in order for him to be here in the frequency I needed to see him to feel like I was good with this and good with us progressing? And the same for him.
If we see each other once every few months, it might not be enough to really build on something. So, I think that being on the show kind of did prepare us for that, because we learned how to communicate well and how we'd live together and what each person needed to feel a sense of fulfillment in our relationship so that we could make it work outside of that bubble that we were in.
It seemed to prepare us pretty well, because we were able to communicate on the phone through great conversations, and it kind of fills in the gaps of when we can't see each other.
Reality TV World: Where do you see yourself being with Chase a few years or maybe even five years from now? Is marriage or anything like that in your future plans?
Summer Mack: You know, one of the things I mentioned on the show when they asked us about who's most ready to be married and have kids, and I said, "Both," it was a total dodo answer, but I really had a hard time picking either one of those because we have had that conversation.
And we both talked about what our five-year plans were, and I felt like they were pretty solid on both ends on what we were both looking for in the next five years. We both wanted to be married and on the way to having kids.
So, for me, we have had that conversation and I think that's where we both see ourselves. And if things continue to progress the way that they are and the way that they have been, you know, and if we stay positive, I could definitely see that in the future for us at some point.
But it's still hard to guess so far out, so I think for now, we're just taking it day by day and enjoying this experience and enjoying the show and our new friends and kind of going with it as it comes. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Ben seemed to think your relationship was mainly friendly and that you two just thrived on the competition together. You both didn't really argue his point to a great extent, so why was that? Did you feel like you didn't owe them an explanation because you simply knew what you and Chase had, or at that time, did you not blame them for thinking that based on how you had interacted together in front of them?
Summer Mack: Yeah honestly, I just think that we didn't concern ourselves with what Ben and Michelle thought of us. There's certain people in your life that their opinions matter to you -- my family and my really close friends. It really matters to me what they think about the person that I'm dating and I'm spending my time with, but Ben and Michelle and their opinions of us were completely irrelevant to me.
And for me to spend the time and energy defending what Chase and I had to people like that, it was just not something that I wanted to focus on while I was there. I had another focus, and that was hanging out with Chase and building on what we had.
I wasn't going to validate that mentality of building -- like Ben and Michelle building themselves up by trying to tear Chase and I down. I don't think that that's nice, and you know, we were kind of labeled as the competitive couple.
But I would rather be labeled competitive than catty any day of the week, and we're very like-minded when it comes to things like that and I think we stay really classy and true to ourselves and we just didn't want to go there with them. It wasn't worth our time.
Reality TV World: Did you two have any ill feelings towards Ben when you left the show, and do you have any now?
Summer Mack: Oh no, I don't have any ill feelings. I mean, you know, my time is spent bonding with the people that I thought were going to be good friends of mine once I left. We had a very tight bond with Ken and Yanina, and I think towards the end of the show, that started to play out and we're still great friends with them.
So, there are certain people that you have that are like-minded and that you get along well with, and then other people that you're friendly with but you just don't see having that close of a friendship with. And so, for us, there were no ill feelings, and for me, there was no ill will towards Ben.
It's just a different approach to how you're going to interact with other people and how you're going to interact with other couples, and it just isn't an approach I take, because I don't feel like I have a lot in common with him. And you know, we're just very different people. I wish them, Ben and Michelle, all the best. They're just so different from us it's just kind of hard to find a common ground.
Reality TV World: I know you said you and Chase didn't really care what Ben and Michelle thought of your relationship, but Ben seemed to think you didn't have much of a romantic connection mainly because you weren't very affectionate with each other and things like that. So just to clarify, were you two just not affectionate in public or would you say at that point you two just weren't really comfortable being affectionate in general?
Summer Mack: Yeah, I think that there are different levels of affection, and I think that each couple has to go on what they feel comfortable with. On my end, after knowing a guy for two weeks, I'm not comfortable making out with him and being touchy-feely.
And I wouldn't be like that in my normal life, so I didn't feel like I wanted to compromise how I am in my normal life just because I'm on TV. I'm there to be myself and I want somebody to respect me for my boundaries.
And when I'm just getting to know somebody and I'm just getting to know a guy, in the past, two or three weeks into it, we're just kind of now having our first kiss and now kind of progressing at that point. I just felt like it was really important to be true to that. Just because I was in a different environment, I wasn't going to change who I was.
I talked about that with Chase and he really respected that, and that made me feel really comfortable, and you know, I was able to progress the relationship at a rate I felt comfortable. And I feel like most women probably would, and I think that, with Ken and Yanina, they had a different dichotomy with their relationship because they were starting so early on being together.
Chase and I didn't really find each other until halfway through the show. So, we had a bit of time that we didn't spend together and had we had that extra length of time, we may have been able to get to the point that Ken and Yanina were at. But as far as Ben and Michelle, I personally thought that they moved awfully quick and that's just not my style.
Reality TV World: So based upon the fact you're talking about how you and Chase had moved pretty slowly, would you say the dynamic of your relationship was a friendship that quickly grew into a romantic connection, or did you two automatically click and find that chemistry right off the bat but just chose to take it slow?
Summer Mack: I mean, I think we automatically had a chemistry with each other, but I think it was on multiple levels. It wasn't just physical, and we chose to explore the other sides of our relationship and not just make it about hooking up, being touchy feely -- it was really about getting to know each other, because unless we laid that groundwork down when we were on the show, how are we going to make it work when we're on different coasts?
If all we did was cuddle and snuggle and kiss each other, we weren't putting in the time to really get to know each other to see if it was really a connection on a deeper level. We talked about that a lot and we really knew each other really well. I think even with that dating game we did on the show, it showed that we really knew each other pretty well.
Reality TV World: You made it clear that just because you and Chase weren't taking showers together and such like Ben and Michelle were, it didn't mean you and Chase didn't like each other a lot. So based on how Ben and Michelle acted while you were on the show, did you think they simply had a physical attraction to each other or did you think they had something deeper than that?
Summer Mack: I think that their attraction started on the physical side. I can't really answer if they had anything deeper, because I wasn't around them enough. But it seemed like while Chase and I were talking and laughing and getting to know each other and asking questions like, "What's your five-year plan?" They were more on a physical side.
And to be honest with you, like I said, after hanging out with a guy for two weeks, I'm not going to take a shower with him when I'm back home, so I'm not going to do it when I'm on the show. So, you have to kind of look at the time frame and you have to look at -- although the situation is different, you don't want to compromise what you would normally do.
And so for me, like I said, two weeks into knowing a guy, I'm not taking a shower with him and cuddling with him in bed every night. We've probably been on one or two dates and we're just starting to get to know each other, and I wanted to maintain that sense of integrity for myself.
Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Summer. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion. Our interview with Chase will also be coming soon.
(Photo credit NBC)
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