Ben Higgins's season of The Bachelor, which aired in 2016 (Uh, where did the time go?), solidified him as a fan favorite among Bachelor nation. His generosity, kindness, and authentic approach to love captured viewers attention, and, let's admit it: their hearts, too. So much so, that Ben is still heavily involved with the franchise today — hosting The Bachelor Live on Stage tour (pre-COVID), discussing episode recaps on his podcast with Ashley Iaconetti called Almost Famous, and making the occasional appearance on The Bachelor itself. However, Ben's got a lot more going on than just The Bachelor; he's engaged and planning a wedding with Jess Clarke, owns his own coffee company called Generous, and has a brand new book called Alone in Plain Sight.
It's needless to say that Ben keeps busy, and as part of his partnership with Campo Viejo to celebrate Galentine's Day (enter the sweepstakes here to win a personalized video from Ben himself!) POPSUGAR was able to sit down and pick his brain on life, love, The Bachelor, and so much more. From this season of The Bachelor to his Valentine's Day plans with his new fiancé; we got a mini Ben tell-all with the questions ahead, and some of his answers might surprise you!
POPSUGAR: You were on one of the more recent episodes of Matt James's season, how did the quarantine process go?
Ben Higgins: So you quarantine before and then you fly there — it's wild now. You get off the plane and there's somebody there who puts you in a very COVID-safe car where you ride an hour and a half to the resort, you get off and walk in and you don't see anybody. They hand you your key at the front desk, and usually you'd be greeted by producers and people you know and hang out and get a couple of drinks, but no, you go right up to your room and you're there for, I'm not kidding, five days straight locked in a room. Every two days you get a COVID test, and once you pass your third COVID test you're free to go on set. Yeah, I definitely did that and it's funny to watch the episode back because it's like 10 minutes of TV and I gave up five days for that, but it was worth it.
PS: You've mentioned in prior interviews that you get to speak to most of the Bachelors before their seasons begin — when you spoke with Matt, what was his biggest fear aside from never being on The Bachelor before?
BH: His fear from what I understood was that the women that came on the show wouldn't feel like it was worth it if they weren't the ones chosen — like his fear of letting people go was really weighing on him because it's the only experience in your life where you're going to break up with 20-plus people in the span of three months, and that hurts and it sucks because they do a lot to get there. So that was one fear. The second was that he wanted to make sure he represented himself well. I think when you're not familiar with the show you go onto it expecting the worst by thinking the show is going to tear you apart. And so my advice to him there was that I've been through this, if I can do this he can 100 percent do this, he's going to be fine, you know, other people have done this before him. So those were really the top few things that stood out to me.
PS: If you were The Bachelor today, what would you tell yourself? Is there anything you would go back and change?
BH: I would just say to have a little more fun. I was nervous and anxious, I tried to tell Matt that because a lot of his concerns were similar to mine. I just kind of got caught up in my own head and became a little robotic. I was always thinking about things and was super stressed out. I'd just say to have a little more fun, this is a cool experience, enjoy it a little bit more and let loose. I could never do that, I was always uptight.
PS: You were the first Bachelor to really open up and express your feelings to both of your final contestants before the final rose ceremony, but since then a few more have followed suit and said "I love you" to multiple people. How do you think breaking that standard of not really saying how you feel has changed the show?
BH: Well for one, I know I'm not the first one to feel that way. Yeah, I bet it changed the show . . . I mean, it's honest, I don't know if it's wise. I wouldn't say what I did was the wise thing to do but I do think it was how I was feeling. You kind of tell yourself up until the very end that you want to express how you're feeling, you want to be true to yourself, you want to be true to the people . . . I wish I told myself to be wise also in that communication, to know who you're saying it to and why you're saying it, and if it's helpful or if it's hurtful. I'd say that today to anybody as well. But when you're allowing yourself to stay open and date multiple people at one time, you're going to end up having feelings for multiple people. It was a big topic when I did it, I don't think it's that big of a topic anymore. It was shocking when I did it, people would argue that you can't fall in love with two people, and I would respond 'well I think you can, I mean I did, so I don't know what you want to tell me. I think you can.' But yeah, it probably has loosened it up a bit. That barrier has been broken so it's no longer a hot topic.
PS: What type of dates would you like to see more or less of on the show?
BH: Less wedding dress and tux dates . . . so weird. I had a good one, actually, Becca Tilley and I dressed up in a wedding dress and tux but we married people — we didn't do a wedding photoshoot together and it was fine. Yeah, less of that, maybe less physical combat . . . it just is weird to watch and it's either two dudes sizing each other up or two women going at each other and I don't really know if that's helpful for me when it comes to finding a partner. Usually, the lead is sitting on the sidelines the entire time so they're not even engaged in it. So less of that for sure.
PS: How much say do you get when it comes to the dates, can the lead say no to any of them?
BH: Yeah, actually I did. Here's how it works: when you're announced as the lead you go out and you meet with all of the people that are producers and they're like 'OK, write down as many dates as you can think of' so I had about 10 to 15 dates that were things like deep-sea fishing, flying in a plane, going to a vineyard . . . that kind of stuff. And then they take those dates and they try to make them happen for you, but they obviously blow them out of the water. For example, I never thought going to a vineyard meant flying in a private plane three hours south of San Diego, touching down, doing a tour, and then coming back before midnight. That's not something I would have been used to nor is it something I could even plan. So you do get a say with that kind of stuff. But there are 40 dates total by the time it's all done and there's no way you're going to come up with 40 dates. So they have a whole date team that fills the gaps or enhances everything. There was a date that they had planned . . . it was like a striptease date in Vegas, and I was like 'I don't want to do it, we've got to find something else,' and they did. I just expressed how I wasn't into that and that it wouldn't be fun for me — so yeah, you can say no.
PS: You've just come out with a book, congratulations! Would you like to share what it's about?
BH: The show isn't mentioned a lot in the book; there's about two sections where it's talked about. But I had this interview with a buddy of mine who's a producer on the show, and when I first met him he goes "I don't like you because I don't know you" and I was like, "that's a weird thing to say, it's hurtful, and you're touching on all my insecurities." So we sat down for four hours after that conversation and I walked out of it realizing he's right. I don't allow people to get to know me, and I know that about myself: I've just never put words to it. I'm a really good chameleon, I'm a really good wallflower: I can say stuff when I know it's appropriate and I can stand back and just let time pass . . . it made me feel like a fraud, honestly. . . so after the show aired I had people messaging me, writing me, saying they feel the same way and I realized I was onto something. In fact, the one thing I felt weirdest and most shameful for was the one thing that made me connect most with others. Long story short, I started journaling and got approached by a publishing company who asked me if I wanted to write a book. I said I didn't know what to write about I just have this journal, and they said perfect, and so we started turning my thoughts into a book, and really, the whole book is built on trying to make people feel less alone.
PS: You've teamed up with Campo Viejo for Galentine's Day. Does your fiancé Jess have any fun Galentine's Day plans coming up?
BH: She has Galentine's Day plans with me! It's an awesome partnership, obviously, it's a really fun day to celebrate and I think that's why my partnership with Campo Viejo is so great because their brand is about celebration — it's light and it's bright and it's fun and it's vivacious — and I kind of feel like that's what Galentine's Day should be about, is a celebration. Even for those who are single, it's still a celebration of life, love, and dating — even if you have no interest in dating — it's a celebration of where you're at in your life romantically.
PS: What are your and Jess's Valentine's Day plans?
BH: Jess and I just bought a house, and we've been redoing the house and redecorating it. The one cool thing about the house right now is that we have very little furniture. So we have two chairs that sit in front of the fireplace and they're like the only two chairs in the house, and so what I think we're going to do is pop open a bottle of Campo Viejo, we're going to sit in front of the fire, we will probably eat our favorite meal, which mine is margarita pizza and she does a gluten-free, some ridiculous cauliflower crust pizza that she likes, and we're going to drink a bottle of wine and celebrate because this is a big year for us — getting a house, having her relocate to Denver, getting married this year — and I think that's the perfect way to celebrate.
PS: How have you navigated wedding planning in such a crazy year?
BH: We really wanted to get married last year . . . the pandemic hit, and we knew we really wanted to have a wedding so we pushed it to November. So I think we're good? You know, it'd be great to still have a wedding, but it hasn't stressed us out too much because ultimately we know that no matter what, we will be married in November. It would just be ideal if people could be there as well. But she's also a really good wedding planner, both my mom and her mom have helped with the rehearsal and the wedding, so there's a good amount of support around it. But I think the most stressful part has been the consistent changes over the last year, for everybody. If our biggest issue is not knowing if we're going to have people at our wedding or not, I think we're doing OK. There's a lot of people hurting and suffering and questioning a lot more right now.
PS: Last question! Is the Bachelor Live tour going to resume?
BH: Rumor has it that yes, it's going to resume. They're waiting on Broadway — I guess that industry has to book first and once they book then I think other shows can follow suit and book theaters as well. So everything I've heard is still a positive yes, but I don't hear a lot about it right now.