Original 'Bachelorette' Trista Sutter Says This Was 'Bachelor' Arie's 'Huge' Mistake (Exclusive)

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Trista Sutter

She's the original Bachelorette, and her marriage is one of the Bachelor franchise's most successful love stories, so Trista Sutter knows how to make a relationship from the show work. And she thinks Arie Luyendyk Jr. has made a big mistake.

"I really like Arie," she told ET by phone. "I like the girls. I'm hopeful for everyone." But the fact that Arie said "I love you" to more than one woman on Monday night's episode? "That's a huge no-no," she says.

"You don't do that! Like, really. Don't do that. Because you know what? The girl he picks, who he is really in love with, she’s going to be pissed off. And the other [one], who you obviously aren't in love with enough to pick, is going to be heartbroken. You're going to ruin lives. So don't do it."

But he did; Luyendyk said “I love you” to both Becca and Lauren during fantasy suites. Sutter explains how she navigated the waters of her Bachelorette season: "You might be feeling it, but hold your tongue! That's what I did. I kind of regret not giving Ryan any validation that he was the one, but at the same time, I didn't want to give him hope, because if he'd told me something different about himself that was a game changer, then things would have been different. Knowing what I know now, obviously, he was my one and only choice. If I had picked Charlie [Maher], I wouldn't be happy. I wouldn't be with him right now. But I think you just have to make sure you choose your words wisely."

She also didn’t love how many women the so-called Kissing Bandit locked lips with this season. “Can we maybe just back up a bit and give some time for a relationship to develop and see if you want to kiss that person?” Sutter said. “I get it. Kissing is freaking important! I remember my mom on my season going, ‘How good of a kisser is he? That’s what’s going to tell you whether or not he’s the one!’ So I know how important kissing and chemistry is, but just as a mother I feel like I would love for a Bachelor or a Bachelorette to maybe take a step back and be like, You know what, I’m not going to kiss everyone out of the gate. I’m going to kiss the ones I truly have a significant interest in, and not just kiss them for kissing’s sake.”

ABC/Paul Hebert

Another hot topic this season has been the young age of many contestants; one was 22. But Sutter doesn’t see a problem. “ I don’t think it’s an age thing, I think it’s an individual thing,” she explains. “If people are mature enough and know who they are and know what they want I don’t think age should play as much of a factor as people put into it."

Her young children, 10-year-old son Max and 8-year-old daughter Blakesley, have never seen the episodes on which mom and dad fell for each other. "I don't think I'll promote it [to them], but I have no doubt they'll watch it at some point," she says. Would she be OK with her kids being Bachelor alumni one day? "I would be all for it," she says. "I can't treat my children any different than my friends, and I've told friends to go for it and have a great experience."

The blonde beauty first gained notoriety on The Bachelor in 2002, where she failed to find love with Alex Michel, but won over the show's fans in spades. Sutter (nee Rehn) became the first-ever Bachelorette in 2003, when she met and fell in love with firefighter Ryan Sutter; the two married later that year, making 2018 their 15-year wedding anniversary. She’s not yet sure how they’ll celebrate, but knows she’s happy.

“Like any relationship, we have ebbs and flows,” she says. “I think it’s just a matter of sticking to it and not giving in to the doubts and the worry and thinking, ‘Oh, we can’t do this anymore,’ when you’re at your low points, and really being excited and living in the moment at the high points.”

Sutter says that level of commitment is key to making a relationship that comes out of The Bachelor work. “You don’t give up, and you put the effort in,” she says. “I think that’s the biggest piece of advice and the secret to our success, is that we just don’t give in. We don’t give up. We stay true to our commitment and keep our relationship a priority. Especially, I think, it’s important in that whirlwind right after the show if you focus on each other.”

A couple days ago, a friend told me that Valentines Day is a fake holiday...built up by @hallmark to increase sales. 🤔 And for a minute there, I bought into that notion and even excused myself from not going all out. But, i came to my senses and realized that the real story of the “fake” holiday, for me, is love...my favorite thing! So, why not celebrate it and appreciate it and express it, even if it’s at the same time as the rest of the world and sells lots of cards and chocolates and flowers?! I say, sell away, and I’ll take this opportunity to shout my love from the social media rooftops! ❤️ @ryansutter, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! Thank you for loving me and helping me create two beautiful lives out of that love. 🧒🏼👧🏼 Thank you for giving me the honor of loving you. Life is better with you and even though I may not say it or show it as often as I should, I love you the most. 😘 #happyvalentinesday #myforevervalentine #mylove #mylife #myheart #grateful

A post shared by Trista Sutter (@tristasutter) on

Sutter’s priorities have shifted a bit in the past year; she’s now putting more of a focus on her health after suffering a seizure while on a family vacation in June. Luckily, doctors have given her a clean bill of health and think it was a one-time incident, but she’s making small changes for everyday betterment. One included installing Honeywell Air Purifiers in every room of her house to help with her and her son’s longtime allergy issues. She’s partnered with the brand.

“Honeywell has filters that remove up to 99.97% of the allergens in the air that passes through the filter,” she says. “So it cleans the air in our home and just makes it a much healthier place to live.”

Sutter stays in touch with many of the Bachelorettes who came after her, and was even having lunch with DeAnna Pappas in New York City (the two later headed to a night out with Ashley Hebert and Desiree Hartsock) while chatting with ET. Her pick for the next Bachelorette is this season's Tia Booth, though she is on board with the show switching up the selection formula.

“I’ve always been the person wanting them to pluck someone [to be the lead] out of obscurity again,” she said. “Someone we don't know but who everyone will fall in love with because they have a great backstory, or because they're the underdog!”

The Bachelor season finale airs in two parts next Monday and Tuesday nights on ABC, with the next Bachelorette being revealed Tuesday.

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