Breakups, breakdowns and a Bachelor baby -- 2018 was a big year for our favorite dating franchise!
With Bachelor Winter Games thrown into the mix this year, our Bachelor show total was upped to four, and the drama was through the roof! This year marked a few firsts for the franchise (we had international contestants, the shortest Bachelor engagement of all time and the first Bachelor to propose twice in one season), as well as unfortunate repeat offenders (can we go a year without a social media scandal? Or a big split?), but there's just something about The Bachelor that keeps earning our roses.
So, cheers to another great year of drama -- scroll down to relive 2018's biggest Bachelor moments.
Ben Higgins Has a Total Meltdown on Bachelor Winter Games
We were surprised to see Ben Higgins on the cast list for The Bachelor's newest venture, Winter Games, considering his breakup from fiancee Lauren Bushnell less than a year earlier, but he insisted to ET before heading off to Vermont that he was ready to find love again. As he found out after walking through the door, however, that just wasn't the case. Just three episodes into the series, Higgins sat down for an emotional conversation with host Chris Harrison, where he broke down in tears, realizing that he wasn't ready to move on.
"To try to engage in relationships here, and know that the last time I did this, it was one of the best moments of my life... my fear is not entering into a relationship. My fear is not pursuing somebody. My fear is that if I were to be broken again, I'm not full enough right now to recover from that," Ben told Harrison, before tearfully apologizing to the rest of the cast for bringing "ghosts" with him to Winter Games and heading out the door.
Clare Crawley and Benoit Beausejour-Savard Get Engaged ... and Then Break Up Weeks Later
Clare Crawley was one of the undeniable stars of Bachelor Winter Games, and we were so, so excited for her when, on the reunion show, she revealed that she had rekindled her romance with Benoit Beausejour-Savard after he left the show in tears. He proposed on the reunion show in February, much to everyone's surprise, but they split less than two months later. It was the shortest engagement in Bachelor franchise history.
"We understand a lot of you have been asking about our relationship since the show, and we wanted to thank you all for the love and respect as we navigated it in real life off camera. We do understand, however, having a public engagement on TV kind of changes that. It's with a heavy heart that we have mutually decided to end our relationship," they said in a joint statement at the time. Beausejour-Savard went on to join Bachelor in Paradise, while Crawley appears to be happily living her life off-camera.
Arie Luyendyk Jr. Brutally Blindsides Becca Kufrin in Unedited Breakup
Once upon a time, Arie Luyendyk Jr. proposed to Becca Kufrin on the season finale of The Bachelor. Then he decided he made a mistake. The last season finale of the showreally might have been the most dramatic ever, as viewers watched Luyendyk get down on one knee, only to blindside Kufrin weeks later on a "happy couple weekend," revealing that he wanted to pursue a relationship with his runner-up, Lauren Burnham.
While Kufrin called the footage "brutal" to watch back, Luyendyk said he wanted the breakup to be filmed to increase Kufrin's chances of becoming The Bachelorette. He also said that despite not watching the episode, he felt the unedited footage was "unfair" to him. But ABC exec Robert Mills told ET that Luyendyk "of course" could have broken up with Kufrin off-camera. "You can't force somebody into doing something," he noted.
"I didn't come here to set any records. I just want a happy ending," he told ET the next morning, revealing that he has no regrets about how things played out. "I think this brought me here with her, and this is why I came on the show, to meet someone like her, and it's made it all worth it."
By May, Luyendyk and Burnham's wedding planning was full steam ahead, and they announced on The View, just days before Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette kicked off, that they would be tying the knot in Maui, Hawaii, on Jan. 12.
In an interview with ET, Kufrin confirmed that Luyendyk and Burnham's wedding date is "probably" about one year from the day that she and Luyendyk broke up. However, she insisted "it doesn't bother me." "I just want to do me, and I'm genuinely happy for them because everything played out for a reason and it happened for a reason to launch me now into this position to meet all these crazy, great guys, and to truly find love again," she explained.
And despite rumors that Luyendyk and Burnham weren't on good terms with The Bachelor, Harrison exclusively revealed to ET that he will be officiating the pair's ceremony.
Just days after Kufrin's Bachelorette season premiered, scandal erupted when it was discovered that one of her frontrunners, Garrett Yrigoyen, had "liked" offensive posts on Instagram, which mocked immigrants, transgender people, feminists and school shooting survivors. Kufrin told ET at the time that she wanted viewers to remain "open to everyone," and the next day, Yrigoyen issued an apology on a new Instagram account, confirming that he did, indeed, like the posts.
Yrigoyen said the posts were not "a true reflection of me and my morals," and in an interview with reporters after his engagement to Kufrin on her Bachelorette finale, he clarified his views on some of the topics. "I'm just open-minded to everybody," he said in response to the anti-transgender memes he liked, noting that he grew up in a very welcoming family. "I'm open and accepting to everybody."
As for the meme he liked that called David Hogg and other Parkland shooting survivors crisis actors, he said: "I don't believe David Hogg is a crisis actor. No, I don't."
Halfway through Kufrin's season, her relationship with contestant Colton Underwood started to pick up steam, and during a romantic one-on-one date, he revealed that he was a virgin. Kufrin's reaction to the announcement -- she was just getting up to use the restroom! -- made headlines after the episode, while Underwood's virginity remained a topic for weeks to come.
On the show's Men Tell All special, Underwood broke down over "disrespectful" commentary regarding his virginity and dove deeper into the reasons why he was a virgin, explaining that he just hadn't found the right person yet.
"It sounds a little cheesy. I'm waiting for someone to match my intensity, someone that's going to be into me as much as I am into them, somebody that I am so madly in love with and that I can share that special moment with. That's what I'm waiting for and that's what I'm looking forward to," he told ET at the time -- though Harrison recently told ET that there are additional reasons behind Underwood's virginity that will come to light on his upcoming season of The Bachelor.
Underwood's virginity wasn't the only thing that had people talking, however. At the start of Kufrin's Bachelorette season, he admitted to previously having a fling with one of her friends, and fellow Bachelor alum Tia Booth. Both he and Booth told Kufrin that it was all in the past, but just after Underwood's hometown date, Booth came forward and admitted to Kufrin that she still wasn't over him. Kufrin ended up sending Underwood home that rose ceremony.
Bachelor Nation couldn't have been happier for Iaconetti as she appeared to find love with Canadian Kevin Wendt on Bachelor Winter Games. However, it was just weeks after the show's finale that they decided to go their separate ways, and a few weeks after that, she revealed she was dating Jared Haibon. A few weeks after that (there's a trend here), they got engaged during a June visit to the Bachelor in Paradise set in Mexico -- where Wendt was a contestant.
"There hasn't been a difference in our relationship, which is pretty cool but, you know, I just fall in love with her more and more every day," Haibon told ET just after their engagement. "We just got engaged, so I think we're just soaking that in right now and really enjoying our time together."
“Jared came out with his feelings, and he kissed me in the airport,” she said. “We had mentioned this before, I admitted that I was dating Kevin and Jared kissed me. That is true. And whether you call that cheating, that is up to you, by most definitions it is. It was just one of those moments of passion. He pulled me in and I kissed him back, yes, but I never kissed him again until Kevin and I broke up.”
Iaconetti did, however, thank Wendt for helping her "grow so much" and wished him the best with his love life. He's now dating fellow Paradise alum Astrid Loch.
Before Paradise came to a close, the Bachelor gods revealed our next franchise lead: Underwood! Though fans were divided over the decision -- with some questioning his readiness to find love after Kufrin and Booth, and others just preferring it be another Bachelorette favorite, like Jason Tartick or Blake Horstmann -- the 26-year-old former NFL player had "zero hesitations" about accepting the gig.
"There probably would've been a little hesitation if I didn't do Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise before, because it finally allowed me to take a step back from the situation and see what I've learned and how I've grown," he told ET at his first official Bachelor photo shoot, adding that he's really "come into my own." "I'm not perfect," he added. "I'm just focused on finding my wife and being here and living in the moment."
And after the season finished filming, Harrison reaffirmed that Underwood was the right choice. "I just think there were so many more layers and a dynamic set to this season," he told ET. "It was a lot of fun to dive into."
Jordan Kimball and Jenna Cooper's Cheating Scandal Takes Flight
A week after our new Bachelor was announced, Bachelor in Paradise aired its season five finale, with Jordan Kimball and Jenna Cooper ending the show with an engagement, with wedding plans on the way. It was just hours before the season five finale aired, however, that a Reality Steve report claimed Cooper had not been faithful to Kimball, posting screenshots of alleged texts between her and another man. The couple quickly ended things, with sources telling ET at the time that Kimball was "disgusted" by the allegations. Cooper maintained her innocence, and later, after a "forensic" investigation into the situation, appeared to accuse Kimball of fabricating the text messages through her lawyer.
In October, Kimball spoke out to ET, saying he "100 percent did not fabricate" the messages. Reality Steve also stood by his reporting.
"It's been a really tough time," Kimball told ET. "I will never jeopardize having my character questioned by someone who I fall for. I need to take more time in the future and not fall in love after a few weeks. But then again, people will only show you as much as they're willing to let you see."
Though Kimball and Cooper were together for a few months before going their separate ways, Bachelor Nation was rocked when Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Boothannounced their split after more than three years together in November. They got engaged on season 11 of The Bachelorette in 2015, making them the longest-running engaged pair to come from the series.
“To be honest, I thought we would choose the road where we would end up together,” Bristowe confessed on her podcast, Off the Vine, weeks later. “I just never took our commitment or being engaged, lightly at all. I had the mindset of doing whatever it took to make it work.”
“There were some important fundamental values that weren’t lining up,” she continued, adding that there were also “some things we’d probably never see eye to eye on." "We were left with no choice but to be honest with ourselves and each other."
The year ended with a pleasant surprise, however, as Luyendyk and Burnham revealed in mid-November that they're expecting their first child together, just months before they're set to tie the knot. The pair already knows whether they're having a boy or girl, and have narrowed down their list of baby names. "No Arie or Ariel or Aria. No plays off of Arie," Luyendyk declared on Iaconetti's Almost Famous podcast a couple of weeks later. "We wouldn't do that to the little one."
The news surprised Harrison, but he recently told ET that he couldn't be happier for the pair. "I was not surprised they're getting married. The baby announcement caught me off guard, but I'm unbelievably excited for them," he said. "They built this life in Arizona, they have the new house, they put the pool in, they're just a cute couple. I love them to death and I'm glad that they have kind of gotten away and gotten back to their life. So I'm very, very happy for them."