Chris Soules is slowly returning to the public eye this holiday season.
On Friday night, the Bachelor alum made his first red carpet appearance since 2017 when he showed up smiling to KIIS FM's iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2019, presented By Capital One, at The Forum in Los Angeles, California. ET's Katie Krause spoke with Soules about what it's like being back in L.A. and what he learned during his two-year hiatus from the limelight.
Soules insisted that he was not "really returning to the spotlight" but was rather at the Jingle Ball to watch the concert with friends Ashley Iaconetti, who was a contestant on his season of The Bachelor, and her husband, Jared Haibon, as well as Dean Unglert and Caelynn Miller-Keyes.
"I'm here for a really great concert," he said of his public appearance. "I'm here in L.A. and kind of just living the dream a little bit."
The 38-year-old former reality star told ET that during these few years away from Bachelor Nation, he's learned that being around family and friends is key. "It has been tough but it makes you appreciate the people around you, family, friends -- and how hard things can get, you just have to press on," he said.
As for his relationship status, Soules admitted that he has been dating but nothing "serious, serious."
"I'm finally at a point in my life where I'm ready to date again," he disclosed.
Soules is also very ready for 2020, proclaiming that this is "going to be my best year ever."
Soules has laid low since April 2017 when he was arrested after police alleged that he fled the scene of a car collision before officers arrived. The Iowa State Patrol crash report claims that he was driving a Chevy pickup truck when he rear-ended a John Deere tractor-trailer. The person driving the tractor-trailer, later identified as 66-year-old farmer Kenneth Mosher, was taken in an ambulance to the hospital, where he died.
Through all this, Soules says Bachelor Nation and his fans have been super supportive. "Are you trying to make me tear up a little?" he told ET as he emotionally expressed how thankful he is for everyone who was there for him.
"It's always been an awkward situation for all of us, but I've had nothing but support from family and friends," he said. "...I've had so much support throughout everything. Thank everyone."
That being said, Soules isn't looking to make a return to Bachelor Nation. "I wouldn't do it for a second time. I've been down that road, it's been a great experience," he shared. "The relationships that I've taken away...I have nothing but the upmost respect for [The Bachelor] and the people I've been able to meet as a result of it."
Both Iaconetti and Haibon shared with ET how thrilled they were to spend time with Soules, and how delighted they are that he is able to get back to his life.
"Chris has been a friend and it was just a horrible situation that happened a couple years ago, and I remember first hearing about it, and it's that moment where your heart sinks and you have no idea what's going to happen, because Chris is such a good friend, and it was tragic what happened," Haibon shared. "You go through so many emotions as a friend, because you just don't know the situation and you're hearing rumors about what exactly happened and what didn't happen."
"I'm just really happy for him right now, that he's hopefully being able to get back to his life, because I don't think he was able to for the last few years. And so, we'll still be there to support him. We watched football together a couple Sundays ago," he added.
"He's just such a kind guy, so good-hearted," Iaconetti chimed in. "And I'm happy to see him out here living."
"There are people in his life who are way more involved than us that did a lot more. So, we're here for him if he needs anything, and I think that's all I can really say about it," Haibon expressed.
Soules added that while he hasn't kept up with the new Bachelor, Peter Weber, he does plan on watching his season and hopes it all worked out for him.
As for what's next for Soules, he told ET that "as a result of everything," he's focusing on agriculture and "organic hemp production back in Iowa."
"You gotta move on in life and do your thing at some point, and try to make yourself a better person," he said.
The iHeartRadio Jingle Ball special will air Dec. 19 on The CW. In the meantime, here's more with the Bachelor alum: