Clayton Echard has spent his Bachelor season emphasizing that he’s looking for a lifelong partner he can start a family with. “I look for someone who will be by my side and will grow with me through the ups and downs,” the 28-year-old sales rep told Glamour. “No relationship is easy. You're going to get to a point 20 years down the road where things might change in a relationship and you might have lost the intimacy or whatever it might be ... I want someone that can have those tough conversations.”
He looks to the 29-year marriage between his parents, Kelly and Brian, as what he wants to aspire to. But it seems like they don’t quite approve of the choices he made on The Bachelor to reach that end goal. During Part 1 of the season finale on March 14, Clayton confessed to his parents that he was feeling conflicted after telling all three of the remaining women that he’s in love with them and “was intimate” with two of them. He also explained that Susie left because she couldn’t move forward knowing that he’d slept with the other women. “Makes sense,” his dad said. “They don’t want to be second or third. They want to be first.”
Brian went on to give his son some tough love. “I think you’ve gotta step back and say they have a right to be upset with you,” he said. “You put yourself in this situation. You screwed the pooch, in my opinion.” Brian also reprimanded Clayton about “grasping at straws” and trying to blame everyone but himself.
Kelly nodded in agreement. “This is not at all what I was expecting,” Kelly added. “Because I don’t know if the love of your life is gone.” She even said Gabby might be a “consolation prize.”
Brian and Kelly’s feelings were assuaged later in the episode after meeting Gabby and Rachel, both of whom they ended up liking. Among other compliments, Clayton’s mom commended Rachel for not leaving Clayton, saying, “It speaks volumes about you and that you didn’t decide to leave.” Conversely, Clayton’s dad lauded Gabby for almost walking away. “You’ve got that challenge of what transpired last night, and you did walk away,” he told the contestant, adding, “That’s pretty amazing.”
Just when his parents thought Clayton’s problems were solved with two great options, he confused them with the proclamation that he was still “conflicted” and couldn’t stop thinking about Susie. His parents wouldn’t have it, with his dad even saying, “You’re grasping at straws. That’s done, gone, and history … She made the choice to walk.” He added, “Clayton, I think you’re too caught up in ‘the one that got away.’” His mom echoed the dad’s sentiments, pointing out that Susie chose to leave.
Clayton wouldn’t budge. “It was just a little bit more special with Susie,” he said, explaining that she’s “a once in a lifetime kind of woman.” “But then you were intimate with the other two women. Why did you screw that up?” his mom finally asked. If Clayton still has a chance with Susie, as host Jesse Palmer implied when he showed up to the family gathering unexpectedly, who knows, maybe Kelly and Brian will meet Susie themselves and talk more sense into their son.
Clayton told Glamour that his parents were in disbelief when he first explained the situation to them. “‘How?’ I think that was [their] first question, [followed by], ‘What? Why?’’ he said. “My dad had also a lot of other words as well. He's a straight shooter.” Clayton told them that until you go through an experience like filming The Bachelor, “It will never make sense. But it can happen, and it did happen.”
Considering their three-decade-long marriage, it’s unsurprising that Clayton’s parents are so baffled by his decisions (which leads to what the show is dubbing the “Rose Ceremony from hell” and could even mean Clayton ends the season single, as many fans are speculating). Both of his parents have remained pretty under the radar when it comes to social media or Bachelor-related interviews, but they seem to be well-known and liked within their community. They raised three sons together who all played football in the St. Louis and Eureka, Missouri area, and Kelly is a former Washington School District teacher. According to Kelly’s Instagram, she and Brian seem to have plenty of fun together attending sports games and family gatherings.
Ultimately, Clayton told People that he tried to “follow his heart” and emulate his parents while on the show, but that he got overwhelmed by the experience of being on reality television. "I promised myself I wouldn't fall in love in love with multiple women but I fell in love with three," he said. "At that point I accepted it, but I realized I was going to have to stop using absolutes. I handled it to the best of my ability. It wasn't perfect! I learned a lot of lessons. And that's life."
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