The untold truth of Ben Higgins & Jessica Clarke’s relationship
Ben Higgins is not a bachelor anymore. The reality star proposed to girlfriend Jessica Clarke on March 27, 2020, in her hometown of Franklin, Tenn. The bride-to-be shared photos from the proposal on Instagram. “I don’t remember everything you said, but I know that I said yes,” she captioned her post. “I woke up in a dream today and I get to live in this dream every day from now on (eeeep).”
The Bachelor franchise favorite told Entertainment Tonight that he originally planned to propose in New York City, but “everything changed” because of the coronavirus outbreak. The couple initially self-quarantined with his parents in Indiana, but they all reportedly drove to Tennessee to include her family in the special moment. “I proposed and her family and mine were watching from a distance, and then we all celebrated together,” he said.
Before he popped the question, Higgins reportedly started to cry, which really worried Jessica. As Ben recalled, “She said it was one of two things: either I was ending our relationship, which would have been a huge shock… or I was proposing.”
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending, but let’s take a closer look at its beginning.
Ben Higgins slid into Jessica Clarke's DMs
Ben Higgins opened up about the origins of his relationship with Jessica Clarke during a February 2019 episode of The Ben & Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast. Here’s the deal: Higgins was in Nashville in August 2018 for a charity event, and while he was checking in, he noticed some “big dudes” that clearly looked like athletes also checking in. Higgins decided to jump on Instagram to try to figure out what sports team was in town by looking at top posts connected to his location.
Well, thank goodness Ben didn’t just Google it, because while on the Gram, Jessica’s picture showed up in his feed because she was at the nearby Nashville Predators hockey game with her father. “I was just scrolling through and I saw this picture and I was like, ‘Holy cow, this girl is gorgeous,” he said. Mind you, Jess was not a blue-check-mark-kind-of profile, but she caught Higgins eye and he liked her social media commentary. So what did he do? He took a screenshot of her post … and then waited months, until Thanksgiving 2018, to reach out to her. He says he’d explain how he found her profile later but first, “if you’re single, please message back,” he said.
Jessica Clarke had no clue who Ben Higgins was
Jessica Clarke had no idea who Ben Higgins was when he slid into her messages on Instagram. In fact, she told The Ben & Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast that she wasn’t even a fan of the Bachelor franchise and had initially ignored his note to her. When she finally checked it out, she thought it was “hilarious” and “very cute,” but she still didn’t grasp that she’d been contacted by a guy who starred in The Bachelor and got engaged to another reality star, Lauren Bushnell. This memorable reality TV couple even had their own show called Ben and Lauren, Happily Ever After?, before calling off the wedding in 2017. All this made national headlines, folks!
But the University of Mississippi grad was apparently clueless. “Ben always makes fun of me, because before we told anyone we were dating, I was like, ‘I don’t understand why we can’t tell people. It’s not that big of a deal.’ I didn’t understand at all,” she told the podcast.
With time, Jessica started to realize just how invested The Bachelor fans actually are in their relationship. “There is this outside world that is a part of our life,” Ben said. “I kind of threw us both into it, because I started sharing my journey years ago, but it doesn’t affect our day-to-day life very often. And she’s been accepted into the family too. The Bachelor family has been really great to her,” he said, including longtime host Chris Harrison.
It took a while for Ben & Jessica to share their secret
Ben Higgins and Jessica Clarke kept their relationship very private for months, but in February 2019, they finally made it Instagram official. Jessica posted a couple’s pic on her profile with the caption: “My secret boyfriend, Ben! He has one of the biggest hearts and kindest spirits, I got to share Honduras with him this past week and I’m excited for many more adventures!”
Ben shared the same pic and told his more than 1 million followers: “I’ve been selfishly keeping this girl to myself for too long! Hey friends meet @jessclarke_! I successfully slid into her Dm’s a few months ago. I took a risk and I am glad I did.” He added, “She is someone special, and I look forward to where life is going to take us. Stay tuned for the journey.”
Fortunately for fans, they’ve made good on that promise, dishing out plenty of cute pics and fun joint interviews along the way. Jessica, who co-owns SweatNET fitness clubs based in Nashville and Denver, traveled the country with Ben for Bachelor Live on Stage, but the tour was shut down in response to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps all that social distancing convinced the lovebirds to take things to the next level. “Our relationship is healthy,” Ben told Us Weekly. “I’m a better version of myself, a more free version of myself than I’ve been in a while.”
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