Among the six endearing daters in Dating Around Season 2 is Ben, a “brilliantly smart and compassionate” professor whose only romantic experience before going on the show was a 10-year relationship. Going from that to dating a series of strangers on camera is quite a leap of faith, but Ben says he was looking for some perspective. “The possibility of meeting the love of my life on the show, of course I was open to that,” he says. “But what I was looking for was to really push myself outside of my comfort zone in a way that I had never really done all of my life.”
Ben told producers he was looking for “kindness, empathy, understanding, [and] generosity” in a partner, qualities he believes the producers found in all of his five dates. “Every single woman that I dated [was] absolutely incredible,” he says.
Though Ben was grateful to spend the evening with all of them, it was musician Alex who he connected with the most. “We just had so much in common, and there were so many things that we both were so passionate about and cared so deeply about,” he explains. The episode ended with Ben greeting Alex with a picnic basket for a second date.
Sadly, their romance fizzled out shortly after that. “I definitely thought she was a pretty remarkable person in every way,” he says, but their interest levels just didn’t line up. Differing schedules further interfered, and after a few exchanged texts, they parted ways. A disappointing end, but as Ben notes, “It’s important to respect other people's feelings” and move on.
Since then, Ben has slowly eased back into the dating world, a “terrifying” experience without a whole team of producers there “holding you every moment,” he says. Coincidentally, after filming ended, an acquaintance of Ben’s expressed feelings for him, and the two eventually had a brief relationship and mutually ended things in February. “We had this really lovely romance, and it ended in a really amicable, mature way,” he says. That, coupled with his time on Dating Around, gave him a “broader frame of reference for what relationships can be.”
Basically, Ben has had a crash course on romance since Dating Around, and his experiences have taught him both more about himself and how he approaches the world. In particular, he’s learned how to redefine what it means to be a “nice guy,” a now loaded term that one of Ben’s friends used to introduce him on the show. Ben says he prefers to describe himself as someone who practices “proactive kindness.”
Dating Around has also given him a more thoughtful and nuanced view on relationships in general. He explains that in the past, if someone didn’t reciprocate his feelings, he always saw that as “a personal shortcoming,” and it wasn’t until recently that he realized that “two people can be absolutely incredible individuals” on their own and yet not have any chemistry. “And that is not a comment on any failure or shortcoming of that person. It just means that that dynamic wasn’t right,” Ben says. “Coming to that understanding, that realization...has made me feel more comfortable and confident about any future relationships that I might have.”
Overall, Ben’s journey post-Dating Around has been defined by introspection. “When any relationship ends it's a little sad,” he says. “But generally speaking, I view it as this really wonderful, peaceful, healthy growth experience. And I'm looking forward to the next one.”
This article was originally published on