Ashley Hebert (pronounced Ay-bear), 26, doesn’t blame anybody for being frustrated with her on The Bachelor Season 15. “I take responsibility for a lot of wasted time,” Ashley tells reporters in a shorter-than-usual post-elimination media conference call.

After her great first date with Brad Womack at the carnival, Ashley seemed to use her brief one-on-one time with Brad to complain about the “process” and seek out constant emotional reassurance. On their fantasy date in South Africa, Brad and Ashley ultimately hit a communication wall, parting ways in an awkward farewell.

Ashley says she and Brad both want to settle down and get married, but she thinks he wants someone to fit into his existing life in Austin, Texas, whereas she wants to find someone who will build a life with her.

At the time of the Rose Ceremony, she wasn’t actually shocked to be eliminated. Her “surprised” comment referred to something else entirely. In fact, if he had offered her a rose, she’s not even sure she would’ve accepted it — at least not without another long conversation to work through their issues. It was only when she got home that she realized she was falling in love with him.

Ashley also talks about The Bachelorette — although no one brings up the rumor that she’s already been chosen for Season 7 — and how she would still eventually graduate from dental school in Philadelphia if she tried again to find love. “Dentistry is the number one thing in my life right now.”

Read on for a lot more, including what she’s looking for in a man and her pick for the future Mrs. Womack.

Credit: WENN Photo: Brad Talks to Ashley H. One Last Time Before Sending Her Home in The Bachelor Season 15, Episode 9

Watching the show was frustrating because it seemed like all Brad wanted you to say was yes, you want to get married and have kids. Why weren’t you able to say that? Was it because of you just don’t want those things?
Ashley Hebert:
I think that there was a lot of miscommunication between Brad and I. I’m certainly at an age where I feel like I am ready to settle down and I am ready to kind of enjoy the finer things in life. I really think it was a lack of communication. I have to admit that through the whole process, I went into it not really expecting to feel as strongly as I did and I think I guarded myself. So I definitely learned a lot from that and I hope I can move forward and not make that mistake again.

When Brad said he thought from the beginning that you were going to be in the final two, did that make you feel better or worse?
Ashley:
Ugh, it absolutely made me feel worse. When I left, the one question I had was “Will he regret this, is this something that he thought twice about or is it something he’s really confident [about]?” So to hear him say that he thought from the beginning that I was going to be one of the two people, it confirmed what we had in my mind and it made it harder for me to live with the regret of being so closed off. It was definitely a lot harder to hear that.

What did you guys talk about on the fantasy date night, other than mosquito nets?
Ashley:
Oh gosh. Brad and I talked about a lot of things. I feel like we should’ve talked about the important questions that we touched upon at dinner, but we just continued on with our really fun, light relationship and I think that’s where things went wrong. We had the opportunity to talk about the more serious things and we both opted to take the light way out, I guess. I didn’t answer all the questions that he needed, he didn’t answer all the question I needed, so I think in the end we ran out of time, and that night was the demise of our relationship.

You said you were shocked when Brad told you he was letting you go. Why were you shocked? Was it more that you saw yourself having a better connection with Brad than the other two, or that you were shocked by the whole process of him letting you go?
Ashley:
I’m really glad that you asked this question because it’s a misconception for people that are watching. When I said I was really surprised, it wasn’t that I was surprised that I was leaving — ‘cause I knew I was leaving — I was surprised that from start to end that it came to this. That our relationship was falling apart. I’m really glad you asked that question. Hopefully it cleared that up a little.

It seems like when you guys were in South Africa, your feelings for him had changed a little bit. Before you seemed more nervous, and in South Africa you seemed less nervous and almost over Brad.
Ashley:
It’s really funny that you say that, because I actually felt the opposite. I was more comfortable with our relationship and with him in South Africa, just because of the hometown date. The hometown date went so well, after that point I thought to myself, “I think this is really it for us.” And then when I got to South Africa and thing started falling apart, I just — it was like just when I got a grasp of everything and started feeling really secure and confident, everything fell apart. So I actually felt really good in South Africa — until dinner!

Do you think Brad is a little bit of a hypocrite because he says it’s a two-way street but when you seemed hesitant about moving to Austin, he shut down?
Ashley: You know what’s really funny is I would’ve been happy to move to Austin. That wasn’t even a compromise for me. If I were to tell you very honestly what I felt, I think him coming down on me that night had nothing to do with me moving to Austin. I think he just really felt strongly for someone else and he wanted to highlight all the reasons why we wouldn’t work out as a way to kind of not lead me on. To be very honest, that’s how I feel. I would’ve moved to Austin. Austin’s a great city!

Did you respect that Brad didn’t put you through the Rose Ceremony and let you go before you had to go through that?
Ashley: Oh absolutely. Yeah. I think that, especially after watching it and hearing all the things he said about pulling me aside instead of not giving me the rose, I have a whole new respect for him. I left really heartbroken but after seeing that I think it kind of helped me get a little bit of closure and solidified what kind of relationship we had — which was one that was full of respect and huge admiration. So I have to say that made things a lot easier for me to hear him say that.

Obviously you didn’t know that Brad was the bachelor going in, but when you got to know him, did you think that the fact that you were in different places in your life would affect you getting the final rose?
Ashley: You know it’s really funny because a lot of people think that we were in very different places but in my mind we’re actually right at the same spot. He thought my career was just beginning, and for me the hard part — which was school — was coming to a close. I think that I never really thought of us as being in different points in our life. I thought we were right on track. [...] I think we just wanted different things out of life.

But you say you’re ready to settle down and you would’ve moved to Austin. So can you explain what was different about you?
Ashley: I think that Brad was looking for somebody — and I say this is in the most respectful way —  I think Brad was really looking for somebody to fit into his life in Austin and kind of not skip a beat, you know. And I think for me, I’m looking for somebody to create a life with. I’m not looking for anyone to fit into my life, I want to start a new life with somebody. And I want them to be open and to open to trying a new location. [...] I’m still young, I’m looking for a little bit of excitement. I think for him, he’s been through everything I’ve been through and he wants to just settle into his life and I want to settle up into mine.

If Brad had offered a rose to you that night, would you have accepted it and, if so, do you think you could’ve gotten your relationship back on track?
Ashley: Oh gosh, what a great question. I don’t — I think at that point I had a lot of questions about our relationship as well. Looking back, if I were to go back knowing what I know now, I would’ve certainly accepted it, but in that point in time I had so many questions. I think — I don’t know that I wouldn’t have accepted it, but I think we would’ve had to have a very good conversation before I would’ve accepted it.

Credit: WENN Photo: Bachelor Brad's Top 3 Ladies: Emily, Ashley H. and Chantal

You obviously spent a lot of time with Chantal and Emily in the house, so who do you think is the best match for Brad?
Ashley: You know, it changes from week to week. I thought Chantal O. until last episode, and now I’m a little bit more apt to say that he’s falling in love with Emily. In terms of what I think Brad wants out of life and a relationship, I think Emily’s probably a better match, but I love him and Chantal together. I love the way they complement each other well. There’s this playfulness that I really like to see. I think it changes from week to week

What was it about Emily particularly that changed your mind a bit in the last episode?
Ashley: It wasn’t really about Emily, it was more about Brad’s reaction to Emily. I think that once she — watching the last episode, seeing how she opened up and said she was falling in love with him, and his reaction and knowing what I know of him, told me so much. And I think that he did fall in love with her at that point. I think he was [already] falling in love with her, but her describing it for him just made him fall harder.

Do you think he’s ready to get married now?
Ashley: Oh absolutely. He made that very clear from the beginning. I think he came into it knowing that that’s what he wanted. He was looking for a wife and I think that he probably found it — and I’m really happy that he did.

Do you think part of Brad letting you go had to do with him being in love with someone else and the fact that he was just looking for things to figure out how to get to the final one?
Ashley: I actually really do feel that Brad went through it the first time [on Season 11] and he got a little bit of — people gave him a hard time for dragging girls along. And I think once he made his decision in his mind, he wasn’t going to try to string me along. That night at dinner it was very clear that he had a lot of questions and he wasn’t trying to pretend that everyone was OK when it wasn’t. So I think that, yes, I think he fell in love with somebody else. I clearly could see that with Emily that date before, so I definitely think he fell in love with someone else and didn’t want to string me along — and I completely respect that.

Was it frustrating for you that Brad himself got frustrated when any of the girls questioned the process or questioned his feelings?
Ashley: Yeah, I mean it’s a tough process. I think there was a lot of frustration throughout the whole way. But I think it’s understandable. If you’ve been in the situation I think you understand how frustrating it can be. But, I don’t know, I think everyone was frustrated at some point. We all just have to work together and move through the process.

Are you currently over the whole situation and over Brad, or would you be willing to try it again with him if it doesn’t work out between Brad and his chosen one?
Ashley: I think that no doubt we had something that was really, really strong. It was very unspoken. It was something that — we could’ve had a really great relationship. I think that throughout the process I never handled it well. I never made good use of our time. I do take responsibility for a lot of wasted time, which I think ultimately ended in me going home. [...] I think watching the show, I’ve come to realize that we are very different people and I think ultimately we both want very different things out of life, so I don’t know if I would ever […] I don’t know. That’s such a tough question, it’s so hypothetical! I don’t know if I’d ever consider dating him again, but who knows.

If your date in South Africa had come before Emily’s date, do you think things would’ve turned out differently?
Ashley: You know, actually I do. I think that — I was directly after Emily. He was done for. You know, I think he fell for her and he knew what was going to happen. I think part of the downfall of that date had to do with him falling in love with her directly, right before. I think it played a role, then again I think he had stronger feelings for both Chantal and Emily, stronger than what he felt for me. So I don’t know if it would’ve changed the end result, but I certainly think the quality of our date would’ve been a bit better.

You said you knew Brad wasn’t going to pick you. When did you realize that?
Ashley: I don’t remember the exact point. I think at dinner, at the end, after all the questioning and us both realizing it was over I had a feeling that I would be the one going home. Then especially after the overnight date, things just didn’t get better. So I think it was a combination of the whole day and then the night I knew I was going.

You were the one hold-out in terms of telling Brad you were falling for him. Do you regret that? How were you feeling about Brad? Were you falling in love with him?
Ashley: When I was there, I personally didn’t feel like I was ready to say I love you. I think love means so many different things to so many different people, and in that moment I couldn’t say that I was in love with him. I think that I was falling in love with him, but I couldn’t say it to him. I don’t know if it was because I was guarded, I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t feeling it, but when I got home I realized that I did love him. But at that point it was too late. It was done. What was said was not that.

Credit: Raphael Mazucco/Sports Illustrated Photo: Ashley Hebert in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition: Shot 12

Why did you want to go on The Bachelor in the first place, knowing that millions of people were going to watch you fall in love?
Ashley: You know, to be honest, one of my friends put me up to it. I thought, you know I’ve been single for about four years, why not? I didn’t think through it, initially. I think I was doing it a lot for the hopes of coming out if it in a very great relationship, a little part going through the experience, you know, it’s kind of like the whole package. I thought I had nothing to lose at that point.

What is your best memory from the experience?
Ashley: Oh gosh that’s such a good question and I was actually just telling somebody the answer to this. It was on Brad and I’s date in Vegas, right before we went on stage. We were lifted about 50 feet above the ground. We had a few minutes there right before we went on, and it was honestly the best time of the whole experience. We just looked in each other’s eyes and the romance was really there and the anticipation and just the excitement. So I would have to say those three minutes were the best three minutes of the whole two months.

Would you consider being the next Bachelorette if given the opportunity or, if not, participate in Bachelor Pad 2?
Ashley: Oh gosh. Yeah, I don’t think I would be as happy about Bachelor Pad, but if they asked me to do The Bachelorette I would definitely consider it. I feel like the process worked for me once, and I would be so excited to do it. But Bachelor Pad? I’d have to really think about it.

If you were considered for The Bachelorette, what do you think would set you apart from the other girls in the running?
Ashley: Gosh, that’s such a great question, I’m not sure. What I can say is, I do think that — maybe you guys won’t agree from watching the show — despite what I think most people think, I’m actually a really confident, secure person. I do think I have a lot to offer. I think that — that’s a really tough question. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I just think I’m a pretty fun girl to be around. I get  along really well with people. I know I’ve learned so much from the show. I feel like the show really primed me to start dating again, so that’s something I’m really excited about. So if they do want me to do it, I think I would have a really good time and I think they would be happy with the end result.

You say you’re ready, so can you talk about what qualities you’re looking for in a husband?
Ashley: As I’ve gotten older, I feel like it’s changed. I used to want a hot ticket, somebody that’s really confident and successful. But now I can honestly say the only requirement I have is just a good person. I know that’s really cliche, but somebody that’s sweet and kind [...] that shows great character, sacrifices something. I just want a good man to share my life with, that’s it. It wouldn’t hurt if he was easy on the eyes! And I need somebody that’s going to be able to kind of keep up with me, right? Those are my three requirements.

And loves to dance?
Ashley: I actually prefer that they don’t dance better than me! So that’s not as high up on the requirement list.

If chosen as the Bachelorette, how would that affect your plans to graduate from dental school and further your career?
Ashley: That’s a great question. I think that if I did decide to do it, there would have to be a compromise in my education. I’m planning on graduating in a couple of months, so ultimately I’d have to weigh the pros and cons and I would be taking a little bit of time off from school, but in the end I will be graduating and getting a job. Dentistry is the number one thing in my life right now. I will never kind of steer away from that.

How are you able to participate on the show while also being a dental student? Were you able to take time off?
Ashley: Yeah, luckily I had a lot of support from the school that I attend. I took some time off and when I got back I was in there double-time making up for all the time that I lost.

As an aspiring dentist, would you say good teeth are a requirement for any guy that you date?
Ashley: You know what, I like good teeth, but I don’t like perfect teeth. I like something that’s a little bit off. So, like, a little bit of a rotation here, maybe a little bit of a chip here. [Not] perfection, but there has to be good oral hygiene. That’s my only requirement.

How would you rate Brad’s teeth?
Ashley: Brad has great teeth! Like you saw in that one episode, I saw one of his crowns. He needs to get that replaced, but otherwise he’s in good shape.

What sort of reaction have you gotten from your parents and family, especially the Sports Illustrated photo shoot with the seashell picture?
Ashley: Oh gosh. My family and everyone back in Maine has been so supportive. [...] It didn’t matter what I would’ve done, even if I would’ve done something really, really awful my mother would’ve thought it was great! Everyone’s been really, really supportive and I’m so grateful and thankful for that. And they like the seashell picture! I like the seashells. I have some on right now, actually.