Jennifer Fritsch: Bachelor Ben Flajnik is no longer perfect in my eyes
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/02/2012
Jennifer Fritsch was the only bachelorette eliminated during the Rose Ceremony by The Bachelor star Ben Flajnik during Monday night's fifth episode of the ABC reality dating series' sixteenth season.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Jennifer, a 28-year-old accountant from Oklahoma City, OK, talked to Reality TV World about her The Bachelor experience -- including whether she was in love with Ben and if she felt he reciprocated those feelings at any point, why she no longer believes Ben is "perfect" as she had described him during her time on the show, and what she believed would have made Courtney Robertson's decision to skinny dip with Ben more appropriate.
Below is the first portion of Jennifer's interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the second half.
Reality TV World: Looking back, how strong would you say your connection with Ben really was? Would you say you were falling in love with him or actually did fall in love with him? And to what extent did you think Ben reciprocated those feelings towards you before you surprisingly got eliminated?
Jennifer Fritsch: I definitely think I was on the track to falling in love with him. I wasn't in love with him by any means at that point, but I did have a really strong connection and I felt strongly for him. Coming off of my date, I thought he felt the same and had no questions of it.
Definitely in Puerto Rico, going on the group date, I knew -- not winning the baseball game -- that I would have to fight for time, kind of, at the cocktail party. And after we talked, I just -- I almost felt like he reassured me of his feelings. I mean, not that he exactly said that, but just in our conversation and how it easy it was to have a conversation with him.
Reality TV World: Could you elaborate a little on what Ben told you during that conversation? Was there anything else that viewers didn't get to see before the Rose Ceremony when he decided to send you home? Did you notice anything being a little off about him during that conversation or no?
Jennifer Fritsch: (Laughs) There was nothing off. That's why it's just such a shocker for me to look back on it, because everything was right. It seemed like the conversation was just so easy, so natural. I thanked him for my date last week and how I loved being in kind of his environment in Puerto Rico playing baseball. That's something that I'm athletic and I like to do.
And he was like, "Great," you know? (Laughs) And then he began to kiss me, so definitely, I walked away going "I got this in the bag," you know? "I'm getting a rose."
Reality TV World: You labeled Ben "perfect" during Monday night's episode, looking back on your relationship with him and now that you've gotten to watch some of the episodes from home and observe his relationships with some of the other bachelorettes, would you still stand by that statement or have you changed your mind?
Jennifer Fritsch: (Laughs) That's a broad question. I have changed my mind for sure. I obviously left having no idea that he had gone skinny dipping with Courtney and I wondered when I saw the promo, I was thinking, "Oh my gosh. Do the other girls find out?"
Because it changes things a little bit. There were nine -- well, there were 10 of us there -- and to think that he would go as far as skinny dip with one of them, it just, yeah. It definitely changed things for me. He was no longer perfect.
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Reality TV World: You mentioned how you thought it was a little too early in the season for Courtney to go skinny dipping for you to find it appropriate, but you did make it pretty clear in your [on-air] conversation with her and a couple of the other bachelorettes that you generally approve of skinny dipping. So under what circumstances do you think it would have been okay for Courtney do go through with it and if you were in her position, when would you find it appropriate?
Jennifer Fritsch: I mean, definitely cameras wouldn't be around is probably way more appropriate and that's why even though I said that, you still would have never seen it from me. But as far as it being so early, I mean maybe they are -- maybe they just have such a deep connection that no one else sees yet, I don't know.
But it just bothers me at the point when there were still 10 women there and he just went along with it. He could have said, "No." He could have said, "It's a little too early," but I think he kind of made his bed because whoever he does choose in the end, if it's not Courtney, I wish him all the luck because he'd be facing a lot of questions.
Reality TV World: What do you think Courtney going skinny dipping with Ben says about Ben and what he's potentially looking for in a partner, or do you think it doesn't really say anything at all and critics might be just reading too much into it?
Jennifer Fritsch: You know, I get that -- like you saw Monday night, skinny dipping, I'm okay with it. But there's a time for it and also a place for it, and I don't think either one of those really fit that situation. So for Ben to go for it like he did, it's just -- it does bother me and I think everyone has the right to be bothered by it as well.
Reality TV World: In Ben's People blog, he said he wasn't thinking about the other women's feelings when he decided to go skinny dipping with Courtney. What are your thoughts about that? Do you think that shows he might've just cared more about Courtney than how his decision would impact his bachelorettes? Because he's previously said he sent Shawntel Newton home earlier in the season as to not hurt the girls' feelings, so it seems a little inconsistent.
Jennifer Fritsch: Oh yeah, absolutely. When I saw the promo, I was thinking, "He doesn't care about what anyone thinks, especially the people who are potentially falling in love with him."
And I had never thought of it to the point where, "Yeah, he picked Shawntel because people were upset or sent her home because we didn't like it, I guess," but definitely inconsistent. I think I'm interested to see how the rest of the season plays out as far as what else happens between them.
Reality TV World: You seemed to be the one leading the conversation with Courtney and a couple of the other girls before the Rose Ceremony. So after you watched the episode back, were you shocked that Courtney didn't admit she went skinny dipping with Ben to you guys right then and there? What was your reaction to how she deliberately withheld that information from you girls when the topic of skinny dipping was being openly discussed?
Jennifer Fritsch: Oh, yeah. I could not believe, watching it play out, that I had a conversation like that and little did I know that she had been. I honestly think she didn't admit it because she knew of the repercussions. Everybody, I mean, they already didn't like her. To me, I just felt like maybe she was a little scared to openly admit that.
Reality TV World: Ben said during this week's episode after Blakeley Shea opened up to him before the Rose Ceremony that she was one girl he was "really unsure" about going into the evening but then he did a total 180. What's your response to that comment? Do you think you were a shoo-in to get a rose and Blakeley was the one going home instead of you until Ben and Blakeley had that conversation?
Jennifer Fritsch: Yeah, yeah. I for sure thought that Blakeley was going to be going home other than the fact that she did great at the baseball game, but like me, she didn't have any other time. But I also thought it could be [Casey Shteamer] or [Jamie Otis]. To me, those three were up in the air for me and any one of them could have gone before I was going to go.
Also during the call, Jennifer told reporters whether she ever received closure from Ben following her elimination, why she disliked Courtney and believed she had nothing else going for her besides her looks and who she thought would actually be a good match for Ben.
Did you ever get any closure from Ben or an explanation as to why he chose to send you home when he did?
Jennifer Fritsch: As far as him walking me out, he kind of said something to me to the effect of I was feeling a little bit more than he was for me. I didn't really think it was a good answer because I didn't pick up that vibe from him at all. Other than that, the only closure I've had was from his blog that he does every week. I thought it was a nice blog and it kind of makes sense to me and definitely helps me now.
Did it bother you that Ben eliminated you at the Rose Ceremony which took place immediately after the cocktail party where he kept kissing you?
Jennifer Fritsch: (Laughs) Yes, I was very frustrated because I, after the time I had with him, I had gone and done an interview and I swore up and down there was no way I was going home. I had also heard how some other people's time -- some other girls -- their time went with him and so, I definitely thought there was no way. So, I had the rug pulled out from under me, for sure.
Could you talk a little bit about what you thought about Ben? Why did you like him?
Jennifer Fritsch: I liked Ben from the get-go. I thought he was a really down to earth kind of guy and just from the conversations that we were able to have in the first couple weeks, I thought we had so much in common. Definitely from my one-on-one date, we [both] loved music. We kind of shared that passion for it and I just thought he was a really sweet guy. Getting sent home so soon, I may have changed my opinion a little bit.
What is your opinion of Courtney and why do you think she has been able to win him over so easily?
Jennifer Fritsch: I'm not sure if it's her personality that's so just -- she's a little pushy -- and I didn't think that he would buy into that so easily, but it looks as though he is. My opinion of her while I was there, I didn't associate with her.
She wasn't a person that I said "hi" to or "bye" to or anything like that. I knew she wasn't nice, but that's as far as I would take it until now watching, I definitely feel a little stronger that I don't like her much.
Looking back now, do you think Ben narrowed the playing field down to one or two girls this early on and just felt like he had to let girls go along the way in that it would become less of an issue for him as his feelings for someone else grew stronger?
Jennifer Fritsch: I knew he had a connection with Courtney and [Kacie Boguskie] and [Lindzi Cox], obviously. They were some of his favorites. I thought I was a favorite too, but as I'm watching it now, I kind of feel like he sent me home when he did because maybe I was a little bit too real.
I think he had feelings for me, but at the same time, there were people there -- like Blakeley and Casey S. and Jamie -- who, I think, would be easier for him to let go in a couple more weeks versus letting me go in a couple more weeks when he would have to feel bad about it. So, I mean, that's kind of how I justify it in my mind.
Emily O'Brien has already voiced her concerns about Courtney to Ben, but do you think things would have played out differently for you had someone confronted Ben about Courtney's behavior earlier on?
Jennifer Fritsch: No, I don't think anything would have been different if someone had said something earlier on. If Emily had confronted Ben the first week and said, "Courtney's not right for you," I don't think it would have changed anything.
And I can say that because watching now, it seems like no matter what warning he's getting, he continually proves over and over again that she's one of his favorites. So to me, it's kind of a moot point whether it was brought up in Monday's episode or if it would have been brought up the first night. It wouldn't have changed anything.
Do you think Courtney was on the show for the right reasons? Do you think she wanted to just "win" the competition or that she really liked Ben?
Jennifer Fritsch: I think she is definitely all about winning and maybe she likes Ben a little bit. And I heard someone use the term "the Ben pill" and she definitely took it. As far as whether that's real feelings, I don't know. She's in a different career to where, yeah, she could come out ahead. She gets a lot of exposure and just for her to use "winning" all the time, it just makes sense that she's there more to be seen.
Which bachelorette do you think would be a good match for Ben?
Jennifer Fritsch: I definitely think Emily would be a good match for him and I [loved Rachel Truehart]. I think she was definitely -- they had an awkward one-on-one date, yes, but I think the connection with them runs deeper. I liked Kacie B. She's a favorite. I think she's a little young maybe for him and doesn't have a lot of experience -- like life experience or relationship history -- to be someone for him.
Has this experience taught you anything about what you're looking for in a relationship and are you over Ben now and ready to date?
Jennifer Fritsch: I laugh and I say, what I'm going to do differently in my next relationship is not date a guy that is dating 24 other women. But no, I really went into this already knowing what I'm looking for because I'm a long-term commitment kind of person and I've dated the wrong guys for a long time.
Through that, I think I started this process already knowing. Whether Ben would have been right or not have been right, I think in the end, it would have been proven. I'm definitely over him. (Laughs)
If you had stuck around, would you have considered intervening and telling Ben what you thought about Courtney or did you feel like it was his decision to make good or bad?
Jennifer Fritsch: Yeah, no. It's not something I would have done. I obviously saw her for who she was too on the other side of things, but I would have never said anything to him. He's going to make his choices and if he can't see through her, then I don't think he deserves to have anyone tell him any different.
What are your thoughts on how Courtney used her sex appeal to basically catch Ben and blind him?
Jennifer Fritsch: If that's her tactic, then that's her tactic. Some people use that to their advantage and some people have better qualities. I don't think she has a much better side than her looks. So, if that's what she has to work with, that's what she uses.
Why do you think Ben is falling for someone like Courtney?
Jennifer Fritsch: I do think he's caught in her web and watching the episodes from this side, that's exactly what I -- she sucked him in and there's no escaping.