'The Bachelor' star Clayton Echard reveals how things may have played out differently if Susie Evans was his first Fantasy Suite date
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/11/2022
The Bachelor star Clayton Echard has revealed how Fantasy Suites may have played out differently had Susie Evans received the first of three dates and actually expressed how meaningful sex is to her.
As shown on Tuesday night's episode of The Bachelor's 26th season, Clayton had sex and professed he was in love with both Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia during his overnight Fantasy-Suite dates with them in Iceland.
When it finally became time for Susie's date at the end of the week, she had already been spiraling and felt extremely emotional about the prospect Clayton may have fallen in love with another woman or been physically intimate with somebody else.
Once Clayton came clean about his actions, Susie -- wanting to be Clayton's one and only in order to feel good about possibly accepting a marriage proposal in one week -- said she couldn't see herself moving forward in the process. She just didn't think she would be able to get over that and be happy with Clayton.
But just as it appeared Susie was going to quit the show, Clayton essentially beat her to the punch and determined he was "done" with her because he didn't think she viewed their relationship as something worth fighting for and saving.
Ashley Iaconetti, who competed on The Bachelor 19 and appeared on multiple seasons of Bachelor in Paradise, asked Clayton how he would've approached the Fantasy Suites had Susie been the very first date and immediately opened up about her dealbreaker regarding sex.
"What would've happened... if she would've told you, 'I can't be here any longer if you sleep with anyone else?'" Ashley asked the Season 26 The Bachelor star during Clayton's March 9 appearance on her "The Ben & Ashley I: Almost Famous Podcast" co-hosted by Ben Higgins.
"What's tough about a 'what if' scenario is, again, what happened, happened," Clayton replied.
"I would like to believe that if [Susie] went first and she gave me that ultimatum, I would've sat back and said, 'Okay, you realize if you take any more action going forward that this could be it for you two?'"
"I was never faced with the end of the line with us until that point that you saw [in the latest episode]."
As a result, Clayton said he'd "like to think" that if he realized the door with Susie was going to close or remain open based on his Fantasy-Suite decisions, he would've taken the complete opposite approach.
FOLLOW REALITY TV WORLD ON THE ALL-NEW GOOGLE NEWS!
Reality TV World is now available on the all-new Google News app and website. Click here to visit our Google News page, and then click FOLLOW to add us as a news source!
"I would have not been intimate with probably anybody at that point," Clayton revealed, "because I wouldn't want to mix it up."
"But my feelings of falling in love with the women were already there at that point. They were already there at the beginning of Fantasy Suites."
Clayton continued, "So if I would've sat and talked to her and said, 'I'm in love with these other two women as well,' and she said, 'That's a dealbreaker,' then it wouldn't have mattered if she went first or third."
Clayton said the only thing he could've changed at that point in the process was his decision to have sex with none or one or more of the women.
"[I could've chosen] to not be intimate with anybody and protect everyone," Clayton said.
"And I believe I would've done that. But I would've still had the feelings [of love]. I started falling in love with these women back in hometowns, maybe even before."
But Clayton said he was "fighting" those feelings during hometowns because he was "still trying to make sense" of how he could possibly be in love with more than one person at a time.
"I didn't want to believe it because I knew it would get messy and now everyone sees that it did. I didn't want to and I told myself, 'I will not fall in love with multiple women,' and I fought it and fought it and fought it and held back those emotions," Clayton shared.
"But then I realized those emotions were there and I did feel that way about those women... You could put a lie-detector test on me. I did. I fell in love with multiple women and I can't take that back."
But Clayton reiterated how if Susie received the first of three Fantasy-Suite dates, he believes he "would not have slept with any of them."
Clayton also shared how he started feeling like he loved Susie "the most" right around hometowns and immediately after.
"Things went so great with her family, and again, I compartmentalize these relationships where when I was just with them, that's all I saw, because I thought that was the right way to approach it," he explained.
"[I thought], 'If you want to give this a fair shot, then when you're with this woman, you're only with her and there are no other women. You want to pour into that person 100 percent.'"
But Clayton said when he would step away and assess his feelings, he realized his Final 4 bachelorettes were "not equivalent" going into Fantasy Suites.
Clayton eliminated Serene Russell in fourth place, and then he confirmed, "I had more love for Susie than I had for either Gabby or Rachel."
Once Clayton and Susie broke up, Clayton was accused of gaslighting the bachelorette, especially when he accused her of "invalidating" everything about their relationship and scolded her for not communicating her feelings about sex earlier on.
Clayton was angry at the bachelorette for not forgiving him and giving him a second chance, and he said at one point, "I don't even know who I'm looking at anymore... You just dropped a bombshell on me... I think it's B-S... Anything you say to me from this point doesn't matter anymore."
Clayton apparently believes Susie just "did not adapt to [The Bachelor] environment" and so they were on two different pages come Fantasy Suites, which resulted in an emotional and slightly combative breakup.
"I essentially believed in the process. I stepped in as the Bachelor and said, 'Okay, I'm going to date 30 women and this will be acceptable,'" Clayton said.
"This is the only environment when you can kiss a woman in front of 30 other women and they're still going to stick around and try to be with you the next day. You could never do that in the real world, it's not feasible."
Clayton therefore admitted how he came to the conclusion things just "work differently" on The Bachelor and so he thought he had "a little bit of leeway."
"It's not real-world applicable," he noted. "Because of that, I started to adapt to the environment and I started to say, 'Well, okay, I'm assuming that these women understand how Fantasy Suites go. I'm assuming they understand I might fall in love with multiple women.'"
Susie, on the other hand, "stayed herself, her true self, from outside the show vs. coming into the show."
"And I commend her for that and I think that's incredibly respectful," Clayton insisted on the podcast.
"The disconnect was I adapted, she didn't, and we were on these two different fields of understanding. And as I look back on it now, from being on the outside of it, I'm like, 'Yeah, her side of it makes complete sense.' And I just couldn't in that moment because I was very entrenched in that belief that things work differently there."
A preview for next week's two-night finale of The Bachelor shows Clayton saying he's "broken" after Susie's departure.
Clayton also tells Rachel and Gabby that he was in love and had been intimate with the both of them in Fantasy Suites, which results in the women storming off and bawling their eyes out.
Even Clayton's own father, Brian, tells the Bachelor that he "screwed the pooch" in this situation.
"I wish I never would've fallen in love," Clayton admits to his parents in tears.