Renee Oteri, 32, is the last single mom standing on The Bachelor. Although the existence of her son Ben, 8, initially kept Juan Pablo from smooching the Sarasota, Fla., native, the real estate agent now feels that their mutual parenting experience helps them "relate on a whole different level" than the babes without babies.
She elaborated on their connection, as well as on her competition, Motion-In-The-Oceangate, and Sharleen's mixed emotions during a recent press call.
As you got to know him, what were your impressions of Juan Pablo? I knew not a whole lot about him. I didn't stalk him on Facebook or Instagram before I left. He's a great guy with a great personality. He's super funny, outgoing and naturally good with people and kids. He's very emotional and sincere. I'd never seen a man cry before. It was heartbreaking. He's a great dad and to me that is a super attractive trait.
Since the show started airing, there have been various negative reports about him. Many even question if he is really there to find a wife. People are going to write and say things that may or may not be true, but you really do get to know each other really well and I have nothing negative to say. He's a class act. I still feel the same as I did the moment I met him. Our relationship gets stronger and stronger. I truly believe that he wants to get married and wants more kids. Watching it he does seem wishy-washy but deep down I know he wants a family. Each girl is bringing out something different in him. When he's with me, we are on the family level. That's what we talk about.
Did you both being parents help the relationship grow? How do you think he'd be with your son? I've never dated a single parent before so it's huge. We can connect on a whole different level. When you have kids, that's what you talk about and conversation between him and I flowed naturally. You can just tell he's a great dad and would be great with my son. He has Camila and he’s been through that.
People have criticized his seeming inability to have conversations. Did you find that to be the case? Our conversations were always pretty deep. We definitely didn't have conversations like 'Hey, how's the weather? What sports do you like to play?' It was definitely more like 'Are we on the same page? Do we want to get married? Do we want more kids?' It was serious but that happened naturally.
It sure seems like he’d rather makeout with some ladies than talk to them. It does. But every relationship is different and the chemistry is not going to be the same either. He seemed super hot and heavy for some girls and for others it was more 'Let’s take things at a slower pace.' That's normal. He is more cautious at times, but in the heat of the moment sometimes you just let it go. He sometimes acts on an emotional high or low — and everyone does this. We're human. I don't think he's doing anything wrong or using Camila as an excuse.
He famously withheld "besitos" from you because you're a mom. How'd you feel given how quick he was with others? But I understand his reasons and respect him for that, but watching it back it's like, 'Uh, that kind of stinks. You said no to me and two minutes later you're making out with Clare.' The only thing I wish he did was communicate with me up front about the whole no kissing thing. Had I known that, I would have just done it myself instead of waiting so long. Honestly, I didn't realize it was about not making Ben mad. I thought it was about me. I didn't think he was interested. Am I not kissable? What's going on? I was relieved [that] as soon as I gave him the go-ahead, he planted one on me.
Did you feel the same hesitation due to Ben? No, that was Juan Pablo's personal opinion. I made it very clear in Vietnam that I talked to my son before I left and he knew what I was doing. Did he understand it? No, but I was honest with him. We talk about everything. He's not in a bubble somewhere. I want my son to see love. I wouldn't be ashamed for him to see me kiss him.
Is he watching? We watched Desiree's season together and loved every moment. But no he's too busy, too cool to watch mom on TV.
At this point in the season, how confident were you that you'd be the last girl standing? It's hard because when you're together and on one-on-one dates, you feel like this could be it. in the moment it totally felt real. But watching, it appears that he doesn't seem as interested in me as he does in Clare, Nikki and other girls. It's a totally different style of dating. It's a roller coaster. You go up and down with your emotions all the time. You have to stay focused and hang on to your moments and memories with him and [look to] what's in the future. Some days you feel super confidant and other days you just don't.
Who is your biggest competition? They are all amazing women but I'd say Clare. Just the way he looks at her. But he laughs a lot with Chelsea. But at this point he's got something for everyone.
Clare vehemently denied that they did more than kiss in the ocean. But with so much blowback that hardly seems possible. Thoughts? That was tough to watch. I felt really bad for Clare. He didn't take responsibility and he pushed it on Clare. She was hurt by that. I wish he would have been like, 'Hey, we did what we did' — whatever that was I don't know — 'We both participated. We both made that decision. Let's just drop it.' But instead it got really blown up and they were still talking about it in New Zealand. When I started this journey, I wanted to be sure to form my own opinions and not listen to gossip.
Thoughts on Sharleen’s questioning? It's frustrating to see it because other people are going home that truly like him and want to be there. I had no idea she was so confused this whole time. I get it though. She wants to give it a fair shot. I like that she is sticking around to be 100 percent. It would be awful to leave with regret.
If he doesn’t choose you, would you consider being the Bachelorette if asked? I do want to find love. I do want to get married. I want to have more kids. That's my ultimate goal so obviously I'm hoping that it does work out for me. If it doesn't end in my favor? I'm trying not to think too far ahead of that.