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'The Bachelor' star Ben Flajnik narrows search for love to 13 women


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/17/2012 

The Bachelor star Ben Flajnik eliminated three bachelorettes and watched another one choose to quit and leave on her own during last night's broadcast of the ABC reality dating series' sixteenth season.

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Brittney Schreiner, a 26-year-old medical sales representative from Denver, CO, decided to leave the competition, while Jaclyn Swartz, a 27-year-old advertising account manager from Newton, MA; Erika Uhlig, a 23-year-old law student from Chicago, IL; and former fifteenth-season The Bachelor bachelorette Shawntel Newton -- who traveled to San Francisco to talk to Ben in attempt to join the bachelorettes on the show and vie for his affection -- were eliminated during the third episode's Rose Ceremony.

"I was very confident that I was going to get a rose tonight. I'm just really confused. There was a connection there with Ben and I, and I think he just wasn't being man enough to accept that. Apparently he cracked under pressure," Shawntel said following her ouster.

"It's great that he's trying to be fair and whatever, but this is about someone that you're going to be with for the rest of your life. I don't think fair really comes into play right now. I was so not expecting to come home right now. I just feel so dumb."

The Bachelor's third sixteenth-season episode began with the remaining 16 bachelorettes traveling to San Francisco where Ben currently resides. They were excited to see where he lives, while Ben was happy because he could meet up with his sister Julia and talk to her about the process thus far.

Julia asked Ben which bachelorettes stood out to him for any reason and he specifically mentioned Lindzi Cox, a 27-year-old business development manager from Seattle, WA, for riding in on a horse; Kacie Boguskie, a 24-year-old administrative assistant from Clarksville, TN, for twirling a baton like their mother could apparently do; and Courtney Robertson, a 28-year-old model from Santa Monica, CA, for having similar personality traits as Julia -- such as being down-to-earth and laid back.

Ben also discussed Emily O'Brien, a 27-year-old PhD student from Chapel Hill, NC, for being nerdy but funny and Jennifer Fritsch, a 28-year-old accountant from Oklahoma City, OK, for being the best kisser in the house.

Julia was excited about Ben's opportunity to find love but also didn't want his heart to get broken again.

After the ladies settled into their temporary hotel suite, The Bachelor host Chris Harrison told them there would be two one-on-one dates and one group date over the course of the next week. There would be a rose up for grabs during each date -- and if the bachelorettes on the one-on-one dates failed to receive a rose, they would be ousted immediately.

The date card then revealed that Emily would be accompanying Ben on the week's first one-on-one date and Courtney was a little bitter over The Bachelor star's choice.

"I'm sure the date with Emily will be a little boring. Some of these girls are really well educated, but I always say that book smart can be a little boring," Courtney said.

Ben took Emily to the Bay Bridge and told her they'd be climbing to the top of it although Emily had a fear of heights. They were to climb 535 feet together, and Ben wasn't comfortable with heights either.

"I feel like I want to die. I am horrified of this. Get me out of here. I can't do it," Emily said.

"Relationships are all about trust and diving head first into the unknown. Things like overcoming fears can only make a relationship stronger, especially when you can do it together. If Emily and I can climb to the top of the Bay Bridge together, there is no telling how far we can take this relationship," Ben explained.

Emily panicked once the bridge really began to incline, and Ben kissed her in attempt to comfort her and put her nerves at ease. He wanted her to know he was there for her and as a result, Emily didn't want to give up. The couple ended up successfully making it to the top of the bridge and they enjoyed the view, which Emily called "magical," together. Emily was thrilled she accomplished the goal and faced her fears.

That night, Ben and Emily had dinner together with the Bay Bridge in sight from their table, and they discussed their previous relationships and dating life. Emily told him she had tried online dating, but the service wrongly matched her up with her brother. Emily said her two biggest fears were rejection and heights, and although she conquered one of them, there was still another looming overhead.

Back at the house, the other 15 women learned who would share the group date with Ben.

Blakeley Shea, a 34-year-old VIP cocktail waitress from Charlotte, NC; Jaclyn; Kacie B; Erika; Samantha Levey, a 26-year-old advertising account manager from Los Angeles, CA; Monica Spannbauer, a 33-year-old dental consultant from Salt Lake City, UT; Rachel Truehart, a 27-year-old fashion sales representative from New York City, NY; Nicki Sterling, a 26-year-old dental hygienist from Hurst, TX; Casey Shteamer, a 26-year-old trading clerk from Leawood, KS; Elyse Myers, a 24-year-old personal trainer from Chicago, IL; and Jamie Otis, a 25-year-old registered nurse from Dryden, NY, accompanied Ben on the week's group date.

Meanwhile, Ben offered Emily a rose on their one-on-one date.

"I like where this is going. I like how we interact. You're quick and you're witty and you just get it, and that's what I look for in a woman. Today, being able to handle that monster [the bridge], I honestly don't know anyone that could handle that. My father loved my mother because he thought that she was smarter than he was and in fact, I think that you're probably smarter than me. I always try to live up to my father's expectations and the man that he was. So, Emily, will you accept this rose?" Ben asked.

"After getting the rose, I know that this date cannot get any better than it already is. I conquered my fear and then I had dinner with him and it was perfect. We kissed and it was perfect. We drank champagne and that was perfect. I can't imagine anything topping this," Emily said after happily accepting the rose.

The couple then enjoyed a private fireworks show, and Ben said the bar was set high and he might be able to spend the rest of his life with Emily.

The next morning, the 11 bachelorettes accompanying Ben on the group date learned they would be going snow skiing on a hot day in San Francisco. The girls stripped down into their bathing suits and skied down a closed off street, laughing and falling the entire time with Ben.

Back at the house, Lindzi was hoping she'd get the next one-on-one date because she felt stuck in the first night since she got the first impression rose. She desperately wanted to strengthen their connection, but Brittney ended up getting the date. And for some reason, Brittney seemed both shocked about the opportunity and disappointed, and her emotions were obvious to the other girls.

"It's a little unfair to me. I think there's a lot of people here who want this. It takes away from other people who want to get to know him, and that's me," Jennifer said.

"Something just doesn't feel right to me. This is probably going to be the most amazing date I'll ever go on, and I should be thrilled and excited, but I'm not. I'm torn and I'm confused," Brittney explained.

Meanwhile, on the group date, Ben and his bachelorettes had time to get to know each other a little better. Rachel was the first person to snag some alone time with Ben and they shared their first kiss.

Kacie B. then pulled Ben aside and wanted to re-connect the bond they had formed during their previous one-on-one date together. She told him it was so hard to see him date other girls, and Ben told her to remember what they had and focus on their own relationship. He then kissed her, relieving Kacie's tension.

"There's something about Kacie B. She sparkles. Her personality, her everything. She's really sweet and she gets me, and I think I get her. That one's going to be trouble for me. Good trouble. I like her," Ben said.

Brittney was unsure about whether she wanted to continue the process. She thought Ben was a great guy, but she didn't think her heart was fully in it and was "completely overwhelmed."

"I'll cut to the chase. These circumstances are just not for me. I really don't want to be in a house with 25 other girls. I made a promise to myself that if my heart's not in this, then I don't want to stay. I think I'm just going to go home," Brittney told Emily.

"This has been the hardest decision of my life. Not knowing what I could have had with Ben is hard. It's really hard walking away from this and it's why I'm so upset, but this has been extremely difficult. It's a very awkward situation. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I have to follow my heart and my heart is just not here."

Brittney then showed up at Ben's group date to talk to him and she told him the right girl for him was in that house but it just wasn't her. She revealed she was leaving the show and Ben was seemingly dumbfounded over her decision. Ben was surprised she abruptly ended their relationship because he said he gave her "an honest chance." Ben simply put it as "it sucks."

"This is very hard to walk away from and say goodbye especially since I haven't really had any one-on-one time with Ben. There's a huge part of me that thinks I might regret this. This, by far, was the hardest decision of my life," Brittney said after she quit.

"Brittney leaving was a bit of a curveball. Brittney leaving makes this all more real for me. Her departure represents the fact that any of these women can leave whenever they want. If the woman who I potentially could be falling in love with doesn't feel the same way and backs out, then I'm left here alone again and that worries me," Ben said. "I hope that I get to leave this with someone that I can share my life with."

Once Brittney left, Ben determined who he should present the group date's rose to.

"Tonight I want to give the rose to someone who opened up to me and I got to know a bit more about this evening -- someone that was unexpected, actually. So, Rachel, would you accept this rose?" Ben asked.

"I'm blushing. This is probably one of the best days of my life. When he said my name, I was just on Cloud 9. It's so strange to think of this as your first step in the journey of falling in love. I'm so excited to be here," Rachel said.

The next day, the girls received another date card and learned that Lindzi would be getting the week's last one-on-one date with Ben -- seemingly replacing Brittney on what would have been her date.

Ben and Lindzi rode a trolley through the city, got some ice cream and then went to San Francisco City Hall where Matt Nathanson played a private concert for them. The couple danced and kissed to the music, and while Lindzi said she normally doesn't kiss on the first date, she let it happen and liked it.

Ben felt that Lindzi had potential and after the concert, they shared dinner in a private room at the Bourbon & Branch restaurant. Ben liked that she was funny, open, honest, and that she was herself.

The couple then discussed how Lindzi had once been dumped via text and how Ben had gotten over his embarrassing failed proposal to former The Bachelorette star Ashley Hebert. However, Lindzi said she found happiness in her life following her breakup and she wanted to fall in love with someone and start a life with that person.

The couple then bonded over the fact they could laugh off life's problems and heartaches and move on to something better.

"I've been utterly impressed with you, and I want you to know that you're making a lasting impression -- not just a first impression. I like the potential and I like where this is headed. So, Lindzi, will you accept this rose?" Ben asked.

Lindzi said the night was magical and she was speechless, while Ben said he thought she was the complete woman and he was very attracted to her. Ben liked the fact that Lindzi knew what she wanted out of life and knew who she was as a person. The couple then played piano together and danced and kissed a little more.

"I love this feeling. I think this is the beginning of something very special between me and Ben. I'm excited to see where it's going to lead. I don't think there's anything that could ruin tonight," Lindzi said.

Afterward, Shawntel called up Chris while she was driving to San Francisco to tell him she was on her way.

"I'm getting really excited. I really feel like this could be meant to be. I'm looking forward to seeing you and most of all, seeing Ben. See you in a little while. Thanks Chris," Shawntel said.

Shawntel said she wanted to compete on Ben's season of The Bachelor because they had talked a few times, and she thought they had made a connection.

"He's going to totally fall in love with me," Shawntel said.

Meanwhile, the cocktail party preceding the Rose Ceremony had begun, so each of the bachelorettes would have one last chance to secure some personal time with Ben.

Ben told the girls he was ready to fall in love and that the girls were exceeding his expectations. He then talked to Jennifer alone and she was very straight forward with him. She admitted she simply liked him and wasn't afraid about things moving fast. Ben said he had a good feeling about her and told her she was the "best kisser, hands down" in the house.

Jennifer then admitted in a confessional that she was already falling in love with Ben, but she wasn't the only woman completely smitten with The Bachelor star.

"I came on The Bachelor a year ago, fell in love with [Brad Womack] and he sent me home. I was heartbroken. I was confused and I grieved, but I got through it and I realized it was actually a blessing in disguise. The only reason why I'm here is because Ben is the Bachelor," Shawntel said.

"He's everything I want in a guy. This is my only chance with Ben because he's going to be engaged in a couple months. If I didn't do this, I would always think in my mind, 'What if?' I don't want to live my life thinking that. In ways, I think that this could be a total fairytale, and so, here I am."

Shawntel then met Chris outside, and she was told she had to get ready for the cocktail party and get his attention there. Shawntel said her feelings for Ben were very strong and she hoped he felt the same way about her, which would make everything worth it for her.

Meanwhile, Ben was spending some alone time with Nicki and Courtney was not enjoying the view.

"It's really hard dealing with these girls. Most of these girls are the kind of girls I would never be friends with. They're very naive and very juvenile. Nicki, bless her little heart, she's so sweet but you look like an idiot," Courtney said. "Blakeley could definitely be going home tonight. She's the kind of girl that your boyfriend cheats on you with and I honestly can't wait until there's less girls... let's trim the fat."

Emily believed Courtney had a social disorder, but Casey S. thought she was just misunderstood. Ben then got a little time with Courtney and assured her that he was thinking about and missed her. Courtney said she felt good about their relationship in her heart, and they both admitted they liked each other a lot. Courtney said she had big shoulders to carry the weight of the competition on.

"It feels in my mind like this could be it. It's a wrap. I think we're exactly on the same page. Ben and I have such a strong connection at this point that I don't feel threatened by really any of the girls here," Courtney said.

Meanwhile, Shawntel knew the girls were going to hate her, but she was ready to take the risk because she wanted to be with Ben for the rest of her life. The bachelorettes were all shocked when Shawntel arrived and made her entrance, and they began questioning her identity and what she was doing there. Shawntel then interrupted Ben's time with Elyse, and Ben said "holy sh-t" when he saw her.

Shawntel told Ben she had feelings for him after talking in the past and needed to know if they had something. She said it was up to him to give her a rose, and if he chose to, they could start where they had left off before the show.

Ben was speechless and shocked but knew she could be a girl he'd like to date. Ben then introduced her to the rest of the girls, and Shawntel was immediately torn apart by the other girls and interrogated.

The bachelorettes believed it was impossible for Shawntel to have a real connection with Ben. They thought she was fake and Courtney called her appearance "whack," insisting that if Ben ended up giving Shawntel a rose, she'd be done.

Rachel said she "didn't like the b-tch," while the rest of the bachelorettes were steaming from the ears and breaking down into tears over the thought Ben might have interest in a girl who wasn't even a part of the competition. Some of the girls assumed Ben and Shawntel had chemistry.

"I think she's uglier in person and she's got thicker thighs than I do, which always makes me feel better," Erika said.

"Just because she did a season before this she automatically gets to come back? What is this? We don't re-use Brad's dumpster trash. Just go. Just go. I feel like I'm better than Shawntel. I do, and I think that, 'Listen girl, you've gotten your chance and you frickin lost.' I respect Ben enough to know that he's not going to accept Brad's leftovers," Jaclyn said.

Courtney got upset and said she had real feelings for Ben and didn't want to fall in love that way and Nicki admitted she was not okay with Shawntel's return.

Without any further discussion, Ben requested that they get straight to the Rose Ceremony after he had some time to think.

"Right now, I'm totally confused on what I'm going to do tonight. If I let Shawntel go, I could be missing out on a potential partner. She's one of those women where I could see myself with her. But the fact that there are so many incredible women here, it worries me that I'm going to make the wrong decision," Ben said.

"If Ben picks Shawntel over the girls here, I would totally look at him in a different light," Elyse said. "What do you really have to think about Ben? This psychopath from a season ago? No."

The Bachelor's third Rose Ceremony then commenced.

Besides Rachel, Emily and Lindzi, Ben gave roses to Courtney, Kacie B., Elyse, Jamie, Jennifer, Casey S., Blakeley, Monica, Nicki, and Samantha.

The ceremony was then interrupted when Erika started to feel lightheaded, like she was going to pass out. She lay down and drank water, while Jaclyn was bawling because she did not want to be eliminated because of Shawntel, "a girl he knew for three minutes."

Before handing out his final rose and having to choose between Erika, Jaclyn and Shawntel, Ben wanted to say a few words.

"I want to thank you again for being here. I know that emotions run high and it's difficult. It's just tough. These decisions are getting really difficult. Erika, it's been an absolute pleasure getting to know you. Jaclyn, I appreciate you opening up to me in the last few times we've had a chance to chat," Ben said.

"Shawntel, I am flattered in the fact that you have come all this way and put it all on the line to try to find love. But as difficult as this decision has been and as wonderful as you all are, I unfortunately think that I just can't hand out this final rose tonight."

"I am such an emotional wreck," Jaclyn said.

As a result, all three women were eliminated. Erika felt like she was going to faint again and Jaclyn left crying, and then Ben walked Shawntel out.

"I just didn't think it was fair to myself and to you and to the rest of the girls. I'm sorry, but like I said, I'm flattered and I can't believe you came out here to see me. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. No hard feelings, I hope? Take care," Ben said.

"You too. Good luck," Shawntel told him.


(Photo credit ABC)


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