After watching the tonight’s episode, in which Shawntel Newton of The Bachelor Season 15 drives from Chico to San Francisco to crash Ben Flajnik’s Bachelor Season 16, Episode 3 cocktail party, you probably wondering: What’s the history here? Did Ben and Shawntel know each other already? Did they more than know each other?
In the clip, Shawntel says she’s only doing this because Ben is The Bachelor. Her feelings for Ben are strong. He’s everything she’s looking for in a guy. She thinks he’ll be “pleasantly surprised” when he sees her.
Ben Flajnik and Shawntel Newton's Past: He Said/She Said
Last week, Chris Harrison teased Shawntel’s arrival in an interview with TV Guide, saying the “mystery woman” “is someone from Ben's past, but also someone from our past. The contestants immediately assume it's an ex-girlfriend... and it's definitely a he-said/she-said thing [for the woman and Ben].”
So that implies that Shawntel and Ben see their pre-Bachelor relationship a little differently.
Back on October 6, shortly after Shawntel went to San Francisco to tape Episode 3, Spoiler King Reality Steve shared details about Ben and Shawntel to give some context for why she was returning to the show.
"I’ve heard from numerous sources that Ben and Shawntel had definitely had communication before last Friday night in terms of speaking with each other,” Steve wrote. “I don’t think they’d ever met up, or gone out on a date, but I know they had texted, emailed, and tweeted each other before."
So maybe she never got as far as hanging out with Ben, a la her Season 15 buddy Britt Billmaier, but she and Ben were in communication.
Ben and Shawntel Have Heartbreak in Their Pasts
Shawntel blogged about The Bachelorette Season 7 for The Bachelor Contributor and had kind, if not gushing, things to say about Ben.
To quote her finale blog: “I said this in my last blog; Ben is in a win-win situation. He has grown a lot during this journey. With or without Ashley, Ben is now in a better place. […] Watching Ben come off the plane first, I was not too sad. Yes, it’s going to hurt Ben for a bit, but I really think that JP [Rosenbaum] and Ashley [Hebert] are meant for each other and Ben was able to grow regardless. The rejection is strong and hurtful, but once that realization is clear on why things happened the way they did, you know it’s for the better. That’s how I felt with Brad. At first I was very upset, but soon after I was able to grow from the experience and move forward. We all saw how upset Ben got. And we don’t blame him. Like I just said, it’s a hard situation and you are very vulnerable. I liked how Ben said, ‘Don’t sugar-coat this.’ SO true. That makes things worse! Ben is going to have no problem moving forward and finding love.”
In August, Shawntel had an interview with The Bachelor Expert. Here’s a portion of the Q&A:
You have vocalized how you thought J.P. was perfect for Ashley. If you would have been the Bachelorette, who do you think you would have connected with?
Shawntel: “I was asked to consider being the bachelorette. I was a little hesitant though. It can be an exhausting process and I wasn’t sure if I could handle that. But watching the season I think my top four would have been: 1. Nick 2. Lucas 3. Ben 4. Ryan P. (I know a lot of people didn’t think too highly of Ryan, but I thought he was just too cute).”
Ben was her third choice at that point. Sometime between then and this fall's filming, he made the quick leap to first.
So, Were Ben Flajnik and Shawntel Newton Dating or Not?
There was also some kind of Twitter convo with the same interviewer back in August, referring to an idea that Shawntel and Ben had a lil’ sumpin’ sumpin’ between them::
@BachelorExpert: "@Shawntel_Newton Is there any truth to that? Or was that just someone's thought. I would be okay with that! You & @BenFlajnik would be cute!"
@Shawntel_Newton: "@BachelorExpert @BenFlajnik No that was just someone's thought."
So it sounds like Ben and Shawntel knew each other and communicated in some way but never really dated before she showed up in San Francisco. They will probably clarify the relationship themselves either on the show itself — maybe on either the "Women Tell All" or "After the Final Rose" special. Or... in Shawntel’s book?
**UPDATE: Ben Flajnik speaks on the "connection" he and and Shawntel have/had in his post-episode blog. Read more here!**