Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell announced their split last Monday (May 15) after getting engaged on the ABC reality dating show last year. The breakup left their rabid followers, Bachelor Nation, saddened and shocked, and even sparked rumors of a rebound relationship with Ashley Iaconetti after the two were spotted at a Bryan Adams concert in L.A. Saturday night.
On Monday morning, Higgins called On Air with Ryan Seacrest and answered all the burning questions following the breakup, from their surprising separation and current relationship status, to those Iaconetti rumors and if he’s ready to move on anytime soon.
Higgins, 29, called his separation from Bushnell, 27, amicable and said they plan to remain respectful and supportive friends in the aftermath. "I don't want to speak for Lauren on any of this, but I think both of us for so long thought this was the right thing and thought this was going to be something," he told Seacrest. "[We're] extremely lucky we met on this crazy show that brought us together. [We thought] we'd be spending life together, so yeah, it did come as a shock."
He added, "You don't plan on ever breaking up, that's not why you enter a relationship. Unfortunately that's what happened."
Higgins and Bushnell's split further entertains the "The Bachelor Curse," which predicts that all Bachelor engagements will not make it to hear wedding bells (so far the record is 1-for-21, with Sean Lowe being the only Bachelor to marry his final pick so far). On everyone's negative views of Bachelor relationships and low expectations for a marriage to actually follow through, Higgins said it definitely affected their romance.
"I think there's a lot of pressure coming on this show. I've told any Bachelor/Bachelorette that came after me, just try to stay yourself but it's really difficult," he said. "You have a lot of people looking over your shoulder. There's a ton of criticism and judgement no matter what you do -- good or bad -- or if you have the most pure heart or not. People are going to take it the wrong way and honestly, Lauren and I both agreed it does pull on you a lot and it isn't exactly healthy for a foundation for a relationship."
After their separation announcement, Higgins was spotted with Iaconetti -- an alum on Chris Soules' season -- at the Greek Theater over the weekend, which naturally sparked dating rumors. To clear up the confusion, Higgins said they are just friends who are tag-teaming on their new weekly iHeartRadio podcast, Almost Famous.
"[Ashley and I] started planning this podcast months ago way before any of this [separation news] happened," Higgins said, setting the record straight. "Our podcast airs tomorrow and it's not just going to be Bachelor and Bachelorette-focused. It's going to be a lot of things. It's going to kind of be a lifestyle podcast that just has a lot of fun, great interviews and we're doing it with iHeart."
On transitioning into a new gig post-breakup, Higgins said it's difficult but he needs to stay focused and follow through on his latest commitment. "It's not easy, it hasn't been easy. I don't know how to do this well," Higgins admitted. "This isn't the happiest time of my life, but Lauren and I both agreed you just got to continue to move forward. That's the only option."
When asked who will be the first to move on to another relationship, Higgins revealed it won't be him, but when the time comes, it's going to be hard for the other person to see. "I'm not anywhere close to that and I don't think she is either. I would say that whenever that happens, I don't think either of us will find it easy but I get it, that's life."
As for the 4.25-carat Art Deco-style diamond engagement ring Higgins gave to Bushnell, it must now go back to ABC: "I believe that we'll have to give that back. Probably soon, I don't know when or how ... They give you this ring, but obviously if you don't make it, it makes sense that you have to give it back."