For all we know, he may be happily engaged right now (and for his sake, I hope he does have a sympathetic shoulder to lean on), but Bachelor Ben Flajnik is suffering from a major PR problem at the moment. You wouldn’t know it from their on-screen proclamations of Ben’s absolute perfection, and their endless tears when he sends them out the door, but the overwhelming message from Ben’s exiting bachelorettes seems to be that he’s a fool, and that they’re better off.
Yes, these are women who’ve been publicly spurned, so we should probably take what they say about Ben with a hefty grain of salt. Still, the impression I get is that, just a few months out of the Bachelor pressure cooker, Ben has left the same diluted, detached impression on the women he was dating as he leaves on me when I watch him on TV. And as for Ben’s current favorite, Courtney? According to these women, what you see on TV is what you get — but only Ben likes what he gets with that one.
Which brings us to this week’s lovely Bachelor reject and her media conference call. If anyone has reason to badmouth Ben, it’s Jennifer Fritsch, the adorable 28-year-old accountant. Last week, she shared a “perfect” one-on-one date with Ben, which closed with them dancing and kissing to a song called, ironically, “Like We Never Said Goodbye.” Then, just a week later, Jennifer struck out twice — once during a heated baseball game competing for alone time with Ben, and then again at the rose ceremony, when he dismissed her with no rose and no explanation. Maybe he was too busy reminiscing about skinny dipping with Courtney to bother?
Read on for highlights from Jennifer’s exit interview. She didn’t hold back giving both Ben and Courtney the business:
On how she felt about Ben going into the rose ceremony:
I definitely think I was on the track to falling in love with him. I wasn’t in love with him by any means at that point, but I did have a really strong connection and I felt strongly for him. Coming off of my date, I thought he felt the same and had no questions of it. Definitely in Puerto Rico, going on the group date, I knew — not winning the baseball game — that I would have to fight for time, kind of, at the cocktail party. And after we talked, I just — I almost felt like he reassured me of his feelings. I mean, not that he exactly said that, but just in our conversation and how it easy it was to have a conversation with him.
On why that conversation reassured her she’d be getting a rose:
There was nothing off. That’s why it’s just such a shocker for me to look back on it, because everything was right. It seemed like the conversation was just so easy, so natural. I thanked him for my date last week and how I loved being in kind of his environment in Puerto Rico playing baseball. That’s something that I’m athletic and I like to do. And he was like, “Great,” you know? (Laughs) And then he began to kiss me, so definitely, I walked away going “I got this in the bag,” you know? “I’m getting a rose.”
On whether she’s changed her mind since calling Ben “perfect” during Monday’s episode:
I have changed my mind for sure. I obviously left having no idea that he had gone skinny dipping with Courtney and I wondered when I saw the promo, I was thinking, “Oh my gosh. Do the other girls find out?” Because it changes things a little bit. There were nine — well, there were 10 of us there — and to think that he would go as far as skinny dip with one of them, it just, yeah. It definitely changed things for me. He was no longer perfect.
On what she liked about Ben:
I liked Ben from the get-go. I thought he was a really down to earth kind of guy and just from the conversations that we were able to have in the first couple weeks, I thought we had so much in common. Definitely from my one-on-one date, we [both] loved music. We kind of shared that passion for it and I just thought he was a really sweet guy. Getting sent home so soon, I may have changed my opinion a little bit.
On why she thinks Ben and Courtney going skinny dipping was inappropriate:
I mean, definitely cameras wouldn’t be around, is probably way more appropriate. And that’s why even though I said that, you still would have never seen it from me. But as far as it being so early, I mean maybe they are — maybe they just have such a deep connection that no one else sees yet, I don’t know. But it just bothers me at the point when there were still 10 women there and he just went along with it. He could have said, “No.” He could have said, “It’s a little too early,” but I think he kind of made his bed because whoever he does choose in the end, if it’s not Courtney, I wish him all the luck because he’d be facing a lot of questions.
Like you saw Monday night, skinny dipping, I’m okay with it. But there’s a time for it and also a place for it, and I don’t think either one of those really fit that situation. So for Ben to go for it like he did, it’s just — it does bother me and I think everyone has the right to be bothered by it as well.
On how she finally got closure from Ben after the episode had aired:
As far as him walking me out, he kind of said something to me to the effect of I was feeling a little bit more than he was for me. I didn’t really think it was a good answer because I didn’t pick up that vibe from him at all. Other than that, the only closure I’ve had was from his blog that he does every week. I thought it was a nice blog and it kind of makes sense to me and definitely helps me now.
On whether it bothered her that Ben eliminated her right after a cocktail party where he kept kissing her:
Yes, I was very frustrated because I, after the time I had with him, I had gone and done an interview and I swore up and down there was no way I was going home. I had also heard how some other people’s time — some other girls — their time went with him and so, I definitely thought there was no way. So, I had the rug pulled out from under me, for sure.
On what she thinks of Courtney and why she thinks Ben’s falling for her:
I’m not sure if it’s her personality that’s so just — she’s a little pushy — and I didn’t think that he would buy into that so easily, but it looks as though he is. My opinion of her while I was there, I didn’t associate with her. She wasn’t a person that I said “hi” to or “bye” to or anything like that. I knew she wasn’t nice, but that’s as far as I would take it until now watching, I definitely feel a little stronger that I don’t like her much. […] I don’t have one good thing to say about her.
On whether Courtney is in it “for the right reasons”:
I think she is definitely all about winning and maybe she likes Ben a little bit. And I heard someone use the term “the Ben pill” and she definitely took it. As far as whether that’s real feelings, I don’t know. She’s in a different career to where, yeah, she could come out ahead. She gets a lot of exposure and just for her to use “winning” all the time, it just makes sense that she’s there more to be seen.
On whether Emily’s warnings to Ben about Courtney could have been more effective if she brought them up earlier:
No, I don’t think anything would have been different if someone had said something earlier on. If Emily had confronted Ben the first week and said, “Courtney’s not right for you,” I don’t think it would have changed anything. And I can say that because watching now, it seems like no matter what warning he’s getting, he continually proves over and over again that she’s one of his favorites. So to me, it’s kind of a moot point whether it was brought up in Monday’s episode or if it would have been brought up the first night. It wouldn’t have changed anything.
On whether she would have tried to intervene about Courtney if she’d stayed longer:
Yeah, no. It’s not something I would have done. I obviously saw her for who she was too on the other side of things, but I would have never said anything to him. He’s going to make his choices and if he can’t see through her, then I don’t think he deserves to have anyone tell him any different.
On what The Bachelor has taught Jennifer for her next relationship:
I laugh and I say, what I’m going to do differently in my next relationship is not date a guy that is dating 24 other women. But no, I really went into this already knowing what I’m looking for because I’m a long-term commitment kind of person and I’ve dated the wrong guys for a long time. Through that, I think I started this process already knowing. Whether Ben would have been right or not have been right, I think in the end, it would have been proven. I’m definitely over him. (Laughs)
On Courtney’s tactic of using her sex appeal to snag Ben:
If that’s her tactic, then that’s her tactic. Some people use that to their advantage and some people have better qualities. I don’t think she has a much better side than her looks. So, if that’s what she has to work with, that’s what she uses.
On how she thinks Ben should be feeling, watching these episodes back:
If it was me, I’d be embarrassed because you’re actually seeing what everyone has been telling you the whole time. Definitely embarrassed, because he does kind of look like a fool.
Her advice for Ben, if he’s engaged to Courtney now:
I do think he’s caught in her web and watching the episodes from this side, that’s exactly what I — she sucked him in and there’s no escaping. […] I think that it’s an initial attraction, and it might last a few months. For the long haul, I don’t think it would work. […] If he’s with Courtney … I don’t even think I could wish him luck. My advice would probably be run for the hills.
(Image courtesy of ABC)