Ben Higgins re-lived his quest to find love on “The Bachelor” Monday night in “The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons -- Ever!” and nothing was off limits when it came to addressing one of the most dramatic endings ever in Bachelor history.
“I had my hand on my forehead peeking through my fingers the whole time,” Higgins told “Good Morning America.” “I forget a lot of that experience because life has moved so fast since then and there’s been a lot of changes. Some of the small interactions, limo entrances I had forgotten or it had sparked memories. A lot of it I was embarrassed by and then I also was reliving one of the coolest moments of my life.”
“It was hard watching it back -- mostly because I remember 26-year-old me and how much I felt the world was falling in on me. And then how much these women would be hurt,” said Higgins who ultimately proposed to Bushnell. However, the two called it quits in 2017.
“We both wanted to make it work,” he said. “But sometimes relationships end not because of any massive problem or issue -- but just because two people have grown apart.”
While it was hard for Higgins to re-watch his season back, he says there are no hard feelings for Bushnell or those memories from that time in his life.
“There is an appreciation of that relationship and what it taught me and hopefully what it taught her,” said Higgins. “I think I am a better man for it.”
Now, Higgins has a new leading lady, his fiancee Jessica Clark, who he proposed to in March.
“It’s been freeing for me,” he said about his fiancee. “She’s caring, supportive -- she’s empathetic towards my faults and weaknesses and love me through them. I don’t know how, but did and I can’t be more grateful.”
“I wish the world could know her more than they know me because she is something special,” he added.
Although Higgins said Clark likely won’t be watching his season of “The Bachelor,” millions of Americans tuned in Monday night for Olivia Caridi, who Bachelor fans painted as a villain during that time for clashing with fellow contestants.
Higgins eventually sent her home during a two-on-one date and abandoned her on an island as Higgins sailed away.
“I was just mortified and hurt and all these girls are saying this and that about me, and I realized this is going to be a really hard couple of months, or however long it airs,” Caridi told “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison during Monday night’s episode.
“There was so much pain associated with it. I felt terrible that I had hurt people. I never wanted to, but obviously it was clear that I did, and so that hurt,” she added. “And seeing what people really thought of me and what people were saying, that was really hard. I’m sure a lot of it was deserved, but I did feel like some of it was a little ruthless and it affected me.”
When the season finally aired, Caridi said it affected her mentally.
“I was ashamed of myself, embarrassed, I didn’t want to be out in public,” she said.
Higgins spoke out about Caridi on “The Bachelor” and after re-watching his season, said it brought him “shame and guilt.”
“I had just recently heard this from Olivia that it was hurtful for her,” he said. “For her to come on last night took a lot of courage, but it hurts me deeply for me, I feel like I was responsible for helping to cultivate an environment and a place for these women to thrive and I don’t know if I didn’t do that for Olivia.”
“I hope her appearing on the show allows her to take that weight lifted off, that breath of fresh air so she can move on in life and know how terrific, beautiful and incredible she is … it was a big deal and I’m glad she came.”
Higgins added, “I think we should be apologizing to Olivia, the women on my season, myself, the fans -- to say, hey we were quick to push you aside -- and I want to be quick to bring you back into my life and say I’m sorry.”
While it’s been four years since Higgins appeared on “The Bachelor,” Matt James is now taking the helm as the franchise’s first Black Bachelor and Higgins is so glad he’s filing the role next season.
“I’m just glad ‘The Bachelor’ is attempting and trying to bring diversity to the show,” he said. “I think this is a great thing, I think this is a great step -- I hope there’s more steps to come and more drastic steps to come. I hope Matt James is the start to a long line of people who are Black, and more people who are of color, who are leads on the show.”