Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell have ended their engagement and split.

Ben, 29, and Lauren, 27, have decided to break up 14 months after the former The Bachelor star's marriage proposal aired on the show's twentieth-season finale in March 2016.

"It is with heavy hearts that we announce our decision to go our separate ways," the couple told People in a Monday statement.

"We feel fortunate for the time we had together, and will remain friends with much love and respect for one another. We wish nothing but the best for each other, and ask for your support and understanding at this time."

The Denver-based reality TV couple, who also starred on Freeform's Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? in Fall 2016, sadly appeared to spend the majority of their time together either defending their romance in the press or attempting to overcome their issues behind closed doors.

As shown on their Happily Ever After? spinoff, despite attending couples' counseling, Ben called off their televised wedding because he felt overwhelmed and unprepared to take that next step in life.

A blindsided Lauren, however, was already picking out bridesmaids dresses at the time and consulting with her maid of honor about bridal shower registry items.

The couple had a tough time watching arguments and personal drama unfold on their The Bachelor spinoff as well. Ben had said in October 2016 the show's editing was not always fair or accurate.

"They just wanted different things. They had been struggling for a while... It was a mutual break up for the most part," a source close to Lauren told E! News. "I think Ben would have kept wanting to make it work, though. It's really sad. They're both such great people, honestly."

Signs have pointed to a split in recent weeks because Lauren hasn't posted anything about her fiance on social media since a family photo on Easter Sunday, April 16.

Ben, however, shared a picture of the pair one week ago, calling Lauren "a light" in the darkness. He said he was proud to have her by his side.

Reports Ben and Lauren's relationship was on the rocks circulated for months, with sources saying they didn't get along and things became very hard.

Lauren -- whom insiders claimed was unhappy living in Denver and wanted to return to Los Angeles -- added fuel to the fire earlier this year by going on a couple of trips with her sister and girlfriends -- but without Ben and her Neil Lane diamond engagement ring, according to her Instagram account.
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But the couple dismissed the plaguing rumors at every opportunity -- including Valentine's Day in February and Ben's birthday in March 2017, when both individuals publicly expressed their love for each other and Ben bashed "fake news" in the media.

And just last month, Ben gushed to People he was "very excited" about the idea of tying the knot with Lauren in the near future, insisting, "I still want to marry Lauren. Very much so. Planning a wedding is difficult, [but] we are definitely trying."

Despite putting up a united and happy front, the pair's problems began right away due to the fact Ben had confessed he was in love with both Lauren and his The Bachelor runner-up JoJo Fletcher.

"Post-filming was more of an emotional roller coaster than the actual show," Lauren had told People following the show's finale. "I fall more in love with Ben every day and it's hard to separate what happened long ago and my current feelings. It's confusing. It does wear on me... It hurts."

Ben claimed he was honest with Lauren right away about his love disclosure after they finished taping The Bachelor, but Lauren had to re-live the series of events all over again once the season aired on TV.

It also didn't help that JoJo constantly talked about the love she and Ben shared while starring on The Bachelorette in the spring and summer of 2016.

"It's like, why did I have to go through that hurt? It's already a few months of confusion and tears and then to have to deal with it again. It's hard," Lauren had vented to the magazine.

"Resentment and anger affected our relationship much longer than it should have."


About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.