Season 18 of The Bachelorette has officially begun, and Bachelor Nation is already rooting for Michelle’s first impression rose recipient, Nayte Olukoya. The 27-year-old senior account executive won the 28-year-old elementary school teacher over with his charming personality and his knack for being vulnerable. However, during a recent appearance on the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast, Nayte revealed that he had trouble relating to Michelle on night one, even though he really wanted to.
“Something that really stuck out to me was talking about her parents being together for 33 years,” the Texas resident told co-hosts Becca Kufrin and Tayshia Adams. “That’s just beautiful. That’s what everybody aims for.” But unlike Michelle, Nayte didn’t have a shining example of love growing up. “I’m like, OK, so here I am, my parents got divorced when I was four, my mom and my stepdad, they just recently went through a divorce over the last two years, and I’m like, ‘Dang, I can’t relate. I want to relate but I can’t relate.’”
Although Nayte’s family life wasn’t as solid as Michelle’s, he said that the “type of relationship” that her parents have is exactly what he’s looking for. The first step to getting there, of course, is by being open and honest, which is why he told Michelle about his family history right off the bat. “I think that’s one of the first things that we talked about together,” he said. “I have such an amazing family but the whole happy ever and marriages that don’t end in divorce, that just wasn’t a part of me growing up.”
At first, Nayte said that it was “a little nerve-wracking” talking about his complicated family dynamic so early on. “She’s this crazy family-oriented person. She has that perfect example from her parents, and I guess I didn’t really have that,” he said. “So it was a little intimidating and I wanted to get that off my chest.” After he did, things only progressed from there, with Michelle giving him the first impression rose. Funny enough, Nayte had no idea about the significance of the rose as she was pinning it to his lapel.
“Obviously you can just assume it’s who Michelle had a really good first impression of, but in the world of Bachelor Nation, no I did not have a clue,” he said, admitting that Rodney had to explain why it was such a big deal. Kufrin, a former Bachelorette herself, took the opportunity to give him a brief history of the rose on past seasons. “Usually, for Bachelorettes, there is a really, really good track record of whoever gets that first impression rose is the last man standing who she gets engaged to,” she said.
“The three Bachelorettes before me — Kaitlyn, Jojo, and Rachel — all gave their first impression rose to the men that they ended up getting engaged to,” the reality star continued, adding the first impression rose “does carry weight, especially in the Bachelorette world.” “I think our pickers as women are a little bit better, so it’s a big deal,” she added. “I’m assuming some of the men knew that, so you probably did have a target on your back at one point.”
If the other men were jealous of Nayte’s first impression rose, it would’ve crushed them to find out that he got the first kiss of the season, too. “That first kiss, I was not expecting that,” he confessed, adding that he’s never been a smooth enough guy to pull off the perfect first kiss. “I’m not a smooth individual, and so she kissed me, and you saw that genuine reaction where I was not expecting that, but boy, am I happy,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh wow, she kissed me. This is amazing. What a great first night.’”
While the first night may have been great, it seems that Nayte may have set himself up for an even better season. “I remember I joked with her, like, ‘You just opened up like a can of worms because every time I see you now I’m gonna want to kiss you,’” he recalled. “The connection was just like, I never had sparks fly, and it sounds all weird to say, but we had that initial connection. It was definitely sparks.”