'Love Is Blind': Jessica Opens Up About Finding Her 'Fresh Start' (Exclusive)
By Desiree Murphy
Jessica Batten is opening up about her experience on Love Is Blind.
ET exclusively spoke with the reality star following the reunion tell-all taping in Atlanta, Georgia, last month, where she got candid about how she was portrayed on the Netflix series, what it's been like watching it back nearly a year and a half after production wrapped and whether she'd ever try the experiment again someday.
As fans who watched all 10 episodes can recall, Jessica made two strong connections in the pods -- one with Matthew Barnett (who ultimately said "I do" to Amber Pike) and another with Mark Anthony Cuevas. Jessica accepted Mark's pod proposal, but ended up leaving him at the altar during the explosive finale. No surprises there, however, as Jessica seemed to still have feelings for Barnett once they met in the real world.
"It's been a struggle to watch it back because I saw that I was really working through some things that I needed to deal with," Jessica admitted to ET. "As hard as it was though, it was kind of therapeutic on the other side to know that I was able to work through some of those things. That wasn't the initial objective of coming onto the show, but I think I'm better for it."
Jessica said that she's "grown a ton" since leaving the show, however, and has spent a lot of the past year self-reflecting.
"There was one experience of living it, and there's the secondary experience of watching it back. After the show wrapped, I had a really tough time," she admitted. "I had to take some time for myself and get through therapy and stuff like that. I went home, moved back to Chicago, just to be closer to family."
"Now I'm out in Los Angeles and I feel I'm having a fresh start," she continued. "I feel really good about where I'm at and finally starting to open myself up again. But I wouldn't be able to do that without the lessons I learned here and from Mark."
ET also spoke with Mark at the reunion, where he shared similar sentiments about needing some alone time after the show wrapped.
"I think both of us needed our own time to figure things out. She needed her time and I needed my time and we're both the type of people that need to figure it out in our own way," he shared. "We both hadn't really reached out [since] but I knew eventually we'd see each other again and it would be fine."
"I know that this whole journey was a lot. It's one thing to be there for each other but it's another to be like, 'OK, we need our own separate space to go and be our own people and figure this out on our own,'" he added. "We all came out on the other end learning way more."
Regardless of how their journey played out on the show, Mark and Jessica have no hard feelings toward one another. In fact, they are hoping to stay connected even after the Love Is Blind craze cools down.
"We're connected for life because no one is ever going to understand how crazy this was," Jessica shared. "This is season one. This is not like The Bachelor that's been running for, like, 17 seasons. We had to really put ourselves out there and we were in it together. We're always going to be friends for life."
"We went through something together and I want her to be the most successful person out there," Mark said of his ex-fiancée. "If she ever did need me, just wanted to talk, I'd be there. I can thank [her] for everything. Like, who I am today is because of what we did [together]. That's why I hope that people stop giving her so much flak because we were both just two people trying to figure it out. Now we're here and we're two better people for it."
All that being said, Jessica told ET that she would for sure go back and do it again... just maybe a little bit "differently" the second time around.
"I wish I was more ready," she explained. "And I wish I dealt with some of the challenges I was experiencing differently."