Emily O'Brien is glad Ben Flajnik let her go — especially before The Bachelor Season 16 hometown dates. Ben is not the type of guy Emily would want to bring home to her family, she told reporters in her exit interview, and folks have told her she dodged a bullet (or a locomotive with a bomb on board) by not being the one engaged to the guy right now. They weren't right for each other, which she says she started to feel well before she was eliminated in Belize and certainly as she watches the show back from home.
Emily also doesn't think Ben is right for her buddies in the final four, Kacie Boguskie, Lindzi Cox, and Nicki Sterling. She believes Ben and her nemesis on the show Courtney Robertson are "what each other is looking for." Watching the show back, she sees their strong connection and understands better why he was so closed off when she mentioned her anti-Courtney feelings back in Utah. She also feels sorry for Courtney, since as a human being like anyone else, it has to hurt hearing all the negative comments from the public.
Having said that, she also says this: "Honestly, my impression of Courtney was that she was just not a nice person no matter how you slice it or dice it," Emily said. "I think that some of the things she said were just hurtful and mean and a lot of them were not provoked. [...] I think she has feelings just like anyone else, but I would just say she needs to take this as a lesson that if you want people to like you, you have to change your attitude to be nice and polite and respectful and you can't say mean and spiteful things."
Read on for more from Emily’s exit interview:
How shocked were you at the Rose Ceremony?
Emily O'Brien: To be completely honest, I wasn't totally shocked. When Ben pulled Courtney aside, it was sort of like a last glimmer of hope for me. I thought maybe, you know, he's finally listening to all... and seeing what we all see, but I think I kind of knew at that point that he was going to keep Courtney and that Rachel [Truehart] and I were going to be going home. Just a feeling I had.
Ben seemed to mention a lot how smart you were, which I'm sure on some level that's flattering, but on another level, do you think he was intimidated by how smart you are?
You know, I think that Ben and I connected really well on an intellectual level. I think that he also saw sort of a goofy, fun side of me and I try not to take myself too seriously and I think that came across to him. At least, that was my intention. So, he really didn't seem intimidated, but it's a possibility. Most of the time, I felt very comfortable around him and I think he felt comfortable around me also, so I think that we were — we are pretty much on the same page on that regard.
Aside from your conversations with Ben about Courtney, what other factors do you think led to you going home, sort of surprisingly?
Yes. Well, it's hard to know what Ben was thinking. I think that with the six women that were there, he felt like any one of us was a possibility and I think he saw things that were attractive to him in each one of us. But, I think what it really came down to was just a comparison of the chemistry between him and each of us and how that compared. So, I really — I really think that Ben and I connected really well in the friend level, but I'm thinking that he maybe had more romantic chemistry with some of the other girls — Lindzi and especially Courtney, so I think that that was absolutely a factor in his decision to send me home.
More so in this season, it seems like viewers are really sort of outraged by, you know, the moves Ben's making especially in terms of Courtney. Are you watching it back? Are you surprised by anything or, you know, watching the things that have happened?
Yes. Yes. I have seen the outrage and I've sort of been surprised by it because, you know, I think that as much as Courtney might not be anyone's cup of tea, she's still a human being and it's got to be difficult for her to hear what people are saying and to know that she's not being particularly well received. But, yes, I was a little bit surprised by, you know, how well he connected with Courtney on their first date in Sonoma. I was watching it and just sort of, you know, with my mouth open thinking, "No wonder that he was so closed off to me when I tried to speak to him about Courtney maybe showing - not showing her real self to Ben." Because, I thought she was very charming and I thought that they certainly had a connection that wasn't there between him and me and I don't know — it's — everything sort of started to fall into place when I watched that episode and saw how well they got along and how obviously attracted to her he was. So, I — you know, I didn't see that when I was there and I think I maybe would have acted a little bit differently. I would have maybe stepped up my own game a little bit if I knew that he was connecting with other women on that level. But yes, watching it, everything is starting to make a lot more sense to me.
Now that you've been away from it for a while, do you think that you were really falling in love with Ben, or do you think you got caught up in the competition of it, you know? All the girls vying for one man and you want to win?
You know, it really is a great question and I'm, you know, fairly competitive. I think most girls on the show have some element of competitiveness to their personalities and they — I think that it's really hard to disentangle that when you're there, when you're in the moment. I think that I was probably on the right track to fall in love with Ben. I definitely was not in love with him when I left. But, I saw some things in him that I really liked and, you know, I felt we had some really great times together. It's hard because you're in these beautiful locations and the dates are perfect. Everything's set up for you and you're with this great guy who’s — you know, is also there, completely focused on you and also wanting to find love. So, it's hard to know how much of it is the environment and how much of it is what's really going on in your own heart. But, for me, I tried to sort of adjust and adapt as time went on and ignore everything else other than what was going on between the two of us. And, in that sense, I felt like my feelings were strong. I wasn't at the point of being in love, but I certainly really liked the guy and I certainly liked the direction that things were going.
Jake Pavelka, the last bachelor who didn't listen to what the women had to say, picked Vienna Girardi. And we don't know if Ben is going to pick Courtney yet, but do you think that he'll be making the same kind of major mistake?
Yes. You know, it's hard to say "mistake." I think what might be right for me or what I maybe was looking for coming into the experience is maybe different than what Ben was looking for coming into the experience. I know he was open to finding love, but from the beginning he said, "You know, I'm not here looking for a wife. I'm here looking for someone to fall in love with." So, in that sense, it's possible that, you know, whoever he ends up with, it really fits the bill of what he's looking for at this point in time. I think Ben is also — you know, he's a great guy and he's not really the type of guy to let others tell him what to do or how to think and he kind of marches to the beat of his own drum. So, I think that given that he really liked, you know, whoever he ended up with it, obviously since he chose them, I'm not sure that anyone really could have said anything to detract from that because he's, you know, very much an individual and trusts his own judgment, and I think those are good, strong qualities.
Do you regret talking to Ben so early about your feelings about Courtney? You know, do you think that's what ultimately started — you know, you off on a bad foot with Ben?
Yes. It's a great question. It's one that I've thought about a lot over the past couple of months and over the course of watching the show. And, you know, really after our date in San Francisco, I thought that we were really on a good, solid path and I got to see a goofy and smart side to this guy and I really liked what I saw. But, that sort of fun, relaxed side, I think, disappeared pretty quickly once I talked with him in Park City and after that conversation, I just felt like there was sort of a negative element that became a part of our relationship. I think now after that conversation, he started to sort of see me as antagonistic to what he wanted, at the time at least, which was Courtney. So, I did get the feeling that he was sort of going through the motions with me after that, and, you know, it's disappointing, because I wish that he'd responded differently. I wish that he had sort of supported me and encouraged me at that point and not reacted in the way that he did, which was sort of telling me to be careful and what almost felt like a threat at the time. So, I think that that made me a little bit uncomfortable in my interactions with him directly after that. And, at some point, I think that we sort of got back on track to where we needed to be, but I think it was just too little, too late. And, I think that there were some red flags in my mind, too, that I'm looking for someone who respects my opinion and respects me as a person and when I have a concern, they take that to heart and, at least can respond in an appropriate way and in a way that's supportive of me and understanding. That's not the way that I felt that he responded.
One thing about Courtney is that she's very aggressive and you probably even notice that more now watching the show. She always told Ben how she felt. She wasn't afraid to make sure she had time with him. So, do you think you and the other girls should have been more aggressive like she was?
Absolute — well, I really do. And I've thought about this a lot myself. It's an intimidating environment, especially when you're on a date with lots of other women and they're all beautiful and fun and, you know, outgoing. And you know that he's also interested in all of them. So I think that it maybe chipped away at my confidence a little bit and I wish that I had been a little bit more forward in at least telling him how I felt because he seemed to respond really well to that. And, watching the show back, that's something Courtney last episode — that she seemed like the one who really... who really cared. And, I kind of — I don't know. I was upset to hear that because I felt that we all cared and we're all obviously there. A lot of us had uprooted our lives and none of us would have been there if we didn't care. It was just an issue of not maybe showing it to the same extent that Courtney did. I think he kind of always knew where he stood with her. I think she brought up her concerns and was totally open. And, a lot of us felt like we maybe couldn't do that with him. I know I certainly did after I spoke with him in Park City because I felt like he wasn't very responsive to what I had to say. So, I think that contributed a little bit to my being closed off. But, yes, overall, I wish that maybe I had been a little bit more forward - at least more expressive about the positive things that I was feeling towards Ben.
When you and Ben were talking the second time, you kind of apologized for bringing up Courtney to him. You ended up kind of talking about it again and he said you should tread lightly and something to that effect. I mean, what went through your mind when he said that? You said you kind of took it as a threat, but I mean, didn't it make you angry?
Yes. I mean, to be honest, I was sort of in [shock]. At that point, I felt like things were good and strong between us and I was expecting him to say, "I'm sorry you're going through this and you know, please continue to come to me with these issues. I've taken your opinion to heart and I'm planning on paying attention to these things." And, he really didn't react that way at all. I thought he was very defensive and, you know, the statement about "tread lightly" and "you may not know me as well as you think you do" — those things were not what I expected to come out of his mouth at all. At that point, I felt badly because I felt like I was the one who'd make a mistake, but looking bad, I think that that conversation really should have been a red flag to me. You know, I think it showed that he [didn’t] really respect what I was saying and that, I don't think, is a great sign for dealing with conflict in relationships. So, yes, at that point, I think I was maybe a little embarrassed and just surprised and sort of didn't really expect it. So, I'm not sure I reacted in totally the right way. What I probably should have done was walk out the door. I didn't do that because I sort of felt like I was in the wrong and that, you know, that I needed to make things right.
What was your reaction to seeing that he had skinny dipped with Courtney and, what's your impression of him as a guy after seeing all this stuff that he's done and said? And, like he said, sometimes not the most sensitive person?
Yes. You know, in terms of the skinny dipping, I think other girls have said this and I completely agree. I don't have a problem with it. I think it sounded like fun. We probably would have, you know, liked to have done it — maybe in a group or just... I understand the motivation behind wanting to do that with a guy that you like. But, you know, I still think you should have some element of respect for other people there. It was very early. We were only in the fifth week at that point and, you know, I think that if you make that choice and you decide to be intimate with someone in the ocean in Puerto Rico in this romantic setting, you sort of —you've got that on your mind now instead of really developing these connections with everyone. And, I don't think it was a level playing field anymore after that. And, I think it sort of clouded Ben's judgment a little bit because it was — you know, I think he had that sort of physical intimacy on his mind, instead of — instead of taking things, you know, with each woman one step at a time. And, I — I don't really disrespect Ben for that. I understand why he did. He's obviously very attracted to Courtney and wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. And, I understand that. I just wish that he had been a little bit more respectful of us and taken a second to think, "Hey, maybe - maybe this will you know - this won't keep my mind clear and help me to make the decisions that I need to make to get to the point where I need to be, which is looking for a life partner, not looking for someone just to hook up with."
It seems kind of like listening to you talking about red flags and maybe you guys were looking for different things that in the end it wasn't a bad thing that you were sent home? Do you kind of feel that way looking back on it?
You know, I do. I think I — I really liked Ben and I really enjoyed our time together — our one on one time. And, my respect for him has gone down certainly since the show has aired and since I've gotten some perspective on things. And, you know, I've had some people say that I've dodged a bullet... [or] a locomotive with a nuclear bomb strapped to it. I'm not sure that I would put it that way, but I think for sure, we were not meant to be together and he was not the right guy for me. And, I started to feel that a little bit towards the end, but I — that has been completely confirmed in my mind watching the season.
There's a lot of people that seem to be saying that maybe he deserves to be with Courtney and she deserves him. Do you feel that way? Or, do you think one of the other girls maybe would be a good match for him?
You know, I think that there's some really great girls that were there and I — I mean, I have to be honest at this point, I won't be happy if Ben ends up with Lindzi, Nicki, or Kacie. I think they deserve someone a little bit different. And someone who, I don't know, is maybe a little bit more on their level, a little more grounded and I — I'm not sure that I think that Ben and Courtney deserve each other but certainly I think they're what — they're what each other is looking for, so in that sense, I think that, you know, they may — if they end up together, I think they may be very happy with each other. We'll have to see.
If you could see Courtney and tell her one thing, what would it be? I know you had tried to apologize on the show and she wasn't really receptive to that. So, if you could see her now what would you tell her?
Yes, I haven't actually thought much about this. You know, I would just — I'd express to her regret that she had a hard time. I saw especially in the last episode that, you know, she was — she's struggling with a situation and I don't like to be the cause of someone's pain. And I, you know, I don't think that she deserves that, really. You know, we're very different people and, you know, I'm not sure that she's someone that I would really want to be an important part of my life, but I certainly think that it's sad that she — she had a hard time in the show and I think that it's also very sad that she's probably having a hard time now with some of the fall out and some of things that people are saying. You know, I think she has feelings just like anyone else, but I — I would encourage her to take this as a lesson that, you know, if you want people to like you, you have to change your attitude. You have to be nice and polite and respectful. And, you can't say mean and spiteful things. In that sense, I would just wish her luck and wish her the best and, you know, hope that we could be on good terms.
There has been a report that things are already over between Ben and the bachelorette he picked in the end. If that's true, what's your reaction to that and would that surprise you?
Yes. I have heard those. I don't know if they're true or not. I really have no idea. You know, I have a feeling, a persistent feeling from watching the show that I'm not completely certain that Ben was ready for a long term commitment. It's possible he was and I just didn't see it. So, in that regard, it wouldn't be all that surprising to me if he were not with her at this point. But, you know, it's difficult to say without knowing who he chooses in the end. And, what I can say is that I think that it's a difficult environment to have to get engaged with someone and then not be able to see them on a day to day basis, and not be able to experience real life with them. And, I think that it's an integral time in their relationship so that the fact that you have to be away from someone for several months before the finale airs is difficult and I think that in absence, it's not surprising that anyone breaks up after that. But, I do think that, you know, he knows himself well and if he is single now, I think he has probably taken quite a bit from this experience and learned a lot and I think he'll certainly land on his feet.
Let's say you weren't on the show and you're sitting at home and you're watching Courtney's behavior. You know, with even you guys, like were you just sitting at home watching this episode, like, "Oh my God, she's an awful person." Like, "How could she be saying this stuff about me and my friends?"
Yes. I'm shocked by a lot of the things. You know, a lot of the things she said to me were to my face. And, I will give her credit for that. For me, I just got very defensive about some of the things said to the other girls. Girls who I think are just absolutely think the world of. I mean, every single one of those girls that I became friends with was just a gem and had a huge heart and so fun. So, it's difficult for me to hear someone talk badly about these people, especially knowing how great they are. If I were just a viewer and watching by myself, I mean, I know that I would be reacting really negatively towards her. I think there's some things that no matter what level of editing there is, that are just inexcusable. And, knowing, you know, from being on the show that those things were not provoked by someone being mean to her first, that's the part that's most infuriating to me now. And, I'm not sure totally what the intention was there — if it was some sort of defensive mechanism, or if she wanted to go on the offensive to try to throw everyone off. I don't know what the reason is behind it. But, I can say that those things absolutely did happen — that they were shocking to me and you know, in real life, and shocking to me when I saw them on television. So, I'm not — I still don't know what the reason is. I would love to hear, you know, what it is. I think that in some ways Courtney thought she was being funny, even though no one was laughing. I think an important part of acting appropriately is to recognize other people's reactions to what you're saying and doing. As soon as the first snarky comment came out of her mouth and she realized that people weren't laughing at this and some people were kind of hurt, I think that should have been a clue to change course and maybe take a more pleasant approach to her time with us.
How has life been since the show? Have you found a lucky man?
It's been great. It's been great. Yes. I've been dating. I'm spending many hours — many, many hours a day working on my dissertation. I'm hoping to graduate in May so I have gotten right back into the swing of things and I'm enjoying watching the show. Yes. It's been great.
If you had been the lucky lady at the end of the show with the ring on your finger watching the show back, do you think the relationship would have lasted, or would you have broken things off?
It's a great question. I just don't know. I know there's several things that I would have been really, really upset about and really disappointed about. And, who knows if Ben would have shared those things with me, you know, throughout the course of the last few months and before they aired. I would probably — it would have taken probably some time to build up trust again. And I think I would have been just pretty flabbergasted by some of the things that went on. If that would have been a deal breaker for me, I really don't know. I didn't — like I said, I didn't get to the point of actually falling in love with him, so if those feelings were there at that point in time, then I may have been a little more forgiving. I know myself and I think I would have had a really difficult time watching some of what transpired.