The Bachelor Rewind: Ben Flajnik Looks Back on His Wild Journey With Courtney Robertson

Before Clayton Echard begins his search for love, E! News chatted with Ben Flajnik to discuss his unforgettable season with Courtney Robertson.

By Mike Vulpo Jan 03, 2022 2:00 PMTags
Watch: Why "Bachelor" Clayton Echard Can't Rate His Season's Drama

Ten years later and Ben Flajnik is still drinking wine and feeling fine. 

Back in 2012, the Sonoma, Calif., winemaker took a chance on love as ABC's lead for season 16 of The Bachelor. Millions of viewers watched him propose to Courtney Robertson only to see the pair call off their engagement months later. 

As Clayton Echard takes the reins and begins his own search for love within the franchise this week, Ben is reflecting on his season and updating fans on his journey. 

"Time flew by honestly," the 39-year-old Frequent Flyers author exclusively shared with E! News. "It's interesting that it was so long ago and still today, I'm associated with this mega franchise, although I've kind of hidden from it for so many years. But it's a part of my past and something that I remember fondly."

Unlike other former contestants who've participated in ABC's reality show, Ben shies away from sponsored Instagram posts and red carpet events. Instead, he works with Voyage Foods, a company aiming to future-proof food.

Bachelor Nation's Still-Rosy Romances

As for why he stays out of the spotlight, Ben recalls just how tough the tabloids were when it came to his relationship with Courtney, especially after she was portrayed as the villain throughout the season.

Craig Sjodin/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

"I remember it being very difficult for both of us, but more so for her," he said. "It didn't help with our potential relationship continuing on. It was us against the world so that made it even harder. I think that's part of the reason why I disappeared." 

Ben continued, "I remember getting killed by the paparazzi in San Francisco. Courtney was in town visiting one time and it was just icky, the worst feeling ever. I remember I had to speed away in my car to get away from this car that was tailing me. It was just bizarre." 

Although the pair experienced a public breakup, with Courtney sharing her side of the story in the best-selling book I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain, Ben said he's in a good place with his ex today. 


"It's totally fine. We made amends a number of years ago," he said. "We didn't speak for a while, but my sister still chats with her. I understand she just had another kiddo and my sister just had another baby so they still chat about mom things. And that's great. I'm glad they have a relationship."

After nearly a decade, some fans also can't seem to forget the moment when Ben and Courtney enjoyed midnight skinny–dipping in Puerto Rico. With Bachelor in Paradise turning up the heat in recent years, some think the beachside date now looks pretty PG. Ben can't help but agree.

"I didn't think it was that big of a deal at the time," Ben said. "It's skinny-dipping and you're filming this television show and I was falling for Courtney at that point so it seemed like a good idea at the time."

For more memories of Ben's season of The Bachelor, keep scrolling below.

Blast From the Past

During season 16 of The Bachelor in 2012, winemaker Ben Flajnik began his search for love with a cocktail party. What came next was an unforgettable season of television. 

First Impressions

While there were plenty of grand entrances on night one, there was one woman that stood out from the rest. "Lindzi Cox on the horse was a pretty memorable one," Ben told E! News. "That one was tough to forget. That would probably be the biggest entry." She would end up making the final two. 

All Eyes on the Prize

Fans quickly formed an opinion on front-runner Courtney Robertson because of her aggressive but playful spirit.

Familiar Face

Before she starred on Married at First Sight and found her husband Doug Hehner, Jamie Otis was one of the ladies hoping to receive a final rose from Ben. 

Unforgettable Date Nights

There were "so many" lavish dates, but Ben shared some of his absolute favorites. "Jumping out of a helicopter with Lindzi in Belize was pretty crazy," he said. "Scaling the Bay Bridge is still the scariest thing I've ever done. That was with Emily O'Brien." 

More Than a Host

Host Chris Harrison, who left the franchise in June 2021 after controversial racial remarks, made a lasting impression on Ben. According to the Bachelor, Chris was nothing but classy and supportive. "I looked to him as a friend and we're still friends. We chat every once in a while," he said. "Chris was very supportive and I'll never forget time off camera and having dinner with him and some of the production and just kind of relating on a different level, finding a little bit of help in decision making along the way."

Hometown Dates

When traveling to Arizona to meet Courtney's family, Ben was met with some skepticism from his possible future mother-in-law. Ultimately, the chemistry between Ben and Courtney proved to be strong enough for a finale moment.

Fairy-Tale Proposal

Even though Ben's romantic relationship with Courtney didn't survive after the show, he's still grateful for the show and experience. "I'm happy. I'm at peace," he told E! News. "We've got a growing family. My sister just had her second kid and we're all in very close proximity. We're focused on family and work and community. That's really all I'm after at this point." And yes, he's currently single. 

The Bachelor kicks off a brand-new season Monday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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