It's been almost three months since Portland native Lauren Bushnell "won" ABC's The Bachelor, when Ben Higgins proposed to her in the final episode.
Since then, Bushnell got engaged and moved to Denver to be with Higgins. She is currently exploring her new city, laying low, and enjoying “just doing normal things” with her fiancé.
As the winner of ABC's sensation The Bachelor—which just finished its 20th season—Bushnell's courtship has been unique. Most women don’t receive a proposal on the same day their boo dumps his other serious girlfriend. This past season, Ben shocked viewers by saying, “I love you” to Bushnell and to second runner-up, JoJo Fletcher.
We caught up with Bushnell to chat about love, Portland, politics, and the importance of trust in an unconventional romance.
What period of your life was spent in Portland?
I was born and raised in Portland. The majority of my life has been spent in Portland—not as much my adult years, but being a flight attendant I feel like I’m always in Portland, because I can jump on a flight and go visit my parents. Even though I don’t live in Portland, I’m there at least once a month.
How has growing up in Portland shaped your outlook on life?
Everyone is pretty down to earth and just accepts everyone. The whole slogan 'Keep Portland weird'—that weirdness or whatever is mostly an acceptance of everyone and their quirks and whatever their beliefs are.
What did Ben think of Portland the first time he visited?
Ben loved it! We ate amazing food and we went to the [Multnomah] Whiskey Library, so it was right up his alley. I’m excited to get him out there this summer, because he hasn’t experienced a summer there, and in my opinion there is nowhere better to be in the summertime than the Northwest.
What are your favorite Portland restaurants and bars?
Honestly, I’m all about the food trucks. That’s where I brought Ben when we were in Portland on our date on the show, 'cause, I mean, we tried dumplings and the next thing you know we’re eating a grilled cheese sandwich, so that was really fun.
What was your motivation for going on The Bachelor?
I like my little comforts, I like my apartment, I like my privacy, so it was a little bit out of left field for those that know me. But think that’s why I wanted to do it—to stretch myself. And, of course, I wanted to possibly fall in love. But being kind of realistic about it, I was like, well, the chances of that are slim. So going into it I thought, if that doesn’t happen, I’m doing something that’s so out of my character, it will hopefully make me a better person.
If you were to go back in time and give pre-Bachelor Lauren Bushnell a piece of advice, what would it be?
I wish I would have trusted a little bit more even early on, because I was so skeptical. I just was! I think it took me a little while to trust that what I was feeling was real.
Did you end up watching your own season?
I watched most of it up until there were about four girls, so at about "Hometowns" I didn’t really watch as much. Ben and I had a conversation right after we got engaged where he laid it all out there, so I knew already what had happened. I knew everything that he had told everyone else. So I didn’t not watch because I thought I would be surprised by anything, but because I had already lived that or at least lived it through what he had told me.
And let’s be honest—the best part of the show was in the beginning when the crazies are still there.
It’s fun because there are women I hadn’t seen for a few weeks and we would watch [the show] and remember, like, oh that was so fun when we did that. And then as feelings progressed, and towards the end when Ben really did care about more than one person, I just felt like for me, I didn’t need to watch it. Especially when we were doing so good and enjoying being engaged. I don’t want to taint that, or mess that up or add a conflict that we’ve already dealt with … it just didn’t make sense.
How did you look so glowy and sparkly on every show?
Wait, I feel like that was part of the reason I didn’t watch it either, because I would watch myself and be like, Oh my gosh, Lauren, why did you wear that? Or, Ew, my hair was not good in Jamaica or the Bahamas. It just does not do well in humidity. I mean, maybe because I was in love I was glowing? I don’t know, but thank you!
It's not a show usually associated with any feminist impetus, but do you feel like The Bachelor is empowering to women?
I think it’s empowering to both parties. I don’t think it’s like men or women. Just as much as Ben makes the decision as to who he wants to spend his life with, every single woman there was also empowered to make that decision, like, do I want to spend my life with Ben? So yeah, I do, I think it’s empowering to both men and women, and obviously being a female, I felt very empowered.
Is there a candidate you are excited about this year?
Honestly, I haven’t really been following too much. I can’t say that there’s one person that I’m super excited by. Politics stress me out a little bit. I don’t affiliate myself with a particular person, or candidate or party, I just like to hear till the end exactly what each person stands for, and I don’t know if that’s a politically correct answer, but that’s actually how I feel.
Is there a piece of advice you would give to a woman looking for love?
Especially when I was younger, I wanted so badly for that other person to like me, and I kind of forgot that it’s not a one-way street, it’s a two-way street. If one way doesn’t work out, if one person doesn’t like the other, that’s okay, it’s just not meant to be. As clichéd as that sounds, that’s how I went into the show. Like, yes, I want Ben to like me, of course, but I also have to really like him back. It’s not all about making this man like me.