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'The Bachelor' star Ben Higgins proposes to Lauren Bushnell and rejects runner-up Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher


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.

"I came into this honestly feeling unlovable... [In] a journey full of goodbyes, Lauren, I never want to say goodbye to you. I want to wake up every morning and kiss you on the face. I want to go to bed every night and know that every morning, I am going to wake up to the most beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes on. My desire from here on out is to live for you, commit to you, to love you, to hold you, to kiss you a lot. Lauren, I want to spend the rest of my life with you," Ben told Lauren with a huge smile across his face.

"Oh my God!" Lauren said as Ben knelt down.

"Lauren, will you marry me?" Ben asked.

Lauren accepted the proposal whole-heartedly with tears in her eyes and immense love in her heart.

"Yes!" she gleefully replied.

The couple embraced and kissed, and then Ben said to Lauren, "Lauren, you're my person. I love you and I'm really lucky... I love you, fiancee."

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.

The Bachelor broadcast began with Lauren saying her whole life had changed once Ben confessed his feelings of love to her. JoJo also felt secure in her relationship with Ben, saying she no longer had doubts they were "in this together." JoJo felt she knew where Ben stood and was living out a fairytale. Ben, however, could picture a life with both women and he meant it when he said, "I love you," to both of them.

Ben said in a confessional it was impossible to think about saying goodbye to one of his Final 2 bachelorettes and he feared making a mistake.

Ben then met with his parents Amy Higgins and David Higgins, admitting he fell in love with two women and also told them both how he felt. His mother looked shocked and just said, "Wow." Ben insisted once they met the two girls, they'd understand how easy it is to love them both. He said life couldn't bring him two better women. Amy found it a little disturbing but had an open mind.

Ben explained Lauren was gorgeous, sweet and loved Warsaw, IN. Lauren met Ben's parents first and knew she'd need their approval before Ben would feel comfortable proposing. David said he needed to figure out which girl was the perfect match for his son. Lauren explained to David how Ben was caring and selfless before telling Amy that she and both Ben agreed their relationship was too good to be true.

Amy asked Lauren if she picked up on the fact Ben is his own worst critic, and Lauren said "a little bit." However, she found him "seemingly perfect." Lauren asked Amy how she could be a great partner to Ben, and Ben's mom said he needs a woman who can be patient because he is intense at times and needs to be talked off the ledge. At the end of the day, Lauren assured Ben she was ready to get engaged to him and ultimately married.

Later on, JoJo met Ben's parents and felt "a lot of pressure." She was extremely nervous and stressed out. Ben told his parents there were moments with JoJo he'd never forget and it was always comforting to be around her. JoJo pointed out Ben was always hard on himself, and Amy seemed impressed she knew that. David said Lauren had set a high bar, so JoJo at least had to meet her there.

JoJo cried to David about how a day would never go by without Ben knowing she loved him, and David appreciated her emotion. JoJo then told Amy how she felt safe and protected with Ben, which is exactly what Ben had told his parents about her. Ben had told Amy and David that JoJo was always the one to bring him back to a calm, safe place. JoJo said they could have hard conversations and they'd get through hard times together.

JoJo also cried to Amy about how pure her intentions were and how much she loved Ben. Amy could tell Ben was happy and excited to see JoJo and things "felt different" than they did with Lauren. JoJo had no doubt in her mind she'd accept a proposal from Ben because she didn't want to spend a day without him. She felt "a million times for sure" of her relationship with Ben after meeting his parents.

"Either one of those ladies would be perfectly spot on," David told Ben.

After Ben agreed with his father that Lauren and JoJo were "sort of the same," Amy said she "personally" thought they were different. David called Lauren "polished," but said JoJo answered his questions before he even asked them. JoJo viewed Ben more like a best friend.

"Everything about both of them was so wonderful. You decide to propose to one of them, there's going to be that moment where I sit back and be disappointed," Amy said, adding that Ben's "huge" decision scared her because he still didn't know whom to pick.

Ben didn't get the clarity he needed from his parents. His heart and mind were both split, and the Bachelor was more confused than ever.

Ben then had his last one-on-one date with Lauren. She was filled with happiness, joy, gratitude and excitement. The couple went sailing on a catamaran, but Lauren could tell something was heavily weighing on Ben's mind, which made her nervous. Ben told Lauren everything had been perfect between them from the start, and because it seemed too good to be true, he was nervous.

Ben didn't know what it would be like with Lauren when times got rough because she was always so elegant and put together, which his parents also observed. They hadn't been tested yet, while Ben overcame adversity with JoJo on the show this season. Ben questioned if things had been "too easy" with Lauren.

Lauren was scared but always felt at peace in Ben's presence. That night, the couple spent their final night together before the season's last Rose Ceremony. Ben said Lauren showed him support throughout the whole journey and trusted him through it all. Lauren said she had never been more sure about anything in her life as she was about spending forever with Ben.

Ben told Lauren that no matter what happened, she made him a better person. She cried in his arms and shed more tears in a confessional after he left, revealing how she couldn't picture life without Ben going forward -- she needed him and was terrified of losing him. Lauren worried Ben was also in love with JoJo.

The following day, Ben enjoyed his last date with JoJo. Ben began comparing the two relationships, explaining his relationship with JoJo took longer to develop, as Lauren captured his heart on Day 1. The pair took a little ride and swam in a romantic lagoon together.

"My feelings for JoJo are very similar to my feelings for Lauren, and it's not that Lauren has taken a step back. It's just JoJo has caught up," Ben told the cameras, adding that he was going to continue praying for clarity and hopefully one more date with JoJo would give him that.

"I am confident that I'm going to be Ben's wife and I'm the happiest I've ever been," JoJo said in a confessional.

JoJo said her relationship with Ben was the best she's ever been in and he felt like her best friend. She felt their dynamic was just "right" and "natural." Joelle told the Bachelor she was willing to do whatever it takes to make things work after the show -- when he goes back to Denver and she's living in Dallas. She had so much faith in them as a couple but could tell Ben was off.

JoJo asked Ben what was wrong, and he admitted he was confused with Lauren still in the picture, and while he loved her, his mind was in 1,000 different places. JoJo thought they were on the same page, but now she understood he didn't even know which girl he planned to propose to. She didn't know why he was so confused and what he was so torn about. JoJo didn't want to end up "looking like a fool."

That night, JoJo said in a confessional she had never been more scared. She thought she was going to be the one at the end with him, but Ben was torn between two women and so JoJo got bogged down in concerns she had previously rid herself of. JoJo thought what they had was perfect and didn't know how another relationship could top what they had. She needed some validation that Ben wanted her. JoJo told Ben never to censor himself around her.

"What I'm feeling for you is deeper than anything I've ever felt," Ben told JoJo. "If I'm going to make that commitment at the end, you wouldn't ever have anything to worry about... Somehow in two months, you've become my best friend, not only as a friend but also the passion and intimacy between us."

Ben told JoJo he had no concerns or doubts about her, but he almost wished something was wrong or missing in their relationship or his with Lauren. JoJo could tell that Ben was doing everything he could to make her feel like she was "the one," but she was hoping for more of a sign and she didn't receive it. JoJo took Ben into a bathroom and said she needed something from him because she was "losing [her] mind."

"You love her too. Am I right?" JoJo asked Ben behind closed doors.

"Yes," Ben replied.

"And you said that to her?" JoJo questioned.

"Yes," Ben said. "Do you not want me to tell you this?"

"No, I do. I just feel foolish," JoJo noted with a heavy heart. "I feel like when I think about you, it's something so special... I just want it to be me and you. I don't want to compete with other people. I'm so tired of competing, you know?"

JoJo started bawling in the bathroom and walked away knowing Ben was in love with two people at the same time. She thought the "I love you" was something so special to her, but she was a little hurt and upset he said it to someone else. JoJo felt a little naive, but at the same time, appreciated Ben's openness and honesty.

JoJo didn't understand how a man could say he can't envision life without her while being unsure he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. She said Ben was "the one" for her, and she could only hope to receive that strong of love in return. Ben felt awful and never wanted a woman he loved to feel empty, alone or fearful.

"I'm a lost man right now. Emotionally I'm lost. In terms of what to do, I'm lost," Ben confessed.

The next morning, Ben woke up just as confused and conflicted as he had ever been. He said it was going to be the biggest day of his life because he intended to propose. However, when Ben met with Neil Lane to select an engagement ring, he hesitated when the jeweler asked him to describe his lucky lady.

In a voiceover, Ben explained he had real, raw moments with JoJo that didn't exist with Lauren, however, he wasn't questioning whether his love for Lauren was real -- they just never went through tough times together.

"If I'm going to be honest with myself, looking down at the ring, I know who I'm going to propose to," Ben admitted. "I am really, fully in love with one of these women... I've never broken up with somebody I've loved. It's really terrible. But I know what I have to do."

On the day of the proposal, both Lauren and JoJo were scared out of their minds. Lauren knew there was a possibility Ben loved JoJo as well, and JoJo insisted she'd probably be able to read Ben's face in the first moment of seeing him. Ben felt physically and emotionally sick about breaking someone's heart.

"Even though I'm in love with this woman, I just can't picture life without the other. I told this woman I love her, and I do, but I love somebody more," Ben said as JoJo stepped out of a helicopter and walked towards him.

JoJo couldn't wait to hear that Ben believed in their love and wanted to start a life with her. She finally had a love other people would be envious of. JoJo hoped the day would end with a ring on her finger.

JoJo walked up to Ben and the couple held hands. She gave a beautiful little speech about taking a chance on love. She struggled this whole process but knew love wasn't supposed to be easy, however, it would be worth it and he was worth it. JoJo said she loved him with all of her heart and would never run from what they had.

"I came into this not knowing if I was going to find love," Ben told JoJo. "I didn't know if this would be real, if this would be hard, or if we could just kind of go through it and take helicopter rides. But with you, it was real. Always. I didn't know if I could find love. I found it with you, but I found it with somebody else more, and I don't want to let go because..."

"Oh my God," JoJo said as she looked away in shock.

"I don't want to say goodbye. Even on a day like today, I still don't question that I love you. But you asked me to be honest and I tried to be," Ben explained.

"It's fine. I don't even know what to say right now. I'm so confused and blindsided... Where did it go wrong?" JoJo asked.

"It never did," Ben insisted. "JoJo, I..."

"It's okay. It's fine," she said.

Ben walked her out and she started crying. JoJo said she put her heart out there on the line so far for him and he shouldn't have said he was in love with her. Ben said his feelings never changed but he couldn't explain it so that it would make sense. He hugged her goodbye, and after she gained her composure, JoJo gave him a pat on the chest and said, "I'm happy for you." Ben noted JoJo didn't deserve to be in pain and he didn't even deserve her in general.

"I feel so confused. I feel speechless. I walked into today thinking that it could be the happiest day of my life. I never thought this would happen. He said he would never blindside me, but I feel pretty blindsided right now. I wish I could hate him or be really mad at him, but I can't. I was getting my heart broken, but I still didn't want to see him cry. I just want the kind of love I can count on -- that when someone says he loves me, he really means it and he's not going anywhere. This sucks," JoJo cried in her final words.

Ben loved Lauren so much that saying goodbye to JoJo "had to happen." He loved Lauren with all his heart and it was a love he couldn't lose. Ben then called Lauren's father Dave Bushnell to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. Ben said he wanted to make Lauren the happiest woman in the world forever, and Dave was thrilled, offering Ben his blessing to propose. Ben had tears in his eyes and cheered with excitement.

"I feel I am my best with Ben... and I have no doubt Ben loves me. But there is another person on the other side of this, and I just don't know what they have," Lauren told the cameras as she approached Ben. "I want to hear Ben tell me he loves me, not just one more time, but for the rest of my life... Today will be the best day of my life or the worst day."

Lauren then walked right up to Ben as he stood beneath a palm tree along the shoreline in Jamaica, and she spilled her heart and soul to him. Lauren told Ben she trusted him completely and her first kiss with him was the last first kiss she ever wanted to have. She never knew a love like that ever existed, and he was the person she wanted to spend her whole life with.

"I love you. I love you!" Lauren said before bracing herself for Ben's news.

After Ben popped the question and Lauren accepted, the Bachelor carried her into the helicopter and they took off, flying to new heights together.

During the After the Final Rose special, JoJo revealed watching the season back was very cathartic for her because she saw his connection with Lauren. There was a very different way Ben looked at Lauren than he looked at her, and she's happy for both the Bachelor and his fiancee. JoJo said she'll always have a special place in her heart for Ben but she's moved on in a sense. JoJo was also named Season 12's The Bachelorette star.

In addition, Lauren and Ben are still together, happy and more in love with each other than they were on the day of their engagement. Ben was upfront and honest with her about being in love with another woman on the show, and while Lauren was surprised, she wasn't at the same time. Lauren has seemingly handled everything very well.

On the subject of a wedding, Lauren said she doesn't want a long engagement but it would also be nice to date for a little bit in the real world. Ben couldn't wait to show Lauren off. Although Chris Harrison tried to get Ben and Lauren to marry on the spot yet failed, Ben proposed to his fiancee again onstage in front of their family and friends.

Ben promised his wedding will be happening "very soon."



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