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‘Here for the Right Reasons’: Jessenia Cruz Clears the Air About Pre-‘BiP’ Relationships With Chris Conran and Ivan Hall (Exclusive)

The story behind the Polaroid! Bachelor Nation put Jessenia Cruz in the hot seat after photos surfaced of her hanging out with Chris Conran before filming season 7 of Bachelor in Paradise, but what really happened during their San Diego outing? Us Weekly is breaking it all down on Here for the Right Reasons.

Related: Bachelor Nation Stars Accused of Having Relationships Pre-Show

“Besides having been on the show before at one point, the only relation that we really have is Katie [Thurston]. Katie had just got back from filming The Bachelorette and she wanted to come spend some downtime in San Diego, so she invited whoever could go to go. I personally wanted to just go see Katie,” Jessenia, 28, exclusively told Us after the Monday, August 30, episode of BiP, noting she met some people “for the first time,” including costar Tammy Ly, at the May meet-up.

The Texas native added that she and Chris, 28, were “hanging out in group settings,” explaining, “We had dinner or lunch, that kind of thing, but it was never anything beyond that. I mean, the relationship didn’t go any further, besides what, like, following each other on Instagram, which everybody does. Just to set the record straight, there was absolutely no romantic relationship going on before the show even started. I had my first impression of him in San Diego and figured, you know, he seems cool.”

Jessenia Cruz Clears the Air About Pre-BiP Relationships With Chris Conran and Ivan Hall
Jessenia Cruz, Chris Conran, and Ivan Hall ABC (3)

Katie, 30, for her part, defended Jessenia as the photos surfaced, writing via Instagram Stories, “We were all JUST FRIENDS hanging out.”

Tammy, 26, meanwhile, told Us that fans are “overreacting” to the pre-show pics.

Related: ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ Couples Who Are Still Together

“We all went down there after Katie filmed her season to support our friend. We all were down there as friends, flew in at different times during the week. And we just had lunch,” she told Us. “Katie had a Polaroid wanting to take pictures cause she can’t post them on Instagram at the time. So we all had these cute Polaroids of each other and that’s just what it was. We were just all taking pictures with each other.”

During Monday’s episode, Serena Pitt noted that both Chris and Ivan Hall were on Jessenia’s “list.” Prior to Chris’ arrival, she had developed a connection with the latter. However, Jessenia also denied having a pre-show relationship with Ivan.

Jessenia Cruz Clears the Air About Pre-BiP Relationships With Chris Conran and Ivan Hall 2
Jessenia Cruz and Ivan Hall ABC/Craig Sjodin

“That was kind of, like, something that a lot of us girls would talk about randomly, especially early on once the show started filming. Like, ‘Well, who do you want to see?’” she told Us, noting that it was “still so early” despite the “impression” that the cast had been in Mexico for weeks as of Monday’s episode. “I wanted to just be open to it. I definitely felt really good about where I was at with Ivan, but regardless of whether Chris was coming or not, I was open to meeting whoever would want to take me on a date and get to know me a little bit.”

Related: Biggest Bachelor Nation Scandals of All Time

Jessenia continued: “I wanted to meet Riley, but obviously Riley and Maurissa hit it off. I also did want to meet Grocery Store Joe, but Joe and Serena P. hit it off pretty quickly.”

While she added that Ivan “checks a lot of boxes” and gave her “butterflies,” Jessenia hinted that she feels more secure with Chris.

“If there’s something that I learned recently actually, is you should always go for people who you really feel safe with,” she told Us. “You feel the most comfortable with that kind of thing. Cause that chaotic, like, butterfly feeling can really be too much. And it’s not necessarily the best foundation for a relationship.”

For more from Jessenia, Tammy and a full recap of Monday’s episode of BiP, watch the video above.

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