Ashley I. Responded To Kevin's 'Bachelor In Paradise' Accusation That She Cheated On Him

ABC/Paul Hebert

An important part of moving forward is being able to acknowledge your past, so it bodes well for her future that Bachelor Nation's Ashley Iaconetti admitted to cheating on Kevin Wendt with Jared Haibon. Or at least, she admits that most people would consider their first kiss an infidelity, no matter how she personally feels about the encounter. During the Aug. 7 episode of her Almost Famous podcast, Ashley acknowledged, "I admitted before — I was dating Kevin when Jared kissed me." She then added, "Whether you call that cheating that is up to you, by most definitions that is true."

Let's back up. By now you're probably familiar with the love story of Ashley and Jared, which can be distilled thusly: They met on Bachelor in Paradise in 2015 and finally found their way into a relationship three years later, with a proposal in June. But of course, their road to romance was full of complications and obstacles, and one of them was fellow Bachelor Nation alum Kevin.

Kevin and Ashley met on The Bachelor Winter Games, left the show as a couple, and were just starting out in the real world when Jared had his big revelation about wanting to be with Ashley. As Ashley shared on the podcast, "I was dating Kevin like out in the real world for two weeks and Jared came out about his feelings and he kissed me in the airport." But not one to place the blame solely on her fiancé, Ashley acknowledged that she participated in the kiss as well, admitting that in the moment of passion, "I kissed him back." She did, however, emphasize that this was a one-time thing, clarifying, "I never kissed him again until Kevin and I broke up after my birthday on March 6."

But even though it was just one kiss, and even though it was the culmination of three years of will-they-won't-they and led to an engagement, that doesn't make it the right thing to do. And it doesn't mean that Kevin is going to feel good about it. He began his own season of Bachelor in Paradise on Monday, and couldn't hide his devastation from the camera. He talked about leaving Winter Games with Ashley and knowing at the time that he "wanted to marry her one day."

"And then all of a sudden Jared flips the switch and now he wants to be with her," Kevin added. "I did try to make it work, but if you kiss another guy while you’re dating someone else, that’s cheating in my book. That really hurt me."

Those words are probably hard to hear, and it could've been easy for Ashley to get defensive or deny the overlap in relationships after her ex accused her of cheating on national television. But instead, she honored his feelings, saying, "When [Jared] pulled me in the second time, I said was 'I shouldn’t have done that.'" No matter how overwhelming her feelings for Jared were and are, she hasn't let them eclipse her awareness of what a good person Kevin is.

The day after he called her out on the BiP Season 5 premiere, Ashley told Us Weekly that she and Kevin "never had any bad blood," and that she's "rooting for him" this season. "I know he really has daddy fever, and I want him to find somebody who he loves and can have a family with," she told the outlet.

And Jared had similarly optimistic things to say in the same interview, adding:

I have nothing against him. He’s an ex of Ashley’s. I have exes. I wish him the best. Obviously it’s awkward watching an ex of hers on Paradise, but that’s the world we live in, the world we chose to be a part of. I agree, I hope he finds somebody.

At the end of the day, everyone seems to be behaving in a really admirable way. Kevin has been open about how hurt he was by the overlap, and Ashley and Jared have been understanding about his feelings, and honest about the fact that the timing of the whole situation wasn't ideal. And those facts, more than any other, are what bode so well for these three no matter where their lives take them going forward.