Becca Kufrin's consolation prize (of sorts) for getting her heart broken by Arie Luyendyk Jr. in front of millions of viewers on the Season 22 finale of The Bachelor was to be named The Bachelorette. Trista Sutter—the first ever Bachelorette—knows this narrative all too well.
Sutter appeared on the very first season of the The Bachelor in 2002 with businessman Alex Michel. She was Trista Rehn then, a former Miami Heat cheerleader, and she truly ended up falling for Michel.
However, Michel ended up picking event planner Amanda Marsh, leaving Rehn in second place. The breakup ended up being a blessing in disguise, though, because she went on to be the first Bachelorette, where she would choose Ryan Sutter for the final proposal. Trista and Ryan have been married for almost 15 years and have two kids together. (Michel and Marsh broke up shortly after their final Bachelor episode.)
In an interview with Cosmopolitan.com at the opening of the WE tv Bridezillas Museum of Natural Hysteria in New York, Sutter and other former Bachelorettes spoke about their time on The Bachelor franchise, and whether they would have taken Luyendyk back like Lauren Burnham did.
"Alex told me the night before the final rose ceremony that he was going to pick me, and he didn't," Sutter shares. "I was crushed. And after we stopped taping I begged the producers; was like, ‘Please, let me talk to him,’ I would have done anything to get back together and make it happen."
Sutter says the producers talked her out of contacting Michel after the breakup, likely because they had bigger plans in store. "[The producers], they talked me off a ledge, like, 'You know what? Lets just all go back to our normal lives and we will see where this all ends up.' And thank God! I think that [Mike Fleiss] probably had it in his mind that he wanted me for Bachelorette."
Having gone through such a public heartbreak, however, Sutter can sympathize with Burnham's choice to get back together with Luyendyk. "Because of that experience, I know that when your heart is broken and you're in love with someone, all you really want is to be back together with them," she admits. "You really had a true connection, so I'm sure I would have been like, ‘Yeah, let's make this work.’"
That said, Sutter does not agree with Luyendyk's decision to get down on one knee and propose to Kufrin in the first place. "It's very easy to fall in love with multiple people," she says. "I didn't, but I can see how it could happen. I feel like I didn't let it [happen] to a degree because in my heart of hearts I knew it was Ryan. For example, at the fantasy suite with Charlie [Maher] on our overnight date, I 'fell asleep.' And that was on purpose, because I knew that I was falling harder for Ryan. So, I feel that there are ways to limit broken hearts."
DeAnna Pappas Stagliano went through plenty of heartbreak on the ABC franchises. She participated in Brad Womack's infamous season of The Bachelor and was in the final two. In the end, Womack decided he could not propose to either of his two finalists, and that was that! (Until ABC brought him back to be The Bachelor a second time around a few seasons later, womp womp.)
Pappas Stagliano went on to star in the fourth season of The Bachelorette, where she chose Jesse Csincsak. Csincsak and Pappas Stagliano split after a few months, and she says she understands what it's like to be in an unhappy relationship and try to make things work for Bachelor Nation.
"[Arie] is not a not a total jerk," Pappas Stagliano says. "I have been on the show and I know what it is like—just a mess of emotions. Not only are you dealing with what you're feeling, but you've got producers whispering in your ear the whole time. And you really want to be solid in your choice, but you just can't help it."
"The camera shuts off, and you're different. Things are very different," she adds. "I was stuck in a relationship with someone that I hated for a very long time, because I tried desperately to make it work. And there's still a lot of pressure from everyone else around you—the producers, the viewers, and everybody else. And when it doesn't [work], you're a failure.
However, like Sutter, Stagliano says there are steps that can be taken to avoid getting to the point where you pop the question to the wrong person. "You need to be sure! You put a ring on somebody's finger, and you're talking about marrying someone? You need to be sure," she says. "I feel bad for [Becca] - to be blindsided. It's a hard decision, and you have to like yourself when the cameras shut off. You have to be okay with decisions that you've made."
(Pappas Stagliano did find love through the show in the end, though—she is married to Stephen Stagliano, whose twin brother Michael competed on Jillian Harris' season of The Bachelorette.)
And Desiree Hartsock Siegfried, who competed on Sean Lowe's season of The Bachelor, is currently married to her Bachelorette top pick, Chris Siegfried.
"For Arie, maybe [Becca was] the safe bet. I know for Jason [Mesnick] it was the same thing," Siegfried says. "It was like Melissa was more of a safe choice and Molly was a little bit of a risk. I think as men, they want to be safe, and then they realize, 'Oh shoot! I preferred the risk.'"
But despite understanding Luyendyk's difficult decision, Siegfried admits she would have a much harder time taking him back. "Ew, I don't know if I would," she says. "You're always going to be viewed as the second choice for him. I would be so, 'You lost your chance.'"