"It's been a rough ride," Ben told host Chris Harrison about everything that's happened since the finale was taped. What went wrong? As Ben began to watch his season of the show, he witnessed the catty behavior of his new fiancée. She later apologized.
"The woman that I saw on TV isn't the Courtney that I know," he said, adding, "Those are the moments and the instances that led to Courtney and I not talking for a time while the show aired. We were essentially broken up."
Booing from AudienceCourtney, who came out separately to the sound of booing from the studio audience, was simmering with emotion. "I feel definitely responsible," she said about her behavior on the show with the other women. "It's a really hard situation living in a house with 25 women all dating the same guy. It's just a very unnatural situation to be in, and it brought out the worst in me."
And it proved to be too much for Ben to handle. As Valentine's Day came and went, the engaged couple weren't speaking. "He didn't send flowers or a card or anything," Courtney said. "It was awful. There were days where I didn't leave the house, and I just laid there and cried ... He abandoned me. I gave [him] space and I was trying to be as understanding as possible, but I needed him."
During this time apart, photos were published of Ben apparently kissing another woman. But, he says, looks can be deceiving. "On my father's grave," he swore to Chris, "I haven't kissed another woman, I haven't hooked up with another woman. I haven't cheated on Courtney." Of the photos, Ben added, "I am not kissing those women [in those photos]. It's as simple as that."
Picking Up the PiecesNow, despite uncertainty and "trust that's been lost," according to Courtney, the pair say they're trying to pick up the pieces and move forward together.
"We're engaged. We're in a good place," Ben said. "Now that the main part of the show, and all the negativity is gone, it can only get better ... The root of the problem was us not being able to be with each other and talk about these things."
To make things right between them, Ben apologized for stepping away from the relationship during firestorm that erupted over Courtney when the show began to air.
Ben said he was sorry for "not standing by you throughout this entire journey. It can be really difficult, and I messed up in that regard. As an engaged couple and as a man, I feel like I should have stayed with you the entire way as opposed to taking steps back and needing time apart. That wasn't fair to you. That was my coping mechanism, but you know me. That's not how I operate in real life, and we're about to start real life."
And before the end of their time with Chris, Ben put the Neil Lane platinum and diamond engagement ring back on her finger.
"There was never anything wrong with us," Ben said. "What's wrong was everything that surrounded us."