EXCLUSIVE: Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell Talk New 'Bachelor' Nick Viall, Tear-Filled Camping Trip with Chad
By Jennifer Drysdale
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Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell may have met on The Bachelor, but they're ready to put that part of their lives behind them.
ET's Lauren Zima sat down with the couple for an exclusive interview at the Acorn restaurant in Denver, Colorado, where the two shared their first post-Bachelor date -- and they couldn't be more thrilled to be passing on the torch to new Bachelor Nick Viall.
"I'm excited to no longer be referred to as 'the Bachelor,'" Higgins revealed.
"Me too…," Bushnell cracked.
"I think it's a great choice," Higgins said of Viall. "I think that Nick has not only just continued to grind through three seasons, going on four of The Bachelor, which I honestly could never do."
Higgins himself has only participated in two seasons of the Bachelor franchise. The 28-year-old quickly became a fan-favorite after finishing third in Kaitlyn Bristowe's season of The Bachelorette, and found love -- and a fiancée -- with former flight attendant Bushnell on season 20 of The Bachelor. His third round at reality television comes this fall with Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? on Freeform.
"I think Nick adds an element that I never could. I think he's very introspective. I think he really wants to find somebody," he continued, adding that Viall's confidence might be boosted since being named the most date-able guy on TV. "I think these women are going to humble him, and also make him feel a lot cooler than he really is."
"It's going to be fun to watch his journey as a man, kind of progressing through this, because I know how much I changed, and I think Nick will change a lot as well," Higgins explained.
"Nick deserves it," Bushnell simply stated.
The couple's assessment of Viall's potential as the Bachelor isn't just mere speculation; they recently sat down for dinner with the 35-year-old Milwaukee native.
"He's never gotten the girl, and we've watched him over and over again walk off sad," Higgins said, agreeing with Bachelor host Chris Harrison's interesting, but apparently accurate, comparison to James Marsden. "My advice to him was just be himself."
Bushnell offered her advice to women looking for live with Viall.
"Be confident, don’t doubt yourself," she offers to any single woman hoping to win Viall's heart. "Don't focus on other relationships… I think that will be my advice for all women, no matter who the Bachelor is."
"I wish I would've had been able to fully be myself, but I was kind of a deer in head lights the whole time," Bushnell explained. "I feel like I was myself in front of Ben, but a lot of times I was nervous and just trying to figure out what the heck was going on around me."
But both agree Nick is in need of a challenge.
"Challenge him," Higgins advised. "He has confidence, but we've all seen him heartbroken too. Just make him know that you're there for him, and not for the show, and I think everything will be great."
The 29-year-old luxury real estate agent recently joined Higgins and Bushnell for a little camping trip on an episode of their new reality show, Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?
"The Chad camping trip came from JoJo's After the Final Rose, when we first met Chad, and Lauren had a huge heart for him," Higgins explained.
"For the most part, we do feel a lot of love. I can't imagine what it would feel like to be just ripped apart all the time, especially in the year that a lot happened in," he said, referring to the recent death of Johnson's mother.
According to the former Bachelor, it was his bride-to-be that invited Johnson out for an outdoor excursion to "blow off some steam." "[We wanted to] spend a weekend with him, [and] hopefully [allow him to] find some redemption," Higgins said. "Give him an opportunity."
"We just wanted to show him, 'Hey, there are actually people that exist from this show that actually kind of care,'" he added.
And as for how the camping trip went? Higgins says "average."
"Not terrible, but there were some tears," Bushnell revealed, teasing that fans will have to tune in to their show's upcoming season to see who does the crying.
Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? premieres Oct. 11 on Freeform.