Jenna Burke: I totally ruined my chances with Bachelor Ben Flajnik
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/12/2012
Jenna Burke was one of two bachelorettes The Bachelor star Ben Flajnik eliminated during Monday night's second episode of the ABC reality dating series' sixteenth season.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, the 27-year-old blogger from New York City, NY, talked to Reality TV World about her The Bachelor experience -- including why she believes she was eliminated so early on in the competition and why she got so emotional following her ouster.
Reality TV World: It was clear you got very emotional at both cocktail parties and were involved in some drama with Monica early on. So why do you ultimately think you got eliminated? Do you think he just didn't appreciate all the drama or didn't get to know you well enough and feel you two had a connection?
Jenna Burke: I think that every Bachelor, as you can see in past seasons, I think men just do not like drama and they don't understand it and they just don't get women on this level.
That's why all of us get along and we understand each other and we're all dramatic, but you know, I had a lot of drama the first night and I was so happy that he gave me a second chance and we did have a really good first conversation that was not shown.
I think that you saw something between us, but he was unsure, and I think that's why I was put on the group date. We didn't get much time because I'm just not the aggressive kind. It's really hard to fight for just one man's attention.
It was just kind of awkward for me, and you know, just things that were happening. It was a lot of pressure and it was like one conversation was the very last one. I was almost at the point where I almost burnt down all of Sonoma with that blanket I dropped on the fire, which was a mistake.
It was like I knew I only had two minutes to say something, like it was going to be the make or break, and I totally ruined it. I knew at that point it was like, "There's just nothing going on here." If anything, I wish I had more time. But then again, I say I wasn't in a good place in my life. So, it would have happened sooner or later.
Reality TV World: You really broke down and cried after you exited the mansion following your elimination, saying you were "mortified." Why do you think you got so emotional? Was it because you were really interested in Ben or were you just overwhelmed by the cameras or embarrassed the journey had ended so soon for you?
Jenna Burke: I mean, all of the above. I guess after -- a couple girls, I just don't know if they were there for the right reasons and it really upset me that he wasn't able to see through that. I got emotional because I didn't want to be emotional, if that makes any sense.
I wish that -- I knew I was going through a hard time, because when you talk about love nonstop 24/7, it's not really normal. I don't talk about my past relationships everyday. I don't talk about what I want in a relationship.
It kind of makes you a little bit nervous and I started thinking of this as one big therapy session and I kind of broke down. And that's how I kind of look at it. I got a lot out and what was captured was me just upset about the whole experience ending so soon.
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But like I said before, I was not ready and because of the show, timing is everything. I need to be ready to put yourself out there, let love back in, and I think I was carrying some past pain with me.
Reality TV World: You mentioned some girls upset you because you didn't know if they were there for the right reasons. Do you mind mentioning who you were talking about in particular?
Jenna Burke: I just really feel like I didn't know what Courtney's intentions were. She kind of kept to herself, but I know people have their "strategies" and some people aren't there to make friends. I get that. But it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.
Although I got to know Blakeley really well, I felt like at that second Rose Ceremony, I did not think that was right for her to go out there and steal all of Ben's time when there's girls that haven't even talked to him -- haven't had any time.
I think that she's just that type and there's just a lot going on. It's a lot for one night, and I feel like just sitting around waiting for an elimination builds up the pressure and the anxiety.
Also during the call, Jenna told reporters how going through a breakup before appearing on The Bachelor negatively affected her ability to open up to love and truly be herself, how she would describe the "real Jenna" despite her portrayal on the show, who she thought would eventually steal Ben's heart, and what her opinions were of the controversial and possibly misunderstood bachelorettes Courtney Robertson and Blakeley Shea.
What were The Bachelor viewers not shown during the first two episodes that might have better explained who you are and what your personality is like?
Jenna Burke: I mean, I don't think anyone can anticipate what kind of experience this is going to be until you really get there, and I've never been through anything like this in my life. I think people sign up because they're ready to find love and unfortunately, there was a lot going on in my life at the time and it was perfect timing.
I was actually changing my career, so I had time for that. I was actually getting over a breakup. I really wanted to move forward, and then I also had all my things in storage. So, I was ready for a life change. So I was like, "This is perfect. I just really want to do this for the experience to see if I can actually find love."
And as I got there, it just -- it was more intense than I ever anticipated and I really went there with the mentality of, "If Ben dumps me, then at least I'll make great friends." I've watched every season. I'm a big fan of The Bachelor, and you know, I've seen great friendships form from this and unfortunately, some people had their game face on.
I'm not the aggressive type and I think to succeed on this show, you have to fight for Ben's attention. That's something -- I'm fine approaching men, but in this kind of circumstance, it was very difficult for me. And when you take all your distractions away like your friends and family and time alone, you start to feel in a very odd situation. I realized I wasn't really at a strong point.
I think when talking about love and relationships and what you hope to find, you talk about that nonstop, and it's almost like one big therapy session. I didn't realize that I was carrying pain from my past. I thought I had moved on and wanted to move on.
Because of your breakup, do you think if you had been on a later season of The Bachelor you would have been less emotional?
Jenna Burke: Absolutely. I think everything had to do with -- it was a pretty bad breakup on my part and it was hard. I just think you need to be at the right spot and this is a very intense show, and I think that you need to really be at a very strong point in your life and feel comfortable with where you are in your life, because that's like the only way to succeed.
Because if you have feeling of being scared or you don't feel -- I feel like with the whole breakup, if you have a fear of being rejected, you're more vulnerable and you don't really have that confidence. I usually have confidence, but after a breakup, it does break down your confidence a bit.
Did you feel like viewers got a different perception of you by watching the show than what you're really like?
Jenna Burke: Absolutely. I mean, just watching the episodes, I'm in a much better place and luckily, I'm very happy that I was able to watch it and laugh at myself and some of the awkward moments. When you're fighting for one person's attention, you want to say so much, and I think that I wanted to say so much and time was of the essence. When I tried to say something, it just all came out like blah.
But just watching it, I just wanted to shake myself and be like, "Get a grip." I can look back at those moments and laugh. I just think I'm in a much stronger place in my life and it's really important that people go on that and realize that you need to be in a good place in your life to find love again. Every person in a relationship, if they go through a hard breakup, they want to move on.
I really wanted to move on, and you don't realize how you're going to react until you actually experience it. And unfortunately, I didn't really act the way I wanted to, but you can't help your emotions. My emotions and nerves got the best of me.
Did it surprise you that the bachelorettes would do whatever they wanted with Ben no matter who was watching?
Jenna Burke: Yeah, I mean, I think that's part of -- as you watch everyone, that's kind of where you start to lose your confidence. You see the more aggressive ones and it seems to me like Ben likes that kind of person.
That's how you really get the time and I'm just not like that, and watching other people -- it caught me off-guard about [Monica Spannbauer]'s comment about how she didn't like Ben or didn't know Ben, which is fine, you know?
But we all knew who the Bachelor was and me and Monica actually made up. She's a great girl. It was just a rocky start and it's just a lot of people react differently. I think we all have our own insecurities and I definitely cry and other girls come off more aggressive.
They know what they want and they won't stop until they get it, and I don't know. I think that's how they play the game. Everyone always talks about strategy and I had no strategy. I'm like, "Am I supposed to have one? I really don't..."
I thought it was just about finding a connection. I just didn't have -- the timing was off for me emotionally and the timing was off for me and Ben's actual connection. You could see there were very awkward moments with us. But I can laugh about it.
When did you and Monica actually reconcile? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Jenna Burke: I didn't understand her personality and like I said, my mentality going in was if I got dumped by Ben, I would have great friendships formed from this experience. I wanted a positive, if anything. I mean, even in real life, not everyone is going to love you and that's something -- that was a life lesson that I learned right there.
But something rubbed me the wrong way that night and I didn't understand. I didn't understand where she was coming from because I overheard her saying things and I wanted to confront her, and it was a very awkward, awkward moment because she wasn't really saying how she was feeling and I knew how she was feeling.
You know, the next day, I was like, "You know, I don't want to feel any more uncomfortable than I already do." So I approached her and I talked to her, and she was like a totally different person. I said how I felt and it was like the real Jenna got to know the real Monica and the real Monica got to know the real Jenna.
We actually ended up being in the same group for the play that we put on and I had a blast with her that day. She's a great person. I think we just had bad first impressions for each of us, but we had a great time together and we really got to know a lot about each other.
Do you feel okay about your elimination at this point? Do you understand why Ben sent you home?
Jenna Burke: I mean, I would have sent myself home, to be honest. It was just one thing after the next and you know, it doesn't really build your confidence. I have to admit, going on the group date, you kind of wonder like, "Are these the women that he put together because he's unsure of them?" There's no rules and I don't know, but that's kind of how I felt.
Only two girls got the one-on-one date the first night and so, it just doesn't really make you feel that good and you don't really get a lot of time to talk to him. I knew my last conversation with him was like the make or break because we didn't have any time and I'm not the kind of girl to be like, "Excuse me, can I snatch Ben away from you?"
I was like, "If he wants to talk to me, he will." And I waited and it was kind of sort of at the end of the night. During that whole time, you sort of feel rejected and you can't help it. I'm human. I have feelings too and I want him to like me and get to know me, but unfortunately, I think that men do not like drama. I showed that side of me, so he was already unsure.
It was a lot of pressure. I don't know how, in one conversation, I'm supposed to make a huge comeback. I wanted to say so much but it came out so awkward. I mean, it wasn't even what I wanted to say and it was just too much pressure. And all of a sudden, [Jaclyn Swartz] came up and it was like, "Bam! Done." Then I just felt like, "This might be my last night."
What were your thoughts on Courtney and Blakeley? Do you think Ben will end up choosing one of them?
Jenna Burke: Alright, so, I'll start with Blakeley. I have known girls like Blakeley and I had some -- I had a lot of time with Blakeley and my first impression of her -- aggressive. She doesn't want to be friends with anybody except Monica. I didn't like how they were just together and didn't really talk to anybody else. So, my first impression was a little weird.
But we got in the house and I think they realized they need to break up a little bit because they're kind of being pinpointed in the wrong way, so as we talked, I got to know her more. The girl does have a heart. She's not -- but like I said before in my other question, I think we all have insecurities and the way Blakeley dealt with her insecurities is that she's more aggressive.
I can tell why girls are not fond of that, especially in this whole situation. And you can see, she can only stay strong for so long and hears what people are doing. When she turns around, people disperse. It actually got to her and she comes off as being very strong, but I mean, there's another side to Blakeley.
Courtney, I only probably had one conversation with her and I didn't really get -- I just know she's a model from Santa Monica and she plays with her hair a lot. But I, you know, after watching the show, I think she's got a serious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
What did you learn you want in a relationship from being on the show and are you ready to date again?
Jenna Burke: I'm not dating. I'm actually focusing on myself. I think that when you build a stronger relationship with yourself, everything falls into place, and that's what I'm doing right now. I feel like I'm just so much happier than I was when I went on the show and I learned a lot. I learned that -- I think building a relationship takes time. It really does.
It's unfortunate Ben did not get to see the real Jenna and I think he's a great guy. I have nothing bad to say to him. He did juggle a lot of women and it's hard, but the aggressive ones get in there and I feel like in real life, I'm more of the one that needs more time, I guess, to build a strong relationship.
I don't think after one date I could say that I could marry this guy. It could take several, several date. So, I've learned a lot about myself and I think that I was carrying some extra baggage and my breakup was hard and I moved past it. I'm fine with showing people my vulnerable side because that's real life. I'm human; I have emotions. I had a breakdown.
I know we all have had them and we all have our insecurities, and unfortunately, it's how it happened. Eventually I do want to find somebody. I genuinely went on the show wanting to find love and share my life with somebody. I really don't have a mean bone in my body and I wanted to make friends with everybody, but some people had their game faces on. It's just the name of the game.
While you were on the show, which bachelorettes did you think would be good for Ben or considered frontrunners?
Jenna Burke: Frontrunners happened to be my close friends on the show. I think [Kacie Boguskie], [Lindzi Cox] and [Nicki Sterling]. I feel like all of them are in good places in their lives, and I think when I got to talk to them and really get to know them, they're in really happy places and they were ready for this experience.
I just think they are genuinely nice people and I don't know. There's just something about them. I really connected with them and I just -- I think I was watching the show and I was like, "I wish I was at their place so I could have had the same experience."
You mentioned the "real Jenna" wasn't portrayed during the show. Had viewers gotten to know the real you, what would they have seen?
Jenna Burke: I would have added a lot of humor because I love being funny and I love guys that have a sense of humor. I know Ben appreciates a sense of humor and having fun and kind of goofing off and kind of having like a couple that plays together stays together. I'm always with those kinds of guys and I think likes those kinds of girls.
If I was in a happier place, I wouldn't have taken myself so seriously. I wouldn't have really thought about -- I don't think I would have brought my past in with me and I wouldn't have let the other girls get to me.
It was just a lot of pressure and I think I had a very big fear of rejection. I think you really have to go in there positive and obviously if you're in a better place, you have more self confidence, more self-esteem and you actually believe in yourself. But you know, unfortunately, I guess I was lacking in those areas because I had a pretty tough breakup.
But just like in real life, everyone wants to move forward after a breakup. They want to find something else. They want to date again and my next step wasThe Bachelor and millions of viewers saw that I was not ready for this. And that's not me. Those are moments and I'm fine with showing that, but there is a very different side of Jenna.
You were only in the house a few days, but were you starting to develop any feelings for Ben?
Jenna Burke: You know, I remember -- I always thought he was cute. I watched The Bachelorette with [Ashley Hebert], and I always thought he stood out. There's something about him. He's not your typical Bachelor. He's more my type and I liked his style and everything. I feel like when we put on the play, there were moments that we kept looking at each other and I remember thinking, "It keeps happening."
It probably kept happening with other girls I'm sure because that's what goes down. But I remember making eye contact with him and feeling like I actually had butterflies in my stomach. I was just excited to get to know him and I really wanted some more one-on-one time, but I just didn't really get much of a chance.
Was it just the breakup you experienced before going on the show that had made you so emotional throughout the competition?
Jenna Burke: No, I'm not blaming just my previous breakup. I think it's a combination of things and my mind was just all over the place. It's hard to imagine putting yourself out there in front of millions of viewers, but eventually, I sort of thought the cameras were not there and I started freaking out about the whole situation.
I started playing out how all of this could go about and he could break my heart again. I didn't know if I had the ability to get over another heartbreak. It was actually a more intense environment than I ever anticipated.
Do you think Courtney is on the show for the right reasons and why do you think some people consider her a frontrunner?
Jenna Burke: I watched the second episode and you definitely can tell Ben was smiling inside and out and he kept repeating, "This is too good to be true." You could just tell he was beaming inside and there was something about it.
I think their date went really well. I did not like how when she got back to the house -- like I said before, it was a serious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. "Courtney No. 2" came out and I'm like, "Who are you?" Give me one Courtney please because I can't follow, and so that kind of scares me. I'm not going to lie.
How did you think Ben handled you and the situations of your emotional breakdowns? Do you think he handled them well?
Jenna Burke: I think Ben is a great guy and it's tough to be in that situation with all these women vying for your attention. So, I give him props because he maintained his sanity and just went with the flow and it seemed like he had fun with it. I really was glad he gave me a second chance and I think he's right that the first night is the most intense night.
People get the jitters and I swear people just have freak out moments like, "I can't believe this is happening. I'm really here. Everything happened so fast." Girls are stealing him away in front of your face. It's just a lot of pressure and sometimes I felt like maybe I didn't fit in with that.
We had a good first talk and the second talk was kind of awkward. I can laugh at it now. But the second time, because of the group date, he was going around hanging out with everyone and we would just say a couple things here or there. But we really couldn't really get to know each other. And so, at that moment, I thought our last conversation was really tough for me.
I can't just have someone sit there and stare at me and just be like, "Alright Jenna, this is when you need to shine." I just wish he would have helped me feel more at ease and said something like a little bit more comforting. I don't know. I just felt like I was put on the spotlight and it was like, "Alright. Here's where you really need to make or break," and I think I broke it.
I wish he would have -- I think for a relationship to grow further, there needs to be a balance. If someone needs to open up, then that person will open up a little bit and then it just goes back and forth and back and forth. I don't feel comfortable just throwing my whole personal life out there. It needs to be a healthy balance and I just didn't think that was me and Ben at the time.
Time is of the essence, and that last talk, that was my most nervous. I obviously made no sense. I was like, "Jenna..." I really wanted to shake myself and be like, "Make sense. You actually are a writer. You need to put your words together." But I wanted to say so much and it was so unfortunate that it didn't come out the right way. It came out like in a second language.
Did drinking play a role in your behavior at all or was it just all raw emotion?
Jenna Burke: I mean, at this point, I was emotionally drained. I was really sensitive and my nerves got the absolute best of me. I was really breaking down. I was emotionally drained...
No, I mean, I had like a couple drinks, but honestly, it was more just talking about this all day long and realizing that maybe I'm not cut out for this -- just really upset and hurt that I wasn't given more of an opportunity or more of a chance, because I really thought that me and Ben could have gotten along well.
And who knows if we would have met outside of this whole situation if we would have reacted differently, but you know, that was my time.
Do you think Ben could have done anything differently to improve his situation as the Bachelor?
Jenna Burke: I think Ben wanted someone to open up right away. I was lucky I got a second chance, but I wasn't able to open up fast enough for him. I really wish he would have opened up a little bit more to me. Even though I watched the last season, I think he still has to open up to people.
I mean, he definitely opened up to Kacie B., but he got a one-on-one. I mean, I think if I would have gotten a one-on-one, all things could have been different. But then again, I was not at a very strong point in my life. So, maybe the same thing would have happened.
What are you doing now professionally?
Jenna Burke: Now, I'm actually getting into writing and I also have a blog called "The Overanalyst," which is a perfect title for me, I must say. I think I overanalyzed everything, but I mean, there's a healthy way to overanalyze things and usually, I do. But I'm not a self-proclaimed relationship expert like everyone keeps saying.
I don't think I would be on a show if I was some relationship expert. I'd be guiding people on that show and I was not guiding, for sure. So, I love talking about love. I love talking about fashion.
I love talking about anything that inspires me and I went on that show for the right reasons, and you could see I was tremendously hurt by an unfortunate situation at how it all went down. I was truly upset because I really wanted to get to know Ben and I had my chance, and I somewhat blew it.