Monday night was the start of the dating games when the new season of “The Bachelor” premiered with low-key Ben Flajnik as the newest contestant searching for love. Ben was introduced to 25 gorgeous gals — the word lady didn’t apply to all of them — including one who brought her Grandma Sheryl and another who rode in on a horse and wound up with the First Impression Rose as a result.
The night was still young when Monica put the moves on fellow contestant Blakeley — why would they want to win Ben’s heart if they prefer girls? — and Jenna go into a verbal battle with Monica. So what’s a guy to do?
In this one-on-one interview with the newest “Bachelor,” we talk to Ben to get his take on the first night’s success or failure and try to discover if he really found love.
How nervous were you watching yourself on the season premiere? Were there any interesting moments/interactions you could tell us about that didn’t end up on the episode?
I wasn’t nervous, first of all. I was happy with the way I navigated the entire experience. What’s done is done. All you can do is prepare yourself and laugh in the moments that you find to be embarrassing. The Blakeley/Monica thing with the two girls liking each other that was news to me. I watched that with the rest of America.
Do you think that Monica’s moves on Blakeley was just a ploy to get attention?
Attention from who? I didn’t see that at all that evening. The only way they are staying on the show is if they give me attention.
Among the 18 girls that you picked, there were a few choices that surprised us (e.g. Monica, Jenna). Was there pressure from the producers to hold onto certain controversial contestants to keep the show lively?
That is the thing. People get so caught up in my picks and the producers picks, and things like that, but the truth of the matter is there are one million different personalities there. Any way you cut it, it is going to be entertaining.
Now that you’ve been able to see what went behind the scenes with Jenna, what did you think of her behavior?
I had a good conversation early on with Jenna before she started to self-destruct. All that self-destruction, I didn’t see until the very end when she started crying. She seemed okay in the first place. I don’t know.
Before you pick the 18 women, did you sit down with Chris Harrison or anybody and go over which women you were going to choose?
Ultimately, it is up to me who I want to keep around. I run things by production. Chris and I didn’t sit down until later in the filming. You need someone when the decisions become more difficult. That first night is such a whirlwind, it is tough enough to navigate. You get a pretty good idea and a good sense of who you want to keep around.
You seem like a no-drama kind of guy. Does it turn you off knowing now there was a lot of in-fighting and crying going on during the season?
I am a pretty drama-free dude and I like to avoid it, and I did. I didn’t see a lot of the stuff that goes on. Of course, I knew that some of the women were going to be not nice to each other and catty, but it didn’t really affect me that much, so it’s hard to have an opinion. I went about my business, made my decisions, and avoided all that. The drama kind of eluded me.
With two seasons under your belt, what would you say is the best relationship lesson you learned?
If there is any advice I can give to anyone, it would be to practice patience even more than you normally would. You need to take a deep breath when things start to bother you because you never know if it is circumstantial or if it is that person. You need a little bit of time to figure it out.
Having been on the other side of it, what are you going to do differently than Ashley did?
It’s hard to know what Ashley did. I know she fell for Bentley early on. That is something I didn’t plan on doing and didn’t do. I remained opened. All of my relationships were treated separately. I didn’t jump head first into one thing and forget about the rest. I wanted to make sure I was exhausting all options and really keeping my eyes open.
I know you can’t say if you found love, but can you tell us if you are happy with the results of the season?
I am happy that I decided to become “The Bachelor.” I am happy with the experience. I can’t tell you if I am happy and in love, unfortunately.
Can you tell reveal any of the locations that you went on? Any overseas trips?
We head to Sonoma, my hometown; San Francisco, where I live, Park City, Panama, and Switzerland, so there are a lot of beautiful spots.
Do you have a favorite?
They were all completely different. They were all great.
“The Bachelor” returns for its second episode on Monday, January 9, at 8 p.m. on ABC.