'The Bachelor' alum Ben Higgins suggests the show's use of his old footage is damaging his marriage to Jessica Clarke
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/15/2022
The Bachelor alum Ben Higgins has suggested the show's use of his old footage is damaging his new marriage to Jessica Clarke and he's worried The Bachelor producers will show something that "ruins" it.
On Ben's season, he told his runner-up JoJo Fletcher and winner Lauren Bushnell that he loved them both, which resulted in a tense and emotional finale in 2016, and Clayton was just shown telling three women he's in love with them on Season 26.
"I haven't had a producer text me in three years. They don't give me any heads-up anymore," Ben said during Monday's episode of his "The Ben and Ashley I: Almost Famous Podcast," which he co-hosts with Ashley Iaconetti.
"And then I just saw a preview of my proposal [to Lauren] during The Bachelor [finale teaser], and I was like, 'Come on, guys. I'm married, like, can we stop ABC?'"
Ben, who tied the knot with Jessica in November 2021, broached the sensitive subject during an interview with former The Bachelor star Colton Underwood, who revealed producers had given him a heads-up that his ex-girlfriend Cassie Randolph would be making an appearance on the show's two-night finale event this week for Clayton's season.
"How does that make you feel, though?... I think The Bachelor franchise, for me, became just so toxic and such a business that I didn't want to be involved in how they handle things like that," Colton said.
"So I stepped away. How do you reconcile that with yourself, internally, when they continue to do things that don't sit well with you or don't give you a heads-up?"
Ben responded, "Personally, I think it's more hard for Jessica than it is for me."
"For me, it is a memory and a lot of times, it is a blur in my life. It obviously was a very real relationship and a very real time for me that, you know, I've worked hard on moving on from."
Ben said there was no immediate, "Okay, this is over and now I can get past it."
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Once Ben and Lauren got engaged on The Bachelor 20, they starred on a spinoff, Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, which aired on Freeform after their The Bachelor season wrapped on TV and featured the pair planning a wedding.
But Ben came down with a case of cold feet, and he and Lauren called off their engagement and split in May 2017.
Following his breakup with Lauren, Ben also appeared on The Bachelor: Winter Games, which aired on ABC in 2018, but quit the spinoff after admitting he was still struggling get over his relationship with Lauren and wasn't ready to date again yet.
"That relationship affected me in a lot of different ways -- good and bad," Ben shared on his podcast.
"And so I've worked personally on getting away from that to then invest, fully, into my wife. That's a big deal and that's hard enough, to be married and to give up a lot of yourself for your partner."
Ben, however, said that he understands how he had "fully agreed" to the show and its terms.
"I agreed to be the lead of this show. And I fully understand that you own the rights to everything that happened on the season for perpetuity," Ben noted.
"And so however [ABC uses] that, I cannot be upset, because I agreed to that."
But that doesn't make handling a constant rehash of his past mistakes and failures any easier.
"I don't have to like it. I don't have to enjoy it. And I hope they care about me enough at this point where they're like, 'I don't want to show something that, like, ruins his marriage,'" Ben pointed out.
He went on to clarify, "I don't know if they have that power, but [I hope] they don't show something that causes, you know, drama within my marriage."
"I hope they respect me enough for that. I don't know. That has yet to be seen," he added.
Regardless, Ben acknowledged "it still isn't fun and it's still not ideal" to watch himself tell two people, "I love you," or be reminded of his broken engagement to Lauren.
"It still makes me cringe. I'm like, 'Gosh damnit, I don't want to watch myself with another human.' That's not where my mind is at," Ben shared. "But I understand what I did and I understand that I gave up [that footage willingly]."
Ben concluded that as much as he's moved on and doesn't have much of a connection with The Bachelor franchise anymore, he understands "that they still have that piece of me."
"And shoot, they want to show a couple more clips of me? Maybe that helps my social-media following," Ben said, trying to look on the bright side of things. "I don't know."
Ben and Jessica's relationship began in December 2018 when Ben apparently saw Jessica's photo from a hockey game she had gone to with her father and decided to direct message her on Instagram.
After chatting on FaceTime, the pair met in person and Ben asked her to be his girlfriend.