The dates won't be on national television, but former Bachelor star Ben Higgins might not be single. It's been months since he split with Lauren Bushnell, whom he met on his season of the series. The couple were happy for a time and even starred in a spin-off series called Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, but ultimately wanted different things and called off their engagement. While Lauren moved on and has been publicly dating Devin Antin, Ben has been open about needing more time before returning to the romantic world. When rumors started to spread that the star might come back to The Bachelor for another chance at love, he was upfront with fans about not feeling ready. It wasn't the right time, and Arie Luyendyk Jr. was cast.
Ben might not be looking for love on The Bachelor anytime soon, but he is more ready to put himself out there. In a recent interview with E! News, the former reality star addressed dating rumors. "I'm not trying to hide anything. I've gone on a couple dates," he said at the 2017 iHeart Radio Festival in Las Vegas. "It's been nothing but dates. I think it's been blown out of proportion. I'm not exclusively with anybody. But I am starting to put my foot back in the water." It seems that Ben won't be locking down another serious relationship anytime soon, but that doesn't mean that the star is single.
It took time for Ben to get back into the mindset of dating after breaking off his engagement. In July, he opened up about the healing process in a conversation with Ashley Iaconetti on their podcast, Ben and Ashley: Almost Famous. "At this point in my life, I am not ready to be the next Bachelor, I will say that. It just doesn’t feel right. For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel like a time in my life that I would be the best man possible for the women that would come on this season,” Ben told Ashley on the podcast, according to People. “And you know, honestly, when you’re fresh out of a relationship, I just feel like that’d be almost disrespectful, too, right? It would be really hard for me to imagine — if I were to watch my ex go and be the Bachelorette and it’s all over TV, it’d be hard for me."
That doesn't mean that he wasn't looking for a connection off-screen, and the star has been followed by speculation about his romantic life since the break up with Lauren. There were briefly rumors that he was dating fellow Bachelor alum and co-host Ashley, but she quickly shut this down. Ben is out there and seeing people. If there isn't someone special in his life right now, there could be soon.
"Life's been a little crazy for me, and it took me a while to get my mind and heart back in the place to start dating again," Ben told E! News. "But I'm starting to, and I think that's the best step. I didn't know how to start, and I'm starting. But that's about as far as it goes. There's some great people in my life. Hopefully soon I will be able to show somebody off." Fans will have to wait to find out if one of these "great people" end up being something more serious. It makes sense that the star want to have a tentative return to dating, and the fact that he took time to rediscover himself shows a lot of maturity.
In the meantime, Ben shared also some thoughts about the new Bachelor star, Arie Luyendyk Jr. in the interview. "I think Arie is going to do great. He's a little bit of a mystery, right? He's got a great story, a great background, a great family," he said to E! "He's old enough to be mature enough to go through this process and really try to find somebody." Arie is a bit of an enigma, especially for newer fans of the show who might have been hoping for more recent fan favorites like Dean Unglert or Peter Kraus. As one of the show's more insightful alumni, Ben's endorsement can only be a positive sign.
If Ben couldn't step back up to the Bachelor plate, at least he's confident in the franchise's choice. He's starting to get back out there, and while it's not exactly clear what his relationship status is, he is clearly beginning to move on. If he does remain single, there's always Season 23.