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'The Bachelor' star Ben Higgins: 'Dancing with the Stars' isn't best for my relationship with Lauren Bushnell right now


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/15/2016 

The Bachelor star Ben Higgins chose Lauren Bushnell and proposed marriage to her at the end of his search for love.

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During The Bachelor's Season 20 finale Monday night on ABC, Ben got down on one knee and asked Lauren, a 25-year-old flight attendant from Marina Del Rey, CA -- the woman of his dreams -- to marry him. Lauren accepted the proposal whole-heartedly with tears in her eyes and immense love in her heart.

However, Ben's happy ending meant a devastating one for runner-up Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher, a 24-year-old real estate developer from Dallas, TX, who was absolutely blindsided and crushed.

On Tuesday, Ben and Lauren talked about their experience on the show, engagement and future. Below is what they had to say. Check back with Reality TV World soon for more from the happy couple.

Reality TV World: Ben, you admitted in your first blog seeing Lauren step out of a limo on Night 1 was the answer to your prayers to God. Did you therefore consider it love at first sight with Lauren and the other women basically needed to catch up to her? Was it in essence Lauren vs. the field all along, or did you genuinely feel a split of affection between several contestants?

Ben Higgins: Well, you know, the interesting part of this experience is every relationship moves at different paces and different levels, and you know that going in, right? When women stepped out of that limo on the first night, I knew every relationship isn't always going to look the same or seem the same.

Do I think Lauren and my connection, or my feelings for Lauren, were very strong right away? Yes. Did I think though, "Oh, every other woman needs to catch up?" No. I was still going to be open to the process, but Lauren definitely caught my eye on Night 1.

Reality TV World: Ben, you talked to E! News at The Women Tell All about competing on Dancing with the Stars but your answer was vague and confusing as to whether you were actually offered a spot. So could you clarify that? And if you were asked to compete on DWTS but turned down the opportunity, did your relationship with Lauren have anything to do with that? Maybe because you wouldn't be able to focus on your engagement now that The Bachelor is over?

Ben Higgins: See that's it. That's exactly what it is. Maybe my answer was confusing because my focus was not on what was next, it was on Lauren and I. And any decision that was made post-show or whatever decisions made next to our relationship were based on what was best for us.

And I believe that what's best for us right now is to really concentrate on who we are as a couple and spend as much time together as possible.

Reality TV World: We never saw much talk of relocation on the show. Lauren, you revealed during After the Final Rose you're moving to Denver. Could you tell me how that conversation unfolded? How did you two make the decision that Lauren's going to be the one to move instead of Ben?

Ben Higgins: Go ahead, hunny, you get that.

Lauren Bushnell: (Laughs) You know what? I think going into that conversation, we both were open to moving. I think we both decided though that it made the most sense to go to Denver, and I was really excited about that.

And Ben owns a home there. So it just made the most sense, and with my job, it's a job that I can really live anywhere in the country, so I wouldn't have to, you know, find another occupation.

So that seemed to just make sense, and on top of it, I've lived in [Los Angeles] for a few years now, and it was fun, but it was never a place that I necessarily saw myself settling down in. So, after discussing all of this, it just kind of made the most sense, and it was the decision we were both most excited about.

Reality TV World: Lauren, you said you took the news well of Ben telling JoJo he loved her because it wasn't that much of a surprise. But you two joked on Jimmy Kimmel's show last night about how a blowup or some big fight "might've already happened." So is there any truth to that? Were there real heated moments or was your journey since filming wrapped truly smooth sailing?

Lauren Bushnell: (Laughs) No, you know what? When he told me that, it wasn't fun to hear. I didn't enjoy hearing it. It was hurtful, and I think this whole thing has been an emotional rollercoaster, right? So I feel like at one moment, I'm super -- especially as these episodes are airing and you're reliving it, you're reliving those emotions!

During the show, it's been an emotional rollercoaster. So, you know, a lot of the discussions that we had to have, haven't necessarily been fun, but they've been really good for our relationship. And, you know, I wouldn't call it a "blowout," but there's been times where I felt angry or sad or confused because I've never been in his shoes before.

But in every one of those situations, we stopped and talked it out. And Ben is such a good listener and so good at understanding, that it's helped me get through those times if I am feeling upset or confused.

Reality TV World: Ben, there's been speculation JoJo's brothers played a role in your final decision to pick Lauren because they gave you a really hard time and seemed to offend you and question your character. Can you honestly say her brothers weren't a factor -- even when comparing them to Lauren's family, which you described as a perfect family fit for a Christmas card?

Ben Higgins: (Laughs) I do agree with that statement by the way. (Laughs)

Lauren Bushnell: (Laughs)

Ben Higgins: And I quote! Okay, so, this whole -- as people watch it back, there's a lot of speculation and everything, right? So people are going to speculate if her brothers played a role in that or not. You know, it's hard to say, right? It wasn't about her brothers necessarily; It was about my relationship with JoJo and my relationship with Lauren.

I could see my life forever with Lauren, and do I wish I would've gotten a different kind of hometown visit with [JoJo]'s brothers? Yes, I do, at times. But let's be honest, this thing is crazy! You're rolling up to a house and you're inviting yourself in and they don't know you, and I get why they could be a little bit skeptical.

But all I really want and all I really ask -- and I think all JoJo can really ask from here on out -- is for people to really get to know the people involved and not necessarily look through the lens of the situation. So, did they play a role in it? I mean, family plays a big role in my life, so I'm sure they did. But also, it was about Lauren and I's relationship, and JoJo and I's relationship.

Reality TV World: Ben, when did you become confident that Leah Block's accusations against Lauren were untrue, or did you ever? And since viewers didn't see much of a connection there, were you keeping her around for something as simple as she lived in Denver like you and so a relationship with her made sense logistically?

Ben Higgins: First off, it's really odd to have somebody kind of come out of nowhere and say something about somebody that doesn't seem to be true. One of the things through this experience that I really watched was Group Dates, and on Group Dates, how did the women interact with each other? Did one person kind of seem standoffish? Did this one woman not get along with the group?

And Lauren was never standoffish. She had a lot of friends in the house, and they seemed to enjoy hanging out a lot. So when Leah said that, it was just out of nowhere. And so when something like that comes out of nowhere, I'm very skeptical. And then when there's kind of an obsession on it, I got more skeptical.

And why was Leah around? I think I was interested in what could be and what could happen, but we didn't have a great connection and there wasn't a lot of openness in our relationship. And so, I was always waiting for that. And ultimately, it came to the point where I couldn't wait any longer, especially when the idea of openness was, you know, kind of talking about somebody else in the house.

Reality TV World: Lauren, did you really patch things up with Leah like she said on The Women Tell All, and if so, how did that go down?

Lauren Bushnell: Yeah, so, after the show of course, I don't know, I feel like just with my relationship with Ben and with the friendships in the house, I just kind of tried to move forward with those relationships and kind of leave that in the past. Leah did reach out and apologize, and as hard as it is looking back, I also totally did forgive her.

It's not -- that wasn't something that I ever would hold over her head. I think people do interesting, strange things when they're in uncomfortable situations, and you know, she probably didn't handle that in the best way, but it's no reason for me to hate her or dislike her. I mean, I'm very much moved on from that situation.

Check back with Reality TV World soon for more from Lauren and Ben's post-The Bachelor interview.


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