Welcome back everyone! What a week! –
I want to start first off by thanking for everyone for all the incredibly nice things that have been said about me this week. It's truly humbling for me to hear all of it so I want to say thank you. Going into this, trying to be "the best Bachelor ever" was and is not my goal at all. I just wanted to stay true to myself and really give everyone of these relationships the full effort that they deserved because of all that these women gave up to be here. I hope I did both of those things despite the mistakes I am sure I made along the way, but truly and honestly, thank you all for everything.
But on to the first week!
I cannot even put into words how excited I was to get this week started. The first night was such a whirlwind that I was very anxious to actually get some more time with these women. But I was nervous too! I mean how do you date multiple women on one date?! I know I signed up for this and went on group dates myself when I was on The Bachelorette, but the idea of being the one guy with all those women was truly intimidating. I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into but was totally excited by that idea.
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And on top of that, I know Lace and my decision to keep Lace has been the subject of a lot of discussion, but I saw in my conversations with her what a sweet and sincere woman she seemed to be. So despite some hiccups on night one, I viewed this as a new day and a fresh start with Lace.
So with all my nerves going into my very first group date as The Bachelor, I loved the idea of having the first date at a high school. To me it was a setting that I felt really comfortable with and thought it would also be calming for the ladies that I knew were likely just as nervous as I was.
I know people think these dates can be so over-the-top, but I really think you can draw a lot of very real life lessons from these dates. I mean first of all, I wanted something that could be fun even in an awkward setting. Whomever I marry is not going to only be with me all the time. I have a group of friends and co-workers and I want my wife to get along and be able to have fun in a group setting. I also wanted the girls on teams so I can see how they work together, as teamwork is required in any relationship. That's why Lace and Jubilee's struggles concerned me. They really seemed to be having a hard time coming together, and while I didn't want to put too much stock in it, it was definitely something I thought I should keep an eye on moving forward.
Chris Harrison and I went back and forth on the women having to place Indiana on a map. I thought it would be a breeze but Chris thought otherwise, and I guess he was right on this one. I mean NO ONE got it right! That hurt, I am not gonna lie. But Becca and JoJo … come on! Maybe I need to get these ladies to Indiana one of these days to help them figure it out. Stay tuned and see if that happens later this season ….
I had so much fun on this date though and was really impressed by Mandi, who was certainly not whom I thought would win this thing when it all started. And I know you guys all saw her taking her shoes off for the race at the end, but she actually cut her foot on the track too so she actually shed blood to win! If that doesn't deserve homecoming queen, I don't know what does.
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As much fun as all of that was, the after party was really what I was looking forward to as that is the opportunity I get to really get to know these women. I've mentioned before how appreciative I was that Becca was willing to go through all of this again for a chance to be with me. But I could also tell that she was a little nervous and self-conscious about it. So I wanted to put her in a comfortable spot so that she could be calm and confident and be able to just focus on us – and not the fact that she is coming back a second time. That's why I thought shooting baskets would be great for us. (By the way, did you see that girl's shot?! She would definitely be welcome in the Hoosier state with a jump shot like that.) But more than anything, I just was glad that she knew that I was excited that she was here and really interested in getting to know her more.
While we are on the subject of impressive, can we talk about Jubilee for a minute? I mean, wow. What she has accomplished and overcome at such a young age is just unbelievable. I was already amazed that a woman like her was an actual war veteran, but hearing how she grew up and what she had to overcome to even be here in this country just makes her devotion and accomplishments mean all that much more to me. And her depth when talking about it … I just can't say enough honestly.
And I know everyone will want to talk about Lace. I didn't know that she was upsetting the other women as much as she was, and I get people criticizing her for being overly aggressive. I mean, she is a bit aggressive. But I think what a lot of people don't think about is that, from my perspective (and remember, I am not seeing her interactions with the other women until I am watching it on TV, just like you), she is also showing me that she really cares – that she is not just here for a good time or a party, but that she is seriously interested in me and wants to make progressing our relationship a priority. I have a really hard time getting upset about that.
But when it came down to it that night, my time with JoJo just stood out as being incredibly special. It was one of those things that despite knowing that I was there with several other women, when I was with JoJo on that rooftop, I felt like we were the only two people in the world.
And that was the most surprising thing to me about that date overall. I know that no one who hasn't experienced it will ever really understand, but already on that night I was starting to have feelings. Real feelings. And not just for one woman. I could not believe that these relationships were already moving forward as much as they were and that I was already really starting to care for so many of them.
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The next day, I really had no idea what was going to happen. Advice for future Bachelors: Don't let Chris Harrison plan your dates! I was so anxious! So when Kevin Hart and Ice Cube walked in the door, I was blown away. I mean really, does everyone realize what a big deal this is? I literally had gone to Kevin Hart's show a week before I came to L.A. when I was home in Denver. It was in a sold-out arena and he absolutely had me rolling. So seeing him in front of me in that moment was so surreal. And that's not even mentioning Ice Cube. This guy is an actual legend. Not only did he change music forever, but also he has become an absolute icon that can act, sing and likely do whatever the hell he wants at this point. These are two of the funniest and most entertaining men in America, bar none. I seriously could not believe it.
That said, it was a little overwhelming and even a little intimidating going on my first one-on-one date with these two in the backseat. I mean, how am I supposed to compete with that?! But it was still so much fun. I do think that Ice Cube and I may have different ideas of how a first date may go, as I don't know that I have ever stopped for condoms along the way, but we definitely did not stop laughing the whole time.
And Caila was amazing. That was also not an easy situation for her to be in, but she just beamed that beautiful smile and rolled along with whatever those guys wanted to do. I love that in a partner. Someone who is just down for whatever and is going to have a great time and smile through anything that comes her way. So impressed.
Talking to Caila that night was really eye-opening. It was easy to see even from night one that Caila has great energy and we had a connection that was undeniable. When you can talk about software and still have a good time, that says something. But I had no idea of the depth that Caila had until that night. She was so aware and in touch with her emotions. I strive to be introspective and be able to self-evaluate, and Caila was just so impressive as she talked about her past relationship and asked me questions about my own experiences. Giving her a rose was really not even a question at that point.
I knew the night wasn't over, but Chris Harrison had other ideas when he planned this date and I am SO glad that he did. Amos Lee is seriously one of my favorite artists of all time. He's had such an impact on me and really added depth to my life and relationships through music. Being able to share that with Caila made this easily the most memorable date of my entire life.
And even after all of that, there was still more to come!
I was really excited and intrigued by the Love Lab. Honestly, if science can help me sort through all these wonderful women, then I am all in! I am not sure I have ever sniffed a girl's armpit on a first date, but hey, I'm open-minded.
But I should be clear, I understand that the idea of science being a utility to finding love is something gaining in popularity, but it really is far from the be-all and end-all to me. This was fun, and it was definitely something I will consider, but I was more excited to talk to these women and see if our relationships could move forward outside the lab.
I know all these commercials have painted me out to be a "perfect Ben,"" and I get the play on words, but I think me pulling Olivia first may be the first example that I am definitely not perfect. I definitely was feeling something for Olivia. It's hard not to. She's so poised and intelligent, not to mention stunningly beautiful, and I used her getting the high score in the lab as an excuse that I thought would justify it to the other girls. Watching it now, I realize not only the target that it put on her back, but how underappreciated it may have made the other women feel. But I was learning as I went along, and I never said I was perfect, despite what the commercials and magazines may tell you.
While we are talking about mistakes, Samantha, I am so, so sorry I used the word "sour." Sometimes I'm not so smooth (trust me, my friends make sure I don't forget that), and that was definitely one of those times I put my foot in my mouth a little bit. I really hope I made it up to you at the after party, because I think you are an amazing woman and I would hate it if that made you feel bad in any way.
Hearing that Amanda was a mom just made so much sense the second she said it. There was something I could see in her that I just couldn't put my finger on before. I was intrigued, but I could not place it until she told me that. She has such a delicate way about her and selflessness that all makes sense now, and I was so grateful that she shared it with me. I really felt like after that conversation our relationship could start progressing.
When it came down to the rose, it was really a nearly impossible decision. Every one of these women really put themselves out there and, like with my last group date, I could not believe how quickly I was really starting to feel for so many of them already. But at the end of the day, I had to go with my heart and what I was really feeling. And the connection I was feeling with Olivia already was really something I felt like I wanted to acknowledge.
Nothing is like the cocktail party on the first night. Nothing. Going into this one, I felt so much more at ease after knowing these women a lot better. But I also felt a tremendous amount of pressure to really take the conversations that night extremely seriously because I knew a rose ceremony was coming eventually and I wanted to make sure I was giving everyone a real chance and making the right decisions when the time came.
But of course, there is never, ever enough time. When it came time for that ceremony, I was feeling even more nervous than I was the first night. That first night, I was afraid I might be letting a great woman go home before I had a chance to get to know her. But this time, I KNEW I was going to be sending not just one woman home that I knew was great, but several.
But as I started calling names and came to LB, I think I knew what she was going to say even before she said it. Maybe it's that unlovable insecurity rising up again, but I could see in her eyes that she didn't think this was right for her. And while I understood where she was coming from (remember, I was in her exact same shoes just a few months ago), I really wish she would've been able to give it a little bit more of a chance. I know this can be a hard place to really let your guard down and be your true self, but I think in time, it becomes easier. And I just don't think LB gave it that time. I was sad to see her go because she was a very impressive woman from the little I saw, but of course I had to respect her decision. I said from the start that it was a two-way street, and I wanted these women to want to be here just as much as I wanted them here. That doesn't necessarily make it easier when you see a woman like LB walk out the door away from you.
The hardest part was that was just the first of a few goodbyes I had to say that night. Jackie, Mandi and Sam are all incredible women. Women that are going to make a man very happy one day. But the time I spent with them told me that I knew that it wasn't going to be me. And with all that they had given up to come here, I owed it to them to let them get back to their lives sooner rather than later.
But to be honest, this week was one of the easier weeks I had on this journey. If I thought emotions and tensions were running high this week, just wait 'til you see what next week has in store. I knew there would be tears, and I knew there would be feelings, I just am not sure I thought it would be this soon.
So rest up Bachelor Nation, from here on out, it's a little bit of a bumpy ride!
The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.