When Rachael Kirkconnell went on vacation without Matt James last month, Bachelor Nation was convinced the season 25 couple called it quits — and social media sleuths aren’t the only ones who they have to answer to.
“I think that we’ve been through so much stuff at this point that nothing really phases us. I get it — because we’re together so much so whenever our schedules don’t line up or whenever we have our own things going on, I get where people come from,” Kirkconnell exclusively told Us Weekly during a joint interview with James about their partnership with Baskin-Robbins on Tuesday, July 18. “I do think a lot of it came from a place of love, like, people were worried because they like us so much as a couple. So in a way, it was a little flattering. But also, at the end of the day, we’re normal people [in a] normal relationship. It’s kind of crazy sometimes when you see, you know, just how invested people are. In such a quick way, too. You’re like, ‘It’s been a week! I haven’t posted in, like, eight days, relax!’”
James subsequently revealed that his mother, Patty, shared the same concerns as their followers.
“I’ll come home and if Rachael’s not with me, my mom’s like, ‘What’s wrong? Where’s Rachael?’” he told Us. “I’m like, ‘She had to go home to see her family!’ She has her mom and her dad and brother and sister [in Atlanta].”
Kirkconnell, meanwhile, is flattered by Patty’s worries. “I do love [your mom]. I only think your mom is like that because we have so much fun when we’re together,” she gushed.
Speaking of Patty, there were reports last month that she would be part of The Golden Bachelor, ABC’s senior spinoff set to premiere this fall. Kirkconnell and James played coy with Us before making it clear they are a fan of the lead, Gerry Turner.
“I keep getting that question, like, if someone knows something, ‘Let me know!’” James teased.
“We truly, truly, truly don’t know. We don’t know if she’s on it or not,” Kirkconnell insisted. “I’m very excited to see whatever happens. I’m really excited for Gerry. I think he’s going to be a great Bachelor. I mean, he seems like the absolute perfect candidate, so I’m really excited to watch. … I’m rooting for love [for Patty] any day, whether it’s on TV or off.”
James concluded that he “just wants [his] mom to be happy.”
While the former Bachelor has admitted to having issues with the franchise in the past, he and Kirkconnell are currently one of the five duos still going strong from the OG show. (The [27th season of The Bachelor aired earlier this year and season 17 of The Bachelorette is on now.)
“Matt really is just my best friend,” Kirkconnell told Us of approaching three years together. “I think at the end of the day, it’s just really fun to live the life that we live together. I don’t think anything that we do would be nearly as fun if I weren’t with him. I love our dynamic, I think that we make each other better people. We bring out the better version of ourselves. I think we have a lot to teach each other.”
James agreed. “I’m dating my best friend. It just makes everything that much better,” he said. “You get to enjoy life with that person. It’s a great come true. We’re always telling ourselves how blessed we are.”
As Kirkconnell joked that the pair often “forget” they met on a reality show, they still field questions from Bachelor Nation about when they will get engaged after James opted not to pick out a Neil Lane diamond during the 2021 finale.
“I don’t get annoyed by any of that stuff. I get it,” James told Us of both breakup and engagement chatter. “We post and share every aspect of our lives. So for people to be curious means that we’re, you know, keeping them in the loop and we want them in the loop.”
Kirkconnell noted that she “get[s] it because they’ve been waiting for an engagement since the finale of the show.”
“But also, I do just want to put into perspective for people — if we were in a normal relationship, met out on the street in New York and we’ve been dating going on three years … it’s not that weird [to not be engaged]. I feel like that’s pretty normal,” she continued. “I feel like we’re doing all the right things to take our relationship to the next step.”
As they potentially prepare for any new milestones, the twosome told Us that dessert was one of the first things they bonded over while filming The Bachelor in 2020, which is why their partnership with Baskin-Robbins is the perfect fit. (For the record, the other thing that initially gave Kirkconnell an edge to win James’ affections was her obsession with Marvel.)
James and Kirkconnell mingled with attendees at the brand’s first-ever NYC summer rooftop soiree on Tuesday, sampling Baskin-Robbin’s two newest flavors, OREO MEGA STUF Cone and Cappuccino Blast.
“I’m a Cappuccino gal,” Kirkconnell told Us. “I don’t think you can beat that one because it’s the Oreo ice cream and the cold brew mixed.”
James, for his part, couldn’t contain his excitement over the Oreo waffle cone. “I was talking to Rachael about this earlier. At this point in my life, it’s very rare that I experience firsts unless I’m going bungee jumping or something,” he said.
Kirkconnell briefly interrupted James to make an agreement not to go bungee jumping before he continued: “And when I saw that there was a waffle cone that had actual Oreo cookies in it, I’m like, ‘OK, I’m sold. I’ve got to try it.’ And then having it today — there’s crunch from the Oreo! There’s crunch from the waffle cone! It’s amazing.”