New Bachelor protagonist Ben Flajnik spoke with the media on Wednesday morning, but anyone expecting serious dish on the coming season, or even the rote preseason admission that “I’m in love” will be disappointed. Clearly, this is one Bachelor who is still having to adjust to the demands of celebrity.
When asked the obvious first question – whether he found love on The Bachelor – Ben was strangely noncommittal. “I’m happy with my decision in doing the show … another cathartic, therapeutic adventure for me,” he said. He implied that he couldn’t say whether or not he was happy with the way the season turned out, which likely means one of two things: he either didn’t get engaged (info ABC would certainly not want to leak), or the news that he’s engaged has been promised to a media outlet as a future exclusive. “I’m happy with the experience” was all he would admit to.
During the last season of The Bachelorette, Ben came across as low-key and casual – one reason why his flash of anger upon being rejected by Ashley Hebert came as such a surprise to viewers. If he can keep this up during the coming season, it will make for a pleasant change coming on the heels of Brad Womack’s psychobabble and Ashley’s constant tears. “I went in open, honest, ready for a new experience,” he said, calling himself “a laid back dude.”
One example of this let-it-all-hang-out attitude was seen in the trailer to the season released a week ago, in a scene where Ben and one of the bachelorettes took a nude dip in the ocean. “When a beautiful woman asks you to go skinny-dipping on the beach, you don’t say no,” he said. “A bare butt’s not the end of the world.”
Did he hesitate when asked to do the show, and was he concerned about possibly breaking someone’s heart given his own experience with Ashley? Ben said that he warned the producers that he wouldn’t be going on The Bachelor with the goal of proposing, but that he would be open to it if the sparks were there. He added that he tried to “sugarcoat” his rejections when they happened, though he said he didn’t remember any specific drama at the rose ceremonies other than the usual crying. “My heart goes out to any of the women that I said to say goodbye to,” he said.
Ben said that after leaving The Bachelorette, he was content to head back to his winemaking business and relative obscurity – though he was happy about the “novelty purchases” that resulted from the higher profile of the vineyard. He claims that he didn’t date seriously after the show, but worked through the “self-discovery” that began with Ashley.
He addressed the strange tabloid reports of the summer that had him linked with his biggest celebrity fan, Jennifer Love Hewitt. Ben said that the actress wanted to bring a few friends up to the vineyard, and afterwards “we went out to dinner and chatted about life.” But seriously getting involved with Hewitt or any actress will not be in the cards for him: “After all this is said and done, I want to go back to my life in northern California, where most people don’t know who I am – and I like it that way,” he said. “I’ve surrounded myself with down-to-earth people my entire life. I maintained the integrity that I had before this, so it doesn’t affect me much … when I’m not in Los Angeles, it goes away.”
Many men might find the prospect of dating as many as 25 women at once to be not all that bad, but Ben called The Bachelor “easily the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my entire life.” He said his major criteria for picking a woman were to find someone with a professional career who is “well-rounded, cultured, and flexible.” And the willingness to swim naked didn’t hurt either.