It’s a story as old as time: Boy meets girl on reality TV show, gets dumped and sent home, comes back to star on his own show, meets another girl, gets engaged, and gives birth to a Bachelor spin-off. The Warsaw, Indiana native shares his thoughts on life with fiancée Lauren Bushnell—on camera and off —as Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After wraps up this month on Freeform.
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL RUBINO
What can fans of The Bachelor expect from the new show?
The whole premise or purpose is to highlight aspects of Lauren’s and my life that we get asked about all of the time. When you come off a show like The Bachelor, you don’t realize how many questions you’re going to get asked. And then there are the crazy things.
What are some of those weirder by-products of fame?
We’ve had people drive by our house and take pictures of Lauren and me doing yardwork. We get emails from people suggesting different ways that we should live our life—stuff like, I shouldn’t take pictures with fans because that just must devastate Lauren or ruin her life. People seem to really want to involve themselves in our life. But that’s okay—it’s the place where we’ve put ourselves. But it is weird, and you don’t really expect it—even though you’ve signed up for it.
Have you guys set a wedding date yet?
No. Both of us are excited to get married, but, honestly, life is moving at a million miles per hour right now. We want to take a step back and just enjoy being in a relationship before we do these huge life things.
And that’s probably really tough to do when the camera is rolling all of the time.
The one really good part about being on The Bachelor is that you do get used to being on camera. So, we don’t get nervous, we don’t have to fake it. On the new show, Lauren and I can operate as who we are as people; but, you’re right, being on camera does take away some elements of just dating. It’s not even necessarily the camera; it’s that you’re constantly around a bunch of other people. We eventually want to take some time off from all of that and build our relationship even stronger.
Does it then become strange to have a relationship when the camera is off?
That’s a good question, and it’s hard to say. It’s been weeks since we’ve gone on a date without other people following us around. What it would be like—the closeness of just the two of us—you just kind of forget about it after a while.
You’ve not been shy about letting people know that you’re a man of faith. So, when you’re on a show like The Bachelor, which has some moral ambiguity built into it, how do you maintain your integrity?
It could very easily become an immoral situation, if, for example, the Bachelor or Bachelorette takes it upon himself or herself to hook up with as many people as possible. I continue to keep my morals, my beliefs, my values as close to me as possible, even when I’ve been in situations where those have been tested. I’m a Christian, I believe in Jesus, and even Jesus was tested at great lengths. And he put himself in those situations, and had the values and foundation to come out of it a better person. There were times when I prayed and said, “Hey God, I hope this is worth it.” I have to believe he blessed it, because I came out of this with Lauren.
How does a guy even prepare to date on TV?
There isn’t a way to do that, and if there were, that would be weird. I don’t know what that would be or what it would look like. I went into it like this: I have a great family and great friends, and I wanted to keep my roots and not change myself. And I figured that if I were able to do that, no matter how it ended, it would be a good thing. It goes back to the moral question you asked. All these women signed up. I signed up. We knew what we were getting into. I knew that if we went through the process with respect and purpose, it would ultimately be a good thing. And that’s the only way I prepared myself.
There haven’t been a ton of Hoosiers on tentpole reality shows. Why? Is there something about the Hoosier character that doesn’t translate to that format?
Hoosiers are about loyalty. They are about hard work. They’re about simplicity, oftentimes. I don’t think Hoosiers seek attention. Those are the characteristics that I think I brought to the show, and ones that ultimately made me successful on The Bachelor. I didn’t do it for fame. I didn’t do it for fortune. I did it in the hopes of meeting someone special through this really weird process.