After falling in love on reality television, getting engaged after only eight weeks and enduring some nasty tabloid rumors, Jillian Harris—star of The Bachelorette
—has learned to expect the unexpected. Yet when she moved into fiancé Ed Swiderski's Chicago condominium just last month, she wasn't planning on quite so much compromise. "Let's just say I know how to be organized," Jillian, 29, says sarcastically, putting Ed, 30, on the defensive. "Sometimes when I get home from work I just want to throw my crap on the floor and go lay on the couch for a bit," he says. Besides, Ed says, he has had to "accept her insane amount of clothes," before Jillian interjects, giggling, "and you not being able to hit the laundry basket."
As he-said/she-said debates go, the couple have already battled over far dirtier laundry. Last August two former girlfriends of Ed's claimed to have continued relationships with the software consultant—all while he was still wooing Jillian on The Bachelorette
's season finale, which ended filming last May. The allegations left many wondering why Jillian didn't kick Ed to the curb, especially once one of the women claimed to have received text messages from Ed asking her to come over late at night and to "bring condoms and beer."
Ed admits that before proposing to Jillian, "I was a bachelor in every sense of the word." Still, he adds, "I am not an angel, but things were exaggerated." Jillian, however, insists that her man has done nothing wrong. "It would be more naïve for me to trust [these women] than to trust the person I'm going to bed with every single night and have spoken to every single night," she says. "He has been so open with me: every little text message and every little phone call. I use his computer. I know that any communication he had with the girls postshow was platonic." Snuggled on a couch with Jillian's legs draped on his lap, Ed says, "I've never opened up to anyone else the way that I have with Jill. She knows everything about me and there aren't any surprises. It's a refreshing feeling."
After several days of what Jillian calls "big talks" about "family and life," the couple headed up to Vancouver to powwow with Jillian's parents. It was then, Ed says, "we knew we had to be together to make this work, and that's exactly what we did." Instead of the every-other-week reunions they originally thought would sustain the relationship, they began flying to each other's side every week: "We're flying coach now," Jillian jokes. The couple spent the rest of the summer getting to know each other's families and friends. "All my guy friends, their wives and girlfriends love her," Ed says. The feeling is mutual from Jillian's camp: "He came to Vancouver and my friends took him on this big hike and they were texting me going, 'You guys are such a good fit.' My friends have never said that, so it was huge." While compatible in areas like dining out (both like Mexican food), what to watch on TV (late-night movies) and money management, the couple are at odds when it comes to home essentials. Take cutlery, for example. "He made chicken but he didn't know how he was going to cut it because he didn't have a knife," Jillian says, still shocked. "You can do a lot with two forks," Ed maintains. Jillian took charge of organizing Ed's one-bedroom loft, softening the industrial-looking space with cushions, pillows, candles, lamps and "storage solutions," Jillian says, taking a gentle elbow in the ribs from Ed. "He had these really nice trays ... filled with pennies and golf balls and keys! Just random things."
While the two admit they probably won't live in Ed's former bachelor pad forever, they do feel they are off to a good start. "We definitely need more things, but that's what a gift registry is for down the road," Jillian says. Wedding bells "are definitely in the works," Ed says. "We are excited to start making plans, but we've gotten more busy since the show and we don't have a date yet." While Jillian, a restaurant designer, is interviewing with several design firms in her new hometown, she's also started thinking about finding her next fixer-upper. "I want to get a rescue dog," says Jillian, an avid animal lover. "A little guy that needs extra help."