The Bachelorette bachelor Jef Holm has emerged as one of the frontrunners to win the heart of Bachelorette Emily Maynard, playing the role of the dark horse of the competition.

Jef got off to a slow start with Emily and had developed a strong friendship with her before making his first move to kiss her and convince The Bachelorette star there was a real romantic chemistry between them. However, Jef's decision to hold back a bit seems to have worked to his advantage thus far, as Emily is intrigued by the suitor and has claimed he continues to keep her guessing.

During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Jef talked to Reality TV World about his experience so far on The Bachelorette and his perspective on some of his fellow bachelors who have been eliminated and also those that still remain -- including whether he would've told Emily about Kalon McMahon's "baggage" comment during their one-on-one date had Doug Clerget not done so the night prior, whether he would've warned Emily about Ryan Bowers had she not decided to cut him on her own time, and why he believed waiting so long to kiss Emily was ultimately a great idea.

Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for more from Jef's call.

Reality TV World: Do you think taking things slow ultimately helped or hurt your relationship with Emily? Because although it seemed like it grabbed her attention and kept her guessing, some viewers have argued you waiting to make the first move might've pushed her away because she began questioning whether you even liked her and then it could've allowed her other relationships to develop faster and possibly become stronger than yours. 
Jef Holm:
Yeah, I think some of her relationships did develop faster than ours, but if I could go back and re-do it, I would do it the exact same way. I wouldn't change one single thing, because I made the move when I was ready to and it kept her guessing.

I think it was kind of cool to make her wait, because like I said, all the other guys were just like chasing her and right out there in front, and I was the one guy who was just like, "You're going to have to fight for me too! I don't want to be the only guy who's pursuing you here. I want you to pursue me and I want it to be like a mutual thing, and if we develop feelings for or a relationship with each other, then I want it to be both ways."

Reality TV World: You said you were present for the conversation in which Kalon referred to Ricki as "baggage," and you told Emily all about it after you had discovered the other guys had shared the information with her during the group date. However, if Emily wasn't made aware of Kalon's comment prior to your one-on-one date, would you have been the one to tell her about it? And would you have waited until a later time? Because I'm sure you'd worry her reaction to the news might ruin the small amount of one-on-one time you finally got with her.

Jef Holm: Right. That's a good question, and I was present when Kalon made that comment. We were sitting on the couch in London and I just happened to walk in right as he said that, and I asked him, "Well, if you feel like Ricki's baggage, then why wouldn't you leave?" And he said he felt like his life back home was pretty boring and he was in it for the cool adventure to be on.

And immediately, as soon as I heard that, [Doug Clerget] and I went to the gym together and I told him what had happened and I wasn't going on the group date obviously, and that's because I had the next one-on-one date with her. And so I told Doug, I was like, "Look, I think she needs to know and I think she needs to know immediately."

And if Doug didn't want to tell her, I would've definitely told her on my one-on-one date. I felt like she needed to know something, you know, some information that's that crucial. And so, luckily, Doug told her. I think Doug's a really good guy for doing that and standing up for her, but yeah, I definitely would've told her on our next date -- the first opportunity that I had for her to know, I wanted her to know.

Reality TV World: If Emily didn't eliminate Ryan Bowers during her one-on-one date with him, would you have stepped up to the plate and warned Emily about his personality and the comments that rubbed you all the wrong way? Would you have tried to convince her that Ryan wasn't the guy for her or would you have waited to let her figure that out on her own?

Jef Holm: I would've waited to let her figure that out on her own, because if he would've said something or done something that was inappropriate or derogatory towards her or something that was just bad and I felt she needed to know about, then I would've definitely stepped up to the plate to tell her.

I wasn't afraid to say anything to her or to give her any bad news about the guys. I wouldn't necessarily have tried to throw any of the guys under the bus, but I wanted her to know what was happening in the house, because she wasn't told anything unless it came from one of the guys.

So, I would've told her, but I've always wondered that too. I always wondered when she would be filled in on how Ryan really was, and I worried that he would get really far because he was really good -- he was a really good salesman -- and I thought that she was kind of blind to it at first.

And then when she came and picked up Ryan for her date in Croatia, she looked over at me one time not like, "This date is going to be fun." She looked over at me and just gave me this smile like, "Yeah right. This date's not going to be fun for anybody." So I kind of knew right then. It was weird. It was just a look she gave me, but at that time, I knew she wasn't being fooled by any of his tricks.

Reality TV World: There's been a lot of discussion in the house amongst the bachelors about how some of the guys are too young and immature to take on the responsibility of being a husband and stepfather although they might believe they're ready. Did you ever take any heat from the guys about being young and immature? If so, what was said? And if not, what side did you take in that argument? Did you think age was indicative of how ready a guy was to step into a father role? 

Jef Holm: That's a good question. I never took any flack about being too young or immature or too wild or funny or anything, and that's definitely how I was portrayed in the house too -- or that's how I was in the house -- was just the young, funny, happy dude, who just talked to all the guys and hung out with them.

So, it's kind of weird that I wasn't talked to like that. None of the guys said I was too young or anything like that. But I would side with [Chris Bukowski] in that argument that although age does matter because you learn and you grow as you get older, I don't think anyone in the house was too young.

I think all the guys there were chosen because they could possibly see themselves being a father -- minus Kalon. I think all the guys could've stepped up and have been a really good father.

Reality TV World: During your one-on-one date with Emily, you said if Ricki was going to be compared to baggage, she'd be an expensive Chloe handbag. And then Emily went off on a tangent about vintage Louis Vuitton and what not. Some viewers are wondering how you know so much about designer bags. Where did that knowledge come from?

Jef Holm: I'm really into fashion and I have three sisters and a mom, and they're really into shopping. I'm 27. I've dated a lot of girls -- some of them with expensive taste. (Laughs) I don't really know where it comes from. That's just being around it and hanging out with my sisters and girlfriends and shopping and hanging out and having good taste and knowing fashion, I guess. I don't really know!

Reality TV World: Emily has asked mostly all the guys how many kids they see themselves having, except we haven't seen you answer that. How many kids would you like? Would you be willing to have a van full of kids as Emily had suggested she wants?

Jef Holm: I would definitely be willing -- I want a lot of kids. And as for the number and what Emily and I had discussed about that, it does come up, and you'll get to see us talk about it, and it's really cool.

One of our conversations coming up really soon is all about that, and I just kind of drill her with questions about family and then she turns it on me. So, it's really cool. We start to communicate a lot more and our relationship takes a really big turn this next episode, so tune in and find out. It's really cool.

Reality TV World: How do you feel about how the public has reacted to you since you've been on The Bachelorette? Has the response been mostly positive? Have you come across any negativity? And how do you think the show will affect your personal and professional goals?

Jef Holm: That's a good question. I've had 99.9% percent positive response since being on it. It's been interesting. It's really cool, and I think people who really know me or have cared to find out about what I do professionally or find out about my family life or my private life, I think they know what type of guy I am and they're not trying to make up stories about who I am.

And 99.9% percent of the stuff that's come out has been true and it portrays me in an honest, true, good light. There's been a couple bad things that people have twisted like talking about my company, how we build [water] wells in other countries.

People talk about how I use that to pick up girls or something like that -- stupid stuff. I feel like the bad stuff that has come out about me, they've had to really stretch and really try to come up with weird, stupid things about me. It's funny to see how hard they're trying to twist things in my life.

Also in the call, Jef told reporters why he became such good friends with Arie and what he had to say about Arie's past dating situation with one of The Bachelorette producers, how much he thought his money played a role in Emily's attraction towards him if it played one at all, whether he definitely would love to be the next The Bachelor star if provided the opportunity or decline the chance immediately, and how his infamous hairdo came about.

When we talked to Arie Luyendyk Jr. last week, he said you two were great friends in the house and it was kind of like you guys against the football team. Could you talk a little bit about your friendship, your thoughts on Arie, and why you became good friends?

Jef Holm: Yeah, Arie and I became really good friends on the show. We were completely different from any of the other guys, we felt like. We became good friends and we hung out a lot. It was different with us, like any time he would come home from a date, it was weird because we like weren't -- it wasn't weird to talk about it.

We didn't have a rivalry going or anything like that. We just became good friends and we could talk about it openly, and we tried to keep our feelings for Emily out of it and just talk about it as if we were going out with different girls, you know what I mean? We wanted to stay friends on the show and after the show.

He's kind of a free spirit just like I am. It doesn't really show a lot on the show, you know, how much of a free spirit I am. I'm just kind of portrayed as like "Jef's the nice guy," but he and I, we are really similar. He's a really good guy; I really like Arie.

Why did you take things so slow with Emily in the beginning? Was that a strategy, and then did you feel like you had a lot of catching up to do with some of the other guys at this point in the season?

Jef Holm: Yeah, that's a really good question. I get that question a lot and it's kind of interesting. When I first got to the house, I realized that every single one of the guys was just like going full-steam ahead for Emily. Every one of the guys -- like any time she was in the room, they were just like jumping up and giving her their seat and trying to get her a drink or trying to talk to her -- just like surrounding her and swarming her.

That's not really how I am anyways with girls, especially in a situation like that. I wasn't going to be just like up in front, trying to make her notice me, and so I wanted to be one of the guys -- and I guess I was the only guy -- who kind of played it cool and wanted her to know that there's a guy that's not completely trying to chase her like crazy.

I wanted to chase her, for sure, but I didn't want to be like someone who's just out there trying to get her attention like crazy as well. And all the guys thought I was crazy and that I was just blowing it, and they didn't realize that Emily and I were sharing some looks back and forth, so I knew that I didn't need to be like out in front jumping and trying to get her attention so much.

Did it feel like you had to catch up to the other guys because some of their relationships with Emily were moving faster than yours? Did you get to the point where you were like, "Oh boy, I better kiss her now?"

Jef Holm: I don't know if I really felt like I needed to catch up to them. It was so early on and I was just trying to figure out -- up until Bermuda when I didn't kiss her on the beach twice, it was just because I was still -- to be honest with you, I was still trying to figure out what I was doing there.

It's a strange situation to begin with, and it's definitely something that I wasn't completely comfortable doing, you know, dating a girl in that type of situation. So I was just kind of trying to figure out what I was doing and I was nervous and still trying to figure it all out, and we had built a really strong friendship up until that point. I just wasn't really ready to take it to the next level, because I didn't really know.

There were times when I wanted to go home, and then when I hung out with Emily, I wanted to stay more than anything and get to know her more because she's amazing. But I was just trying to figure that out. I didn't feel like I had to catch up to the other guys.

During the preview for this Monday night's episode, there's a clip of Emily finding out that Arie had actually dated one of The Bachelorette's producers in the past. What did you and the guys think about that whole thing when you first heard about it, and how did you try to comfort Emily? What did you say to her when she found out?

Jef Holm: That's a good question. I didn't find out until after I had gotten home and it was really interesting. It was really weird to me because Arie and I had developed a really good friendship and communicated about everything.

And it's so strange to me because he would come back home from the hotel after going on a date, and he'd be like -- we talked about it all the time -- and he would be like, "Emily just feels like there's something that I'm like hiding from her or something that I'm holding back, and I have no idea what it is."

And obviously I had no idea that he dated one of the producers, so I was just like, "Well, what do you think it is?" And he's like, "I have no idea. I just get the feeling that she just doesn't trust me or that there's something up." And of course when I got home and I figured that out, I was just like, "Well, duh!" (Laughs)

So, it never came up one time and as soon as I found out, obviously I was like, "Well that's obviously what it was that she felt like you were hiding," because she found out. And I know she didn't address it immediately with him. She kept trying to get him to open up and talk about it, and I think that next week you'll find out a lot more about it. It's a really shocking and really cool interesting story.

Could you tell that Emily was upset about something in general around the same time she ended up finding out about Arie's past? Did you know something was bothering her even though you weren't sure what it was exactly?

Jef Holm: No, when I hung out with Emily, every time, it was just about us. We never really got into anything about the other guys and I actually tried to once in awhile, just because like I know it's a weird situation with her and for her.

And so I would just want to talk to her about all the other guys. I'm not like -- I mean, obviously Arie and I talked a little bit about stuff every night -- I'm not like a jealous guy and I don't think Arie is either.

And so, I wanted to know stories about the other guys and how the relationships were and stuff like that and her to open up about it, but when we hung out for the most part, it was just that we focused on us and we focused on developing a relationship between the two of us, and it turned into a pretty cool thing.

There are some rumors circling out there about who supposedly won this season of The Bachelorette. What has your reaction been to those people claiming it's you?

Jef Holm: I'm flattered that people think that it's me. I think that's cool and I definitely developed strong feelings for Emily, but as for where I'm at right now and my feelings for her, I'm still crazy about her. But as for what happens, you'll just have to tune in to find out!

Some of the previously-eliminated bachelors we've talked to this season have mentioned that Emily is attracted to you because of your financial stability. Did you and Emily have any conversations about money that just haven't aired on television and do you think she was attracted to you for other reasons besides your money?

Jef Holm: I know for a fact that it's 100% percent our chemistry together -- that's why she's attracted to me. And we have never had one time, never one time on the show actually at all period, ever talked about financial things or money or anything like that. And she actually mentioned to me one time -- I can't remember when it was -- I think it's coming up in our next stop.

I don't know if it's oncamera or not, but she actually mentioned that she thought I still lived at home. So she had no idea that I -- she has no idea about my financial status, and she never did and I never knew anything about hers. It was just completely two people getting to know each other and finding out if they like each other.

Have you always had your interesting hairstyle? Where did it evolve from? (Laughs)

Jef Holm: Why are you laughing when we're talking about my hair?!

Everyone's talking about it. It's the cute new style.

Jef Holm: Well, thanks, finally someone talks about my hair! (Laughs) No, I haven't always had this hairdo. I actually, when I was approached to come on the show, I had really long hair. When I went into casting, I had it all back into a big ponytail and it was really long down to my shoulders. I think they wanted me to kind of keep that "bad boy" image, because I am misunderstood in that way.

I own my own business and I come from a really conservative family, yet I have tattoos and long hair, and you wouldn't think that I was nice or that I'd develop a relationship or chemistry with Emily like I did because of [my looks]. But no, I haven't always had my hair like that. I just recently cut it, probably like three weeks before I went on the show.

To be honest with you, I kind of cut it because of Emily. I didn't watch her season and I didn't know hardly anything about her, except for what my sister told me. She seemed like a southern belle who is conservative and I didn't want to go in there looking like -- I didn't want my image to be the demise of me.

I didn't want to go home the first night just because of the way I look. I wanted her to really get to know me. So I felt like my personality would come out the best if I looked like that and cut my hair a little shorter.

Would you consider being the next The Bachelor star if you don't win and end up with Emily?

Jef Holm: Would I consider being the next Bachelor? Probably not. No, I wouldn't. I'm kind of done with the whole dating on TV thing. I mean, it was a different situation for me and I'm literally glad I went through it because I learned a lot about myself and I met an amazing person, like I said, one of the most amazing people I've ever met. But yeah, I don't think that I would ever consider being the next Bachelor.

Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for more from Jef's call. About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.