As Bachelorette Becca Kufrin and new fiancé Garrett Yrigoyen approached their first days as a public couple back in 2018, they knew it wasn't going to be all sunshine-y professions about how they couldn't wait to go grocery shopping and chatter of how they'd rather never again look at roses.
It was time to address the cloud of controversy that had loomed large over their burgeoning love story all season long. Those Instagram likes.
Pegged as a frontrunner after his soccer dad schtick helped him nab the first impression rose, the medical sales rep from Reno had already apologized, saying he'd learned "the power behind a mindless double tap on Instagram," and that, frankly, the transphobic and homophobic memes he'd "liked" on social media "were not a true reflection of me and my morals."
But now that it was clear that he wasn't destined to be a footnote in reality TV history or even a late arrival to Paradise, but rather half of an officially sanctioned Bachelor Nation couple, well, it was going to take more than a carefully worded statement for everyone to leave his bad behavior in the past.
So the pair dutifully made the rounds, explaining that part of Yrigoyen's amazing journey involved a wake-up call from his decidedly more progressive fiancée.
"The Instagram situation, I don't condone that," she told E! News unequivocally in an August 2018 interview. "I know that he stands by his apology and he feels so bad for everyone that he did offend, and he didn't mean it, but I just want to move forward and to learn and to grow, and to continue to educate ourselves, and that's all you can ask for in another person, is that somebody who recognizes if they make a mistake and do something wrong, and want to learn and grow from it, and that's what he's shown me."
He hadn't really considered the hurt he was causing by validating hateful messages, he shared, "until she brought it to light with me and we addressed it and we talked about it. But at the end of the day, I'm human, I make mistakes and it's a mistake I hope to never make again."
He hadn't considered, though, the possibility of making new ones. Some would argue he didn't do anything wrong per se with his June 4 post of the "Thin Blue Line" symbol, sharing his support for cops amid a national uproar to address the ongoing issue of police brutality against Black people. But his fiancée of two years is not among them.
"I don't think he meant it in a malicious way," the 30-year-old former publicist stressed while discussing the issue with Bachelor Happy Hour cohost Rachel Lindsay hours later. However, she continued, "I do think it was tone-deaf, and it was the wrong time and message and sentiment."
For Lindsay (and Kufrin's Bachelor season mate Bekah Martinez, who got into it with Yrigoyen on social media) it was more enlightening about who the 31-year-old is at his core, the attorney turned media personality noting he'd done little to champion the Black Lives Movement beyond the perfunctory black box, but had put together a clear message of support for cops that he said "put their lives on the line each and every single day for humans of different race and ethnicity, including those who hate them."
As Lindsay, the franchise's first Black lead, put it during their June 9 podcast, "To me, this is what Garrett thinks, this is what Garrett is. He posted a black box. He never said 'black lives matter.' He posted fists of every color, which to me is like, 'Everybody, all lives.' And then the very next post is the 'thin blue line' with a heartfelt, thought-out caption that he said with his chest. And to me, that is what you feel, and that is what you believe. I don't think Garrett is malicious, but Garrett is what the problem is."
His behavior has certainly become problematic for Kufrin, who shared on the podcast a week later that their romance was on shaky ground as they parse through their own personal beliefs and how they share them with the world. "It's something that we are trying to work through and discuss and do work on at home at this time," she explained to listeners.
So here they are again.
Had Kufrin met the divorced University of Nevada baseball player anywhere but in the wilds of the Bachelor mansion, there's a good chance she would have written him off. An avowed liberal who took part in the Women's March and continually expressed her admiration for then-presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had Kufrin been able to Google the suitor that'd impressed her with his desire to be "a great dad and an awesome husband" and ability to keep her laughing, she likely would have been turned off by his double tapping on posts, including one accusing a Parkland shooting survivor of being a crisis actor.
But in the champagne-scented cocoon of The Bachelorette, that wasn't an option.
"It's different, but it's nice in a way, because I was truly getting to know these guys for them, and having conversations face to face with them about things that were important to me," she told E! News post-show. "So I feel like I got a much better picture of who these 28 guys were, as opposed to just looking on their social media and trying to make a decision of who they were by not talking to them."
By the time she was handed her phone back in the Maldives, having just accepted Yrigoyen's proposal and that three-oval Neil Lane engagement ring, she was madly in love with the man that he was, a person she swore amounted to more than a few abhorrent Instagram likes.
"At the end of the day, I know who he is to his core, he's a good, decent, standup guy," she explained to E! News. "I never wanted his social media, those likes to define him."
Besides, she'd been very clear about her entrenched beliefs and her commitment to activism. "On the show, we had conversations that weren't aired about our political beliefs and my social activism, because it's something very important to me," she noted to Minnesota Monthly. And so Yrigoyen came clean about his less than savory behavior before they even stepped food on U.S. soil. "I mean, honestly, it was an issue we talked about right away, after the proposal," she said. "He's been very upfront with his apology and he stands by that."
It was certainly a hurdle they had to scale straight out of the gate. "When I was liking things, it was going against what she stands for, and that made it really hard on us as a couple," he allowed to E! News. But as they started hashing it out, "We got through that together, and we're growing, we're progressing, and we're moving forward."
So they made it through that post-rose gauntlet and set about figuring out how to build a life together, spending time first with her fam in Minnesota, then his clan in Reno before landing together in a two-bedroom apartment in Carlsbad, Calif., some 35 miles outside San Diego, with little more than a TV and his brother's air mattress.
Their troublesome origins largely dealt with, they set about dealing with the myriad smaller issues that come with the merging of two lives. He discovered she tended to talk in her sleep; she learned what it's like to have a male roommate. "It's my first time I've ever lived with a guy so it's been an adjustment," she admitted to E! News last May. "I was used to living on my own so now it's coordinating our schedules and our ways of living but it's been so fun."
Other than accommodating each other's quirks and explaining for the umpteenth time that, no, they hadn't even begun to look for a wedding venue, their union was quite a bit of fun, a mix of vacays to Thailand and Bali and home cooked dinners courtesy of Chef Yrigoyen, complete with a Bachelor-friendly soak in their hot tub.
"One of my favorite things about him is his sense of humor," the BtheLabel designer explained of the glue that bonds them. "He can find the funny in everything. He keeps me laughing and smiling and that's really important."
There's little joy to be found in their current situation though.
With the reckoning that is the year 2020 forcing everyone to examine their own thoughts and behavior, she and Yrigoyen have had to acknowledge the chasm that still exists in the way they view the world. And it's left the normally confident Kufrin struggling, with her words, with her feelings, with questions about if she still wants to do the damn thing.
Having listened to that initial Bachelor Happy Hour podcast where she and Lindsay discussed both Yrigoyen's post and the more general issues that come with systemic racism, she felt she'd come up "very short", going on Instagram to share a bit of the thoughts taking residence in her mind.
"Throughout the episode, Rachel & I talk about what has been taking place across our country, the Black Lives Matter Movement, underlying issues of white privilege, diversity & changes that can take place within systems like the Bachelor Franchise," she wrote. "This conversation was the hardest, most uncomfortable, but important ones that we've had. I value my friendship with Rachel. I also value my partnership with Garrett. So this is really effing hard. As it should be."
And there's no indication it will be getting any easier as Kufrin does her best to come to a solution with the man she loves so fiercely.
"Things haven't been good between them, but Becca is willing to work it out with him because she loves him," a source tells E! News. "They are trying to have more conversations and come to an understanding."
What awaits in this next chapter of their journey is unclear, but one thing is certain, it's sure to be dramatic.