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How Former Bachelor Winner Lauren Bushnell Wishes Ben Higgins Had Been More Like Clayton Echard

Lauren Bushnell on Season 20 of The Bachelor.
(Image credit: ABC)

Clayton Echard was constantly roasted as the lead of The Bachelor Season 26. From the beginning of the journey, promos for the end of his season showed the Missouri native confessing to being in love with three women and being intimate with two of them. While many in Bachelor Nation were split over how Echard handled the situation, Lauren Bushnell (who got engaged to Ben Higgins at the end of The Bachelor Season 20) said there was one thing Echard did right that she wished was the case for her season.

The Season 20 couple stayed engaged for over a year, and even starred in their own spinoffBen & Lauren: Happily Ever After? on Freeform — before ending their relationship in 2017. Higgins caused controversy back on The Bachelor when he said “I love you” to both Bushnell and future Bachelorette Jojo Fletcher before proposing to the former. However, unlike Clayton Echard, Higgins did not make that fact known beforehand to his fiancée, and Bushnell told US Weekly that the omission caused problems for her and Higgins after the show:

I know specifically on my season I was not given that same information before making a really big decision. And that was the problem that I had very much so coming off the show [because] I just felt, like, I just made a huge decision without information that I feel like I deserved to know.

Lauren Bushnell makes a really good point. Former Bachelor Nation leads Kaitlyn Bristowe and Jesse Palmer defended Clayton Echard’s decision to have sex with multiple women, saying physical compatibility should play a part in whether you get engaged to someone or not. But it's also true that having information such as "your future fiancé being in love with multiple people" is equally important when deciding whether or not to spend your life with someone.

The former flight attendant said she felt “a little bit tricked” after her time on The Bachelor because it wasn’t just Ben Higgins who hid the truth from her, but also the producers, who become very close to the contestants during filming. Lauren Bushnell said:

Everyone had an opportunity to tell me, whether it was a producer or the lead of the show, [but] no one told me. I felt pretty bummed out and that’s a really hard place to start a relationship. [It’s hard to] build a relationship when you never really had a firm foundation to begin with.

It all worked out for the best, shecan now say, as she married country star Chris Lane in October 2019, and the couple shares 9-month-old son Dutton. Lauren Bushnell also admitted that while she would have preferred honesty in her own experience, Clayton Echard still wasn’t completely transparent with Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey during “The Rose Ceremony from Hell,” as he failed to mention that he was “the most” in love with Susie Evans.

That situation appears to have also worked out in everyone’s best interest, though, since Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey were named co-leads of The Bachelorette Season 19, and Clayton Echard reunited with Susie Evans post-filming after he became the first lead in both The Bachelor's and The Bachelorette's history to be rejected by their final choice.

While it’s unknown exactly how The Bachelorette will work with two leads, I’m excited to see it, because Gabby Windey was always the perfect choice, and the bond she formed with Rachel Recchia over the dramatic final episodes was one of the best things to come out of that season (other than America’s introduction to Gabby’s grandfather and Rachel’s father, of course). We’ll have to wait until July 11 for that premiere, but in the meantime, check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what else is coming up!

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.