The thorns of JoJo Fletcher’s After the Final Rose might’ve been sharpest for her ex, Ben Higgins, and his fiancée, Lauren Bushnell.
The couple who got engaged during Season 20 of The Bachelor are the stars of Freeform’s new reality show Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, which premiered Tuesday night. And it seems they’re having trouble moving past a certain ghost of girlfriends past.
Moments before Ben and Lauren took their seats in the audience before the live viewing of TheBachelorette episode, Lauren hesitated when Ben asked if she was ready. “I’m anxious, and I just wish I was back in Denver, hangin’,” she told him.
“Well now I feel bad for coming here,” the second runner-up from Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season said before LB hit him with the classic “It’s fine,” adding, “This just isn’t my idea of fun.”
What had Lauren so stressed? She was worried Ben might have unresolved feelings for JoJo, the other woman for whom he professed his love.
“The rollercoaster of emotions from reliving Ben being The Bachelor has been really difficult for me,” Lauren told the cameras, “especially because at the end he was torn.” The blogger said this has led to arguments, and Ben acknowledged it has been the source of some resentment.
When a producer called to invite the future Higgins to JoJo’s After the Final Rose, which insiders refer to as AFR, Lauren wrote the invitation off as “a weird request” and said people should “let both parties move on.”
Lauren warily agreed to go to AFR, but after binge-watching JoJo’s season to prep, she started to second-guess her decision. “For someone who’s supposedly moved on, JoJo talks a lot about Ben,” she shared in an interview.
But, those who watched JoJo’s season of The Bachelorette know JoJo has moved on. She gave her final rose to sports broadcaster Jordan Rodgers, and they got engaged. JoJo is so over Ben she even invited her ex and Lauren on a double date so they could all catch up. That shouldn’t be awkward at all, right Lauren?
Ben accepted JoJo's invite without checking with his future wifey first, which he admitted was a bad move.
“There’s something that just makes me uneasy about the three of us sitting down,” Lauren told Ben. “I don’t know if that makes sense.”
She also confided to the camera, “I’m so annoyed. This chapter of my life is supposed to be with Ben, not with Ben, Lauren and JoJo.”
At AFR, Lauren told Ben she only agreed to come because she felt like she didn’t have a choice, and she confessed that she was worried about how Ben would react to seeing JoJo.
The two made it through AFR, though they did get into a tiff when Lauren didn’t give Ben enough feedback about an answer he gave to host and drama super-stan Chris Harrison. However, Lauren was still “completely dreading” lunch.
“I don’t want to resent JoJo,” she admitted. “I don’t want to resent Ben, and I think that’s my biggest fear is I don’t know if meeting up and having lunch will bring back those memories from months ago.”
Of course, the show ended before we saw Ben and Lauren sit down for a totally casual lunch date with J Squared, so let’s talk about the previews.
Yes, we know that Ben and Lauren both enjoyed bachelor/bachelorette parties over the weekend in Las Vegas, as documented on social media, but the brief peeks at the coming season lead us to believe that their road has been rocky.
In one scene, Lauren asked her sister if she thought Ben had cold feet. In another snippet, Ben told Lauren, “Marrying somebody involves knowing what you’re getting into,” while wiping tears from his eyes. And while wearing a white dress, Lauren asked Ben, “So, are you saying that the wedding is off?”