by Tierney Bricker | Fri., Mar. 2, 2018 10:46 AM
Arie Luyendyk Jr. , we hope you're listening.
The Bachelor's sure-to-be controversial finale is just days away, and once Arie's shocking final decision is revealed, it's safe to say he's going to be hearing a lot of opinions, advice and comments on his relationship. But is there anyone better for Arie to actually take advice from than Ben Higgins, arguably the ABC hit franchise's most beloved lead who also found himself in hot water during his season after telling both Lauren Bushnell (who he eventually proposed to before splitting in May 2017) and JoJo Fletcher that he loved them, a move Arie also pulled in the penultimate episode?
E! News spoke with Ben, 29, just after he returned from his latest charity trip to Honduras for his new company, Generous Coffee, and while he hasn't spoken to Arie recently, Ben told us he wishes the race car driver would reach out to him.
"He's a really good dude and I think he's getting himself into a situation where even though he's older and probably a lot wiser than I am, I think I could help him," he said. "I've been there! I've been in a very similar situation before and I get why he did it...if it was the right or wrong decision to tell two people he loves them. What we forget as fans, especially towards the end, it becomes a very real experience. I think that's why we still watch it and why people still love it, because we know how real it is in those last few weeks."
And as we head into the final week of the season, the feelings have never felt more real, as E! News reported that Arie proposed to one woman at the end of the finale, only to change his mind after filming ended and is now dating the runner-up. Obviously, viewers heard him tell both of his final two women, Lauren Burnham and Becca Kufrin, he loved them multiple times, but to pull a Mesnick is still shocking and he's already dealing with the backlash (and prepping for more).
But Ben said that Arie is "going to be OK," explaining, "There are a lot worse things to be criticized for than loving too hard," just so as long as he owns his decision.
"I get how you can be in situation where you're like, I have the strongest feelings I've ever had for two people and I need to tell them that. I get that you can think it's the right decision to do it and as humans it's OK to make the wrong decision. That's fair, that's what life's about. We're going to learn from it. But we gotta admit to it when we make the wrong decision," Ben said. "And I want to tell Arie right now like, own this. This is your story, this is how your world played out…I hope God willing this relationship that he's in right now is something that is meaningful and lasts and is full of love, and this woman that he's with understands that he was trying his best, and at the end of the day, he picked her and he loves her and she picked him. He needs to own this time and I hope he does that. I hope he keeps his head held high and understands that what he did is something he felt was right in the moment. If it was or wasn't, it's not for us to judge. That's up to him and his relationship."
In addition to his very sage words of wisdom to Arie specifically, Ben also had advice for the Bachelor and his current girlfriend, revealing an intimate moment between him and Lauren Bushnell right after their finale proposal aired that he wishes he could take back.
"We were so happy. I'm not kidding you, Lauren and I had something that was so good and we were so happy and we're like two kids. I was 25 years old and she was 24. We were like, what a weird world we are living in and we love each other! This is good!" Ben recalled. "We did this whole press tour and after it we were in the car driving home and I think we both were not talking to each other and we felt empty. Lauren was always really good at explaining where the pain was coming from where I couldn't, and she goes, 'Ben, this is literally the happiest moments of my life and all I've talked about for 24 hours is the fact that you told two people you love them and if you still love JoJo or not and that's affected me.'"
For Ben, the moment "sucked" because "it was so unfair" to Lauren and there was "nothing" he could say to make it better. But now, he does have something to say and he's offering season 22's couple this advice after going through that experience:
"Give some grace. Understand the world that you just came out of and understand it's really hard to make the right decision in that world. If you got through it, if you picked the right person, hopefully both people understand that is a really huge blessing. But almost start over. Not start over with your feelings, because I believe their feelings could be very real and I know mine were, but start over and let's start a blank slate and forget about what happened and how we got to this point but understand we got to that point. That we're now sitting here in a world where we just got to fly across the country and do all these really cool opportunities that we never would've got to do before and this is how our relationship's getting built and this is how our story's getting started. If I got one second to tell Arie 'This is what you gotta do': you gotta offer a ton of grace to both parties. Just a tone of grace and ton of forgiveness."
The Bachelor's two-night finale will air Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Check back with E! News next week to learn more about Ben's next chapter in life following his time in Bachelor Nation and how he's making a difference once cup of coffee at a time.
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