the bachelorette season 16 hometowns ben smith screenshot

Spoilers ahead for the hometowns episode of The Bachelorette Season 16 on ABC.

The stakes were higher than ever for Tayshia Adams during her run on The Bachelorette heading into the hometowns episode that saw her meeting the families of her final four suitors: Zac Clark, Ivan Hall, Brendan Morais, and Ben Smith. Tayshia faced a difficult decision by the end, as none of these guys had been a source of major drama in the season, and she seemingly enjoyed meeting all of their families and going on the La Quinta versions of hometown dates. Sadly, though, she sent Ben home, and fans have thoughts.

Ben Smith has been memorable among Tayshia's suitors for a number of reasons, but particularly when he opened up about his mental health and past suicide attempts in 2018 and 2019. Tayshia herself didn't shy away from considering him a favorite, and it was just plain hard to root against Ben. Unfortunately, of her four remaining guys, Ben is the one who struggled with opening up and sharing his feelings, and that's what Tayshia needed this week.

What makes Ben's elimination extra heartbreaking is that it followed Ben having an emotional breakthrough and realizing that he's in love with Tayshia. He even wanted to tell her before they said goodnight after the hometown date, but he just couldn't do it. In a confessional, Ben described how he was feeling at the time, saying:

I'm incredibly uncomfortable. I'm super nervous. My heart rate's never been higher. I just... My brain couldn't work.

Ben wanted to tell Tayshia how he felt, Tayshia wanted Ben to tell her how he felt, and they were so close to getting on the same page... but the other three guys were making the kind of progress that Tayshia was looking for, and Ben was the odd man out. He didn't get a rose, and couldn't even bring himself to open up as she was walking him out and seemingly looking for reason to bend the rules and get him to stay. He just kept saying that he was going to be alright, but he made it clear in a car confessional that he still loves her.

Well, Ben may be alright, but I'm not sure that The Bachelorette fans can say the same after Tayshia made the heartbreaking decision to send him home! Take a look:

Ben may not have been breaking down in tears himself, but he certainly looked like he could use a hug after his realization that he was in love was followed by being sent home because he couldn't express himself. After that episode, maybe he needs a good cry to go with the hug.

Ben seemed like he was coming close, and he so clearly wanted to drop the big L-word on Tayshia, but viewers on the edges of their seats didn't get to see a confession. Honestly, I was at the point of wanting him to just pass her a note with a heart emoji drawn on if it could mean he'd stick around and get more time to talk himself into opening up. Poor Ben!

Personally, I was alright until he started repeating that he would be alright. As much as I want Ben to find the love he wants so much, I hope that he doesn't put himself through the Bachelor Nation process again. The spotlight might not be the place for him to process his emotions.

All the same, I can't blame Tayshia for deciding to send Ben home. The Bachelorette is her journey to find a husband, and she didn't know what was going on in his head and heart. She had no way of knowing that he was struggling to tell her that he's in love with her, so I can't fault her for keeping the guys who have given her what she needs over the guy who was barely reacting to her on the surface. I do wonder what her reaction will be now that the footage is airing, though.

Sadly, Ben did not tell Tayshia how he feels, and the men tell all special has already aired. Considering the pandemic protocols might mean that the usual "After the Final Rose" special might not be happening for Tayshia to face the men she eliminated again, we might not see them together again. While Tayshia may or may not end the season engaged to be married, the love story between Tayshia and Ben (such as it was) may be done for good.

Tayshia Adams' journey for love on The Bachelorette will end with a two-night finale, starting on Monday, December 21 and ending on Tuesday, December 22, both at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. For what you can watch in the new year (including the next season of The Bachelor with Matt James' debut), check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.

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