Sydney, a 28-year-old vintage store owner who currently resides in Rhode Island, was shown accusing Maria of being a "bully" and a catty "mean girl" on The Bachelor's latest episode. She was also shown alleging that Maria had manipulated the other women as well as Joey.
But according to a fan-favorite Bachelor Nation member, Ashley, viewers shouldn't jump to conclusions.
Ashley took to Instagram Stories after Monday night's The Bachelor episode and posted a photo with Sydney as well as fellow The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise alum Jill Chin.
The girls were enjoying cocktails at Giusto restaurant in Newport, RI, and Ashley wrote, "Please be kind to our friend [Sydney]. Sometimes you just have to have been there to understand why people made the moves they did."
The three women were smiling big, and Sydney shared the post to her Instagram Stories.
While Jill didn't upload the image to her own Instagram account, Ashley's use of the words "our friend" would appear to indicate that Jill agrees with Ashley's message to The Bachelor fans.
Ashley, who also lives in Rhode Island and is married to her Bachelor in Paradise love Jared Haibon, is friends with Sydney and has shopped in Sydney's 70s-style vintage thrift store called Folk Vintage in Newport.
Jill also revealed during a January episode of the "Reality Steve Podcast" that she's friends with Sydney. Jill apparently met Sydney through Ashley I.
On last week's episode of The Bachelor, Sydney brought the drama when she and Maria clashed over a comment Maria had made about Madina Alam being one of the older bachelorettes in the cast.
Maria's comments were intended to be supportive or comforting, not malicious. But Sydney misunderstood Maria's motive and talked about her behind her back.
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On the show's latest February 5 episode, Madina shared with Joey of her side of the story, "Some girls were saying, 'She's not even that old,' which felt very invalidating. And then yesterday, one of the girls came up to me and was mad that I wouldn't tell her who told me that she said the comment."
Madina didn't drop Maria's name, but she continued, "If I have to describe it, I felt like I was being bullied. 'Tell me who it is. Tell me who it is.' And I kept saying, 'Can we please just move past it? That's not why we're here.'"
Madina subsequently admitted to Maria that she had thrown her under the bus, and Maria was shocked by the use of the word "bully" since she claimed she had just been trying to clear her name.
"I also felt bullied as well," Sydney declared.
Maria asked for specific examples, and Sydney simply said that Maria had "talked sh-t" about her friend.
"Sydney, Missy Troublemaker, needs to stop!... You're making things worse. Just stop," Maria announced.
"I don't want to be friends with somebody like that -- a catty person," Sydney clapped back, adding how she felt "attacked" and was going to remove herself from the "negative environment."
Allison Hollinger, however, claimed Maria was just "bold" and being herself, adding how some women didn't know how to take that. Edwina Dorbor also insisted Maria, although very "straightforward" with people, wasn't a bully at all and that Sydney was "blowing things out of proportion."
At the pool party that preceded the third Rose Ceremony of The Bachelor season, Sydney pulled Joey aside for a chat and identified Maria as the "bully" Madina had been referring to.
Sydney also revealed, "She attacked me and I sat there and maintained my composure. She called me embarrassing, weird and dumb. I ended up walking away. I just couldn't be in that hostile environment."
The Bachelor star didn't like hearing those "alarming" accusations about Maria, with whom he felt "great chemistry," and so he confronted the brunette beauty about what he had just heard.
Maria explained to Joey that she had been bullied in the past and her behavior in the house certainly wasn't an example of that. Maria started to cry and insisted she'd never treat another woman that way.
"I feel like I'm not being received as good as I thought I would be here," Maria shared.
"I thought the least of my problems would be the girls in the house, and so I really want to work on our connection. I just know that word [bully] is something I'd never throw around -- ever."
The Bachelor star could see that Maria was surprised and hurt, and so her reaction confused him even more.
"Sydney, if you like her, there's no way you can like me because we are completely different people," Maria told Joey. "I think Sydney is giving these accusations without any explanation as to why she's feeling that way."
"You're right. I probably should've asked her more questions," Joey replied.
Joey shared in a confessional how the way Maria was talking to him "felt more real" than the way Sydney had been talking to him. The Bachelor star admitted he felt "distraught" because he liked both women, who were apparently total opposites.
"I'm not that person. It would suck to be sent home tonight because of Sydney," Maria lamented in a confessional.
Sydney and Maria each received a rose at the Rose Ceremony, and a preview for the next The Bachelor episode shows the women on a tense two-on-one date with Joey.