TV & Movies

Clayton Thought Susie Wanted To Leave The Bachelor To Become The Next Bachelorette

“I started looking at her as if she was playing me the entire time.”

ABC/John Medland

It’s been a tumultuous week for The Bachelor’s Clayton Echard, who was accused on social media of gaslighting Susie Evans during Fantasy Suite week. To recap, the Season 26 lead professed his love to all three remaining women and confessed to Susie that he was intimate with both Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia during their respective overnight dates. This did not sit well with the video producer, who revealed a little too late that sleeping with the other women was a dealbreaker.

Although many Bachelor fans agreed that Susie could have vocalized her expectations earlier, Clayton’s reaction to her boundaries sparked a lot of backlash online. “I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore,” Clayton told Susie. “You just dropped a bombshell on me, and I don’t agree with it at all how you went about it. I think it’s BS.” Later, he told the Virginia native that she invalidated their entire relationship and that anything she said from that point on didn’t matter.

Now that the 28-year-old athlete has had some time to reflect, he said he feels very “embarrassed” for how he acted. “I knew that this moment was coming,” he said on the March 9 episode of Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti’s “Almost Famous” podcast. “I kind of alluded to it in previous weeks, and so I’m not exactly shocked by the reactions online.” He did, however, want the opportunity to explain what was going through his head at that particular moment in time.

ABC/Craig Sjodin

“I started having these really dangerous thoughts of like, ‘What if Susie right now is just trying to get out of this? What if she’s just saying whatever she needs to say to leave me so that she could be the next Bachelorette?’” Clayton recalled. According to him, this fear stemmed from being played by some of the other women, including Sarah, who he sent home after finding out that she was lying to the other women about their relationship in hopes of getting them to leave.

Clayton also said that while his conversation with Susie began in a cordial manner, the tone shifted when he started to have these thoughts. “At that point, I started looking at her as if she was playing me the entire time,” he explained. “And that’s why I said, ‘I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore.’ Because in that moment I really believed at that point that she was just feeding me whatever she needed to so that she could be the next Bachelorette.”

The reality star clarified that he no longer thinks that was Susie’s intention, but fully believed it during their explosive conversation. “I don’t believe that now, I didn’t believe that the next day, but I believed it in that moment,” he said. “And because of that, I allowed my emotions to take over and nothing that she said was going to get through to me at that point because I convinced myself that you weren’t here for me, you never were.”

The series is known for casting contestants who are “not there for the right reasons,” which is why Clayton was under no impression that all of the women were there to find love. “I had other people that came here just to push their own agenda, for this to be a stepping stone,” he said. “To sit here and say that all these women came here for me — no, that’s not true at all and we all know this so let’s call it for what it is. A lot of people came here for their own personal benefit.”

Clayton went on to say that he was “freaked out” and feeling “insecure,” so he worried that Susie may have also been playing games. Unfortunately, his abrupt reaction led to a lot of harsh criticism on the internet. “It’s tough because I’ve seen what everyone is saying and they’re using some pretty descriptive terms that I couldn’t disagree with more,” he said, likely referring to the allegations of gaslighting. “But I understand that it appears that way.”

He continued, “I don’t even want to use the words because it couldn’t be farther from the truth, but what I can say is this: I did not handle it well. I didn’t. It was not handled maturely. I raised my voice to her. I was grasping at straws. I was trying to find anything at that point to get her to stay.” Ultimately, Susie didn’t stay. However, according to a March 8 spoiler post from Reality Steve, her journey isn’t quite over yet.