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Clare Crawley hasn't been on Bachelor Nation's screens since 2014. Back then, in one pivotal year, she both told off one of the most infamous Bachelors in franchise history, Juan Pablo Galavis, and helped usher in a new show, Bachelor in Paradise. Now she's back to help the franchise premiere its latest incarnation, Bachelor Winter Games. We caught up with 36-year-old Clare about life since BiP, what she'd say to Juan Pablo now and why she absolutely refuses to settle.
ET: How was your Bachelor Winter Games experience, and why return to TV now?
Clare Crawley: It was way better than I thought it would be! Above and beyond. The thing that I really, really loved about this show was that there was no immature cattiness on it … a lot less stressful than the other shows. …I tried and I put energy into it and that's a whole lot more than sitting on my couch and going … "I wish I maybe would have tried … what if?" … I get to do something I’ve never done before, I get to go to a place I’ve never been … it actually was a really easy choice and I was excited to come.
We’ll see a love triangle develop over you on BWG. How did it feel to be fought over?
Being in a love triangle was something that I thought would never happen on any of the shows, so it was definitely something new for me, and I didn't expect really any guy to be interested in me. I felt like I was going to be the old lady in the group … It was a pleasant surprise. … I'm a very private person, so I think in the public eye, it appears I've just been doing no dating [these last few years off-camera], but as a matter of fact, I've had some pretty serious relationships … but I'm not one to settle.
Age is something that people talk about a lot with the franchise lately, like Bekah on Arie's season [of The Bachelor], her young age has been a big issue. Having been on several of the series, what's your take?
In my eyes, to lean towards more of the older crowd is more appropriate because you see these girls that are 21, 22 and at that age … I didn't even know myself at that age, so how do you expect to be ready for a relationship? But the funny thing is I find the backlash is more for the older crowd, for the people like me that people are going, "Why are you still doing this? You're 36!" … There's so much backlash on being my age and being single. It blows my mind, and it's like, what's the alternative? Being my age and having settled for someone that's not right for me? Because I think at this age, I know exactly what I'm looking for. I know exactly what I want. And that, to me, is a better opportunity, versus somebody who doesn't really fully know themselves coming in. … I'll wait forever. You know, I don't care if I'm 45 or 55. I'd rather be single and living my life and having a happy life than settling for somebody that's not right for me.
And those qualities are what people love about you; you do not settle! You told Juan Pablo Galavis in that famous moment how you felt. If you ran into him tomorrow, what would you say?
I don't know if I would have anything to say to him. … On my end, there's no hate. And that's simply because I think if you have any emotion or feelings for somebody, that means that you care, and I just simply don't care. He's not somebody that I want to invest my time in ... I don't really know the guy, to be honest.
Had you heard he’s settled down?
I don’t keep up with him, so I have really no clue, but, you know what, good for him! There’s somebody for everybody.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently with him?
I've thought about it. I want to be able to sit here and say that I have no regrets ... it was one of the greatest learning experiences for me in my life, because it helped me stand up and have my voice as a woman. And not only did it let me do that, but it let me do that publicly, which is an even harder thing to do, and I did it. … That was, like, one of the greatest self-esteem boosters for myself, like, "I can do this." If I can do it, anybody can stand up for themselves. So it was very pivotal in my life as a woman. But if any regrets, I would probably say, when I had a talk with him in the hotel room after the helicopter situation, I knew it in my gut right then that things weren't right. I should have left then, but I wanted to stick around. And, I don't think I would have had the feeling I have now, the sense of empowerment as I do now, if I hadn't stayed to the end. So, I don't really regret it.
We see a tease of you having a confrontation on BWG. Will we get another "Clare standing up for herself" moment?
There were a couple times and a couple guys! I have a very low tolerance for bulls**t from men. … Especially in this moment, in this world, for women in general, it's nice to be able to not put up with crap. And even on a friendship level or on a dating level, I don't have tolerance for that from men. … There were a couple times where I got a little frustrated.
Having been on Bachelor shows for many iterations, through some different years of a lot of change, where do you want to see the franchise go from here?
Something that I obviously am really passionate about is seeing strong women on these shows. I think that there's not enough of that. … We see these women get off the show and … they're just heartbroken and they're crushed. It bothers me seeing women that are like that and feeling that way, whether it's from production side or editing side … I want to see women who leave the show who go …"I'm not sad that a man didn't see my value" or "I'm not sad that he wasn't the right one for me." ... not to be, "He didn't pick me!" I hate seeing that.
For more on Bachelor Winter Games, check out our interview with Ben Higgins below, and watch the premiere Tuesday, Feb 13 on ABC.