Former The Bachelor star Ben Higgins is thrilled to finally have a girlfriend a year-and-a-half after his split from ex-fiancee Lauren Bushnell, and he didn't need Chris Harrison's help to find her.

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"I have a girlfriend, and we are in a committed, exclusive relationship," Ben told Entertainment Tonight. "It's really exciting, and there's a ton of peace behind it."

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The Season 20 The Bachelor star introduced Jessica Clarke, a 23-year-old Nashville resident and recent University of Mississippi graduate who reportedly sells LED lighting for a living, to the world on Wednesday, when the cute couple also went Instagram official.

This marks the Generous Coffee co-founder's first public relationship since his engagement to Lauren, which aired on The Bachelor finale in 2016.

Ben and Lauren broke up in May 2017, and he only entered one brief and private relationship before meeting Jessica, according to ET.

"There is something about [saying I'm in a relationship] that's not easy," Ben admitted.

"I'm realizing how much of my identity was being single... I've been in one place for so long now, and had to accept that one status, that it's exciting and I know it's the right thing, but it's also abnormal and unfamiliar for me to say out loud that I'm in a committed relationship."

Ben confessed he's "a little concerned" about this drastic identity shift and change in his lifestyle.

"That feels weird. But I'm ready for it, I'm excited about it and I wouldn't do it with just anybody," Ben said.

Ben then revealed what makes Jessica so special and why he feels comfortable dating her in the spotlight.

"Jessica kind of came inside this whole thing and said, 'I get your struggles, and I just like you for who you are,'" Ben explained.

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"With the right person this does feel great, exciting, peaceful. And I know that I'm not super messed up! Somebody actually likes me!"

Ben told ET that Jessica -- whom he's been dating for a few months now -- is an "incredible person" who boasts all the qualities he's looking for in a partner, and maybe even his future wife.

Ben said he first saw Jessica by stumbling across her Instagram profile when looking for posts about a Nashville hockey game. Ben acknowledged he was taken with her beauty and decided to direct message her around the time of Thanksgiving 2018.

Jessica reportedly answered Ben's message, and then three weeks later, Ben flew her to Denver, CO, so they could meet face-to-face.

"She showed up the same weekend a restaurant I'm involved with, Ashkara, opened, so it was an exciting time. The next day she also went with me to an event I'd already committed to," Ben revealed.

"Since the beginning, she's been really understanding, and focused on whatever time we can get together. For me, that weekend, seeing her, I felt like we'd known each other and been around each other many times before. There was a comfort."

Ben told ET he's been enjoying all the perks of a new romance.

"It's been incredible to, at the end of the day, have somebody to talk to without fear of judgment, getting yelled at or criticized," Ben shared.

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"Just somebody to talk to who enjoys you, appreciates you and tells you that and shows you that. It's nice to have a partner who thinks I'm awesome. I like being with somebody who thinks I'm pretty great!"

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Ben and Jessica are making a long-distance relationship work by FaceTiming often and utilizing good communication skills.

"She'll watch The Bachelor more now because of what I do, but she doesn't show any interest in talking about it. It comes up never," Ben disclosed, adding that Jessica has not watched his own season of the show.

Jessica's mother, however, reportedly tuned in to Ben's season and the family approves of the relationship. Ben told ET that he and Jessica have also met each other's parents.

Ben said "it feels nice" to date someone who isn't famous.

"It feels different," he continued, "but no matter what I hope the foundation is the same in any relationship I'm in: one of trust, empathy, encouragement and understanding. Jessica doesn't have a public persona, or a massive following, and she doesn't really, I don't think, have any desire to. And I'm okay with that."

Ben, however, had to warn his girlfriend people will still look at her social media profiles and judge her.

"There's a confidence in where this is going. I want the people who've followed along since the beginning to know that I'm happy, things are good, and that I'm in a committed relationship that I'm pursuing the best way I know how," Ben explained.

"And, I think it would be unfair to hide it, and I don't want to hide it."

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According to Ben, he and Jessica haven't said "I love you" to each other yet but feelings are real and they're on the same page about what they want in the future.

Although both Ben and Jessica have marriage and children as top priorities in life, Ben noted their relationship is still "brand new" and so they are taking their time.

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"Every time I'm with her and around her, it builds... every time I'm with her I want to see her again. I have a feeling that once she's around my family, my friends... I can only imagine my feelings will increase," Ben insisted.

Ben is clearly smitten with Jessica, but he's not treating this as a race -- especially since the journey to his first engagement was accelerated.

"The way I've done this in the past is pretty aggressive. It's quick! I don't want to rush anything again, but I also don't want to waste time. I'm not getting any younger here! I'm turning 30 next month, which is wild, and not okay!" Ben told ET.

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Jessica will soon be appearing on Ben's podcast with Ashley Iaconetti and the couple will publicly discuss their relationship for the first time together on The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast.

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