DeAnna Pappas knows a thing or two (or a million) about looking for love in front of a legion of cameras. The former Bachelorette is now blissfully married to Bachelor Nation sibling Stephen Stagliano — but her love life hasn’t always been as smooth sailing as it is now.

Before DeAnna gave her final rose to Stephen off camera, she gave her final rose on camera to Jesse Csincsak during The Bachelorette Season 4. DeAnna and Jesse later broke it off, and DeAnna is refreshingly honest about the relationship. Speaking with Wetpaint Entertainment exclusively, DeAnna says she felt pressured to choose someone after her favorite, Graham Bunn, left the show. “I let producers guide my heart,” she explains. That wasn’t DeAnna’s first almost-love match; on Brad Womack’s first Bachelor season, he rejected DeAnna and co-finalist Jenni Croft, choosing not to propose to anyone in the finale.

DeAnna is quick to warn the next Bachelorette, Emily Maynard, against letting anything but her heart affect her final decision. “I hope she sticks to her guns,” DeAnna sighs in her trademark Southern twang. The show’s six-week filming schedule just “isn’t realistic,” DeAnna adds. “You’re with 25 guys you barely know, cameras rolling. It’s hard to make it work.”

 

Luckily, Emily’s no stranger to finding love in front of a camera crew — and also no stranger to DeAnna’s ex, Brad Womack. The North Carolina native famously fell in love with Brad during his second tenure on The Bachelor, dating the Texan for several months before their split in mid-2011.

ABC’s announcement that Emily would be returning to be the Bachelorette was a shock to DeAnna. “I was surprised to hear she was the next Bachelorette,”  DeAnna says, adding that Emily came to her birthday party last year and told her she was done filming her love life. “She said, ‘I’m not doing it again,’” DeAnna recalls, but empathizes with Emily’s ultimate decision. “It’s an opportunity. You can’t turn it down.”

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