It's always a bummer when a Bachelor couple announces they're over. One such couple is Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell, who got engaged during The Bachelor Season 20 finale back in 2016 and within a year called it quits. While Bushnell recently announced she was engaged to country singer Chris Lane, fans may be wondering if Higgins ever similarly moved on. It turns out he has: Ben Higgins' current girlfriend is Jessica Clarke, a 24-year-old Nashville resident and University of Mississippi graduate.
In May 2017, Higgins and Bushnell officially announced their split. In a statement to People, they wrote, "It is with heavy hearts that we announce our decision to go our separate ways. We feel fortunate for the time we had together, and will remain friends with much love and respect for one another. We wish nothing but the best for each other, and ask for your support and understanding at this time."
Fans may be disappointed, but the pair admittedly had a rocky start from the get-go. During the season finale, Higgins professed his love to both Bushnell and the runner up, JoJo Fletcher, which likely cast a shadow of doubt over the entire relationship. After the two split, Higgins had one low-profile relationship but stayed mostly single up until this year.
It wasn't until Higgins approached Clarke that he finally went public with a relationship again. The way he met Clarke is a love story for the modern age: Higgins said on his Almost Famous podcast that he initially saw her Instagram profile while he was visiting Nashville. He was immediately smitten, but waited almost six months before literally sliding into her DMs and shooting his shot.
"I saw this picture and I said, 'Holy cow. This girl is gorgeous,'" Higgins explained on the podcast. "I said something along the lines of, 'Don't ask too much about how I saw your profile. I can explain later but if you're single, please message back.'"
Based on Clarke's Instagram, the two appear to have similar interests. They both share a love for sports and outdoor adventures, as the two recently have pictures of a snowboarding trip in Colorado, as well as a hiking trip and cruising on a river in Indiana. They also have photos from hanging out at golf tournaments and at Vanderbilt baseball games, which Clarke's brother used to play for before moving on to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Clarke also shares Higgins' humanitarian streak, posting a picture where she worked alongside Humanity and Hope (a nonprofit that helps overseas villages with infrastructure, healthcare, and education) and Higgins' own company, Generous Coffee (which invests in under-resourced communities). Generous Coffee's own Instagram lists Clarke as one of its ambassadors, which is a great sign that Clarke is supportive of Higgins' ambition and passion.
And it's clear Higgins is pretty sweet on Clarke, as he spoke to Us Weekly in June about having the “wedding bug” after watching his Almost Famous co-host Ashley Iaconetti get married. “I think it’s exciting, right? Especially to see two people walk into marriage with such a positivity to it," Higgins explained. "So that gives me the wedding bug, is just seeing how confident they are in walking into that special day.”
He went on to say that “Jess and I have some timelines set. We still do long distance and we are going to talk about next steps in August." So a wedding may or may not be in the cards soon. Regardless, it's clear Higgins is happy with Clarke. At Iaconetti's wedding, Higgins admitted on his podcast that he started crying hard and Clarke "looked up at me and she took my hand and just squeezed it and just sat and looked forward." Higgins added, "This is a girl that loves me. This girl loves me. She's in it with me no matter thick and thin, so that was sweet."