On The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, happily ever after is the goal but not always the outcome. Over the course of 33 seasons, only a few strong pairs have survived. (Pour one out for Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi. And another for Andi Dorfman and Josh Murray.)
So while Nick Viall and Vanessa Grimaldi’s dramatic journey ended on the Monday, March 13 finale, their actual journey for lifelong love is just beginning.
Over the years, some of the franchise’s favorite couples shared with Us how they’ve made their relationships work after the final rose. (Spoiler: After reality TV, don’t lose touch with reality!)
Jason and Molly Mesnick
Step 1: Step away. “Being in front of the cameras is definitely not normal, and I don’t think people are truly themselves when the camera is on them,” Molly, who wed The Bachelor season 13 star in 2010, tells Us. “Jason the Bachelor is different from Jason in real life and Molly the contestant is very different from real-life Molly. We started from square one. Like, ‘Who are you?’”
Chimes in Jason, “Like, ‘Can I have your number?’” (Refresher: Jason proposed to Melissa Rycroft on the 2009 finale only to dump her for Molly on the After the Final Rose special.)
Jokes aside, the Seattle-based parents to Ty and Riley admit they weren’t lucky in love — they earned it. “The show is so orchestrated that love is a fluke,” says Jason. “Molly was living in Milwaukee, so she went back to Milwaukee and I was in Seattle, so we probably spent a year just flying back and forth.”
Ashley and J.P. Rosenbaum
With Ashley in Philadelphia and J.P. in New York post-Bachelorette in 2011, “our lives just blended,” explains the season 7 lead. “What worked for us is that we went back to our normal life and we didn’t look for anything more. We came away with the good that we got, and we just went back to normal.”
Still, the parents of Ford, 2, and Essex, 4 months, know they benefitted from their location. “It was an easy transition,” adds J.P., who wed Ashley on TV in 2012. “Some of the other couples, they don’t have that.”
Plus, no long distance equaled no grudges. “It’s not like one of us had to go to the other,” says Ashley. “There was no resentment, like, ‘Oh, I’m in your town.’ We started something new together.”
Sean and Catherine Lowe
Coming off a 10-week fantasy of helicopters and hot tubs isn’t an easy feat. Especially when reality comes into play.
“There were a lot of things we didn’t know about each other, and there were a lot of things that we needed to learn,” The Bachelor season 17 lead tells Us. “We needed to learn how to resolve conflict as a couple, and we needed to learn how to get through problems or issues that came across, so there was definitely a learning curve, but I proposed to her on The Bachelor because I knew I was in love with her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.”
Finding their rhythm took a beat while Sean competed on Dancing With the Stars in 2013. “Everything that had to do with our experience in L.A. was very unique, so that was kind of a period that was completely surreal,” admits the mom of Samuel, 8 months. “Coming to Dallas had given me a light into his normal life and what he grew up with and seeing him in a different light because of his surroundings and how he feels comfortable.”
JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers
For The Bachelorette’s most recent success story, a rushed union would cause a split. And for good reason. “People watch the show and they’re like, ‘OK, you’re engaged now. When is the wedding?’” Fletcher tells Us. “It’s like, ‘No, we’re going to enjoy this together.’ I think that’s the best part about our relationship right now. Life is just fun! We’re doing all these new things together.”
And while Rodgers travels around the country as a football analyst for the SEC network, Fletcher stands by as his No. 1 cheerleader. “I love the fact the he’s working so hard and chasing his dreams,” she gushes. “We both support each other, so it’s great.”
Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth
The Bachelorette season 11 pair know why they work: They like each other. (Shocker!) “If we spent this much time together and we didn’t love each other, I see how it would go south fast,” explains Bristowe. “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that show. I totally understand why couples wouldn’t work, because really you don’t spend that much time and then there’s so much stress that you kind of lose your mind. But it’s a genuine thing between us.”
When the cameras stopped rolling, the Nashville-based duo started from the beginning. “We used the show to meet each other and find each other, but we really started dating afterwards,” adds Booth. “We’re like a regular couple.”
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