Most couples on “The Bachelor” don’t make it — they typically break off shortly after the finale’s engagement. But the majority of couples from “The Bachelorette” are still together. Bachelor Nation expert Amy Kaufman says she thinks this is because the show’s female leads seem to be more practical in their picks and better able to determine whether a match will work not just when the cameras are rolling but in real life.
Even when it does work out, that transition to real life isn’t easy.
JoJo Fletcher, who was the lead in the 2016 season of “The Bachelorette,” and her fiance, Jordan Rodgers — who are still together — have been filming a web series called “Engaged,” which gives a behind-the-scenes sense of how they fell in love on the reality show, and how they have sometimes struggled to stay together since then. Sure, this web series is still a prettied-up version of reality, and they’re still in front of a camera. But it feels more candid than the highly produced “reality show” where the pair first met.
1. Jordan did not watch JoJo’s season of “The Bachelor.”
Before “The Bachelorette,” JoJo was runner-up on Ben Higgins’s 2016 season of “The Bachelor,” and she was devastated when he dumped her. JoJo was ready to get engaged to Ben, and she reflects now on how, if that had happened, she might never have met Jordan. “Would I still be with him?” JoJo asks herself. “Would I not even know that you were out there?” (Fittingly with “Bachelor” tradition, Ben and his final pick, Lauren Bushnell, are no longer together.) She wasn’t expecting to be the Bachelorette, she says, until she got the call from ABC.
Meanwhile, Jordan had not been watching JoJo’s season, he says. He had only seen an episode or two, and he had not seen her breakup with Ben. When he got a call from producers just days before JoJo’s season started filming, asking if he was single, he didn’t know who the Bachelorette would be. Jordan agreed to do the show and then found out it would be JoJo — and he was excited. “They announced you, and I was like, yes! Let’s go!”
2. JoJo was doubtful of Jordan from the beginning.
JoJo had seen pictures of Jordan in tabloids, she said, and was hoping he would be part of the cast. “I felt like I knew you,” JoJo says of first meeting Jordan. (Jordan had played professional football briefly and is now a sports commentator. His brother, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, is the NFL’s highest-paid player.) But she also couldn’t tell how he felt about her! “I was always very doubtful of him from the beginning,” JoJo says.
Jordan says he waited to make sure he really liked JoJo — and then waited again when he realized he loved her — before confessing those feelings, because he wanted to make sure they were real. “I wanted to sleep on it,” Jordan says now. “If I woke up the next morning and I still felt that way, then to me, I was like, ‘Okay that might be real.’ “
Jordan says this withholding resulted in his and JoJo having so many conversations where she said to him: “I can’t tell if you really like me?” Meanwhile, all these other guys on the show were effusively pouring out their feelings for her! On their first one-on-one date in Uruguay, Jordan says he almost said “I love you” — instead he said: “There’s something I want to tell you, but I’m gonna wait.” He ended up waiting a few more weeks to say those three little words. And once he did …
3. JoJo tried to give Jordan a sign that she felt the same way — but Jordan totally missed it.
“Do you guys know one, two, three?” JoJo asks web series viewers, squeezing Jordan’s hand three times. She thought this was the universal sign for “I love you,” but apparently it’s not well-known enough. On “The Bachelorette,” it was her subtle way of saying, “I love you, too,” in response to Jordan’s verbal confessions of love. As Bachelor Nation viewers know, the lead isn’t supposed to say “I love you” until the show’s final moments. (Although, yes, last season’s Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. broke that “rule,” as did Ben in JoJo’s season of “The Bachelor.”) But Jordan didn’t understand the hand squeeze! And JoJo wondered: “Is this guy dumb?” He had no idea.
4. Jordan explains why he didn’t ask JoJo’s dad for her hand in marriage right away.
This moment in the show is often fraught: There are two guys left, and they’re both expected to ask the Bachelorette’s father for his blessing to propose to his daughter. But when Jordan met JoJo’s father, Joe, he didn’t make that ask. Why? Jordan recalls that he told Joe: “ ‘I’m so in love with your daughter. I feel like [marriage] is in the cards for us someday.’ ” But he didn’t ask because, Jordan says, “I didn’t feel comfortable asking at that point. I wanted her to have a chance to sit down with dad and tell him: ‘Here’s how I’m feeling. I really do like this guy, or I don’t.’ ”
JoJo’s parents had already left Thailand (where JoJo’s finale took place) and Jordan told the producers he was ready to call her parents. The producers told Jordan that he missed his chance. But Jordan pushed back and made the call, her parents’ blessing was given — and Jordan did propose on the final day. Still, JoJo didn’t know until that final moment that he was ready. “I knew I wanted to be with Jordan,” JoJo remembers. “But I was very scared that maybe he wasn’t there with me.”
5. After the show, JoJo and Jordan felt pressured to appear perfectly happy in public.
After the finale, JoJo and Jordan went straight to Nashville to pack up Jordan’s things so he could move to Dallas, where JoJo lived. And the couple found themselves isolated and pressured to look happy all the time, otherwise strangers might speculate about the fate of their relationship. That meant: They felt they couldn’t have any small disagreement, even in a grocery store “like every couple has,” Jordan says, because such moments could end up in a tabloid as rumors that maybe they weren’t doing well.
One rumor was that Jordan was on Raya, the celebrity dating app, while he and JoJo were engaged. He wasn’t, he says, adding that the profile was fake. But such reports did strain their relationship. “It was about a year after getting engaged that we felt like we turned the corner and we felt like we were just starting to have a relationship,” Jordan recalls.
6. Jordan’s been to therapy — and he encourages other guys to seek help if they need it.
Every so often, the men in Bachelor Nation extol the virtues of seeing a therapist. On this summer’s season of “Bachelor in Paradise,” Kevin Wendt talked openly about seeing a therapist. On Rachel Lindsay’s 2017 season of “The Bachelorette,” Peter Krause and Rachel both spoke about seeing a therapist while healing from a breakup and commentators hailed the moment as “one of the most important things the show has ever done.”
Now, on the web series, Jordan makes a direct appeal to the men watching to consider seeking outside help in their relationships. “I’m not afraid to say, I went and spoke to a therapist because I needed a non-biased voice to talk to, bounce things off and really just learn about myself. Never feel like you’re too macho or too much of a man to just say, ‘You know what? I need to talk to somebody that can just listen.’ ”