A dark cloud seems to have fallen on Mr. Sunshine. We’re used to Ryan Park’s chipper attitude from The Bachelorette Season 7, but for most of his exit interview with the media, the 31-year-old solar energy executive sounds less like Tigger and more like Eeyore. Maybe he’s just trying to scale things back for all the irritable Rabbits out there (talkin’ to YOU Blake Julian) so they don’t get annoyed by his optimism. Again.
Although Ryan says his edit on the show was fair, for the most part, he does think they played up his boisterous attitude and played down the real connection he had with Bachelorette Ashley Hebert. He can understand why some of his fellow bachelors would get tired of his cheerful attitude after so many days stuck together in the rain, but he said this is the first time he’s ever had his personality called annoying. He also adamantly defends himself as sincere, to which he says the guys who got to know him on later episodes would attest.
Now that he’s seen the show, he understands more why Ashley let him go — both times. He thinks both JP Rosenbaum and Ben Flajnik are great guys, but calls her connection with JP “extraordinary” and expects things to head in that direction on Monday’s finale. (#TeamCupcake ftw!)
Read on for more from Ryan, who actually has some well thought-out reasons for why he might NOT want to be the next Bachelor:
What was going through your mind when you were first eliminated on the show and Ashley told you at the picnic that she didn’t want to meet your family?
Ryan Park: A lot of things were going through my mind. I think you could tell if you saw that. You know, I was rather surprised. I really didn’t see it coming. After watching it now I totally understand. I see the connection she has with the remaining bachelors. But I just felt that we needed something more. It felt like, when she said she didn’t have the passion for me, or didn’t feel the spark between us, it was strange because I had felt it. I know that by saying I felt it earlier doesn’t mean that she necessarily did. I thought she did. And our date was wandering around a temple and performing Tai Chi — which unfortunately wasn’t shown on television — and not really the type of date that’s so hot and steamy. And that was our first 1-on-1 date. I guess I’ll just sum it all up and say that I was shocked.
Going back to Fiji, are you glad that you went back? Did it give you closure or do you just wish you hadn’t gone?
I’m glad I did go. When I was let go, I didn’t really totally understand. Now everything really becomes clear after watching it and seeing her interact with the other guys. But what wasn’t shown on TV is some of the really good interactions we did have together and some of the really good conversations we did have and just now it’s very obvious that the connection from her, that passionate connection wasn’t there for her. But I’m very happy I went back. It was just in my mind, thinking that if there was more time it could be a really magical ending. And, so, I’m happy I got that closure I needed
You said if you had more time with Ashley things would’ve been different. Do you think in a different situation and a different time and place that things would’ve worked out differently between you two?
Obviously timing has a place in every relationship and, you know, I definitely do think Ashley and I would work. I still feel that way. But that’s on one side of the coin. And also just looking at the progression of everything, who knows. Maybe if we had a date earlier on it could’ve sparked something and maybe she — I can’t speak on behalf of Ashley, but I don’t know if because her connection had grown so strong with both JP and Ben that it closed her off to me at the time we finally had our 1-on-1? To answer your question, I think something could have been different had it been a little bit different circumstance. Maybe if JP and Ben F. weren’t around! But that’s just the way it is.
Is it safe to say that you were in love with Ashley? Are you still in love with her now?
No. There’s obviously qualities in her that I completely admire and do love about her, but I am not in love with Ashley.
Have you found love now that the show has ended? Are you dating anybody? What is your dating life right now?
I’m not dating anyone right now. I was waiting until the show fully concludes. To be straight, I mean, I just had a complete fear of, you know — I wouldn’t even go out to coffee with a friend if it happens to be a girl for fear of having a picture pop up in a magazine and say that “He’s dating someone, right? That slimy bad guy!” No, as of right now my dating life is not exciting.
Did you approach ABC to say you wanted to go back to Fiji? Is that something you wanted to do for a while? How did it come up?
I did approach them. It was a few days after being let go. I was talking with one of the producers, who just checking in to see how I was doing. We got to talking about everything and how everything went down. And I just felt like, I said, “Yeah, I feel like I got a bad deal and just the short end of the stick.” And then I kinda started saying, “Gosh, I wish I was there, I wish she’d meet my family.” And then it progressed kind of to, “I don’t want to be portrayed or come across like Bentley did when the guys got so upset, but I wonder if I did see her one more time...” Then it was proposed that I could call Chris [Harrison] and ask what Chris thought. And, no joke, I called Chris in the evening early in the hometown dates that week. I had about a 30 minute conversation with him on the phone and sure enough he said that it would be acceptable and I went for it. I was on a plane Friday night for Fiji, and very glad I did.
If Ashley were going to give you a second chance there in Fiji, what was your strategy to compete with the other guys?
Throughout the entire, I’ll call it “journey” instead of a “process,” I tried not to focus on the other guys ‘cause at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter. Maybe that’s also why some of the stuff came out that Ryan was so “annoying” or whatever, which I’m sure I’ll get a question or two about that. If Ashley had taken me back in Fiji, you know, that would’ve been between us. I would’ve been focused on what we had and continued to build what we had and not worry about the other guys. Obviously I can realize just how far along she was with JP and Ben. Now I see it all. You just don’t know. I think when everyone watches this on the show, they think that all the various bachelors know exactly what’s going on — and you just don’t.
While you were in Fiji, it was a couple of days that you had to wait for Ashley. What was going through your head? Did you think you were going to get a second chance?
When I showed up to her place, she was so surprised. It was classic! I thought the show did a decent job of capturing that. But the energy level was really, really high there. I did feel that there was a chance. I didn’t feel that there was a great chance. I mean, I knew going out there anyway it was likely somewhat of a long shot. But I’m someone just in life — I guess I’ll call myself an eternal optimist. It’s just that I see the brighter side of things. So I thought, “You know what, I’ve got nothing to lose here and I’m going for it.” I was hopeful, let’s put it that way. It’s almost like the movie, gosh what is it ... Anchorman, you know, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”
On Ashley’s blog she said she understood why you needed closure since she thought you sensed she had second thoughts about letting you go, and she had never voiced concerns about you. What are your thoughts on that?
Yeah. As I was saying earlier, we really did have a connection even though I think it was maybe downplayed a little bit to up-play maybe some of the connection she had with the other guys. But when she was letting me go — I mean, she started crying when she was letting me go. And then the reasons, as far as not having passion or whatever, and what wasn’t shown. […] But one thing that wasn’t shown, walking out, she said a comment that she felt that I was her perfect guy and all this stuff and this and that, but she felt that she didn’t deserve me. And that, like, stopped me in my tracks on the walk out. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” And now after even watching this and seeing the theme over and over where she’s unsure of herself, now it makes that much more sense. But for her to say something like that, that was like, “what?”Like, I’m here, I’m here for you. Don’t sit there and say you don’t deserve me. So yeah, I felt that maybe there was a regret from her. And I thought that may come out in the hometowns when she went and saw people’s families and there wasn’t a chemistry there or similarities or if she didn’t envision herself joining one of the families of the other suitors. I just wanted to see if maybe there was — maybe she felt the same way I did that maybe she is regretting it.
Like you mentioned, many of the other bachelors got annoyed with you and often bashed your personality as being insincere. What was your reaction to that and what do you think their issue was? Do you believe it was simply because you were too happy, as they often said?
I believe in The Men Tell All it’s going to come out pretty clearly that they didn’t feel that I was insincere. I believe that’s going to come out pretty strongly because that’s definitely not what I got. Even from the two — the most vocal of the bunch was Blake. Even then, at the Men Tell All and everything it all smooths over. You know, we dealt with a lot of rain on this season. I don’t know about previous ones. And we were in some pretty tight areas. I gotta make fun of myself, it’s true, I’m just kind of happy being, so to speak. There’s times that you’re sitting around after being cooped up weeks on end and people get grumpy and unhappy about being in the situation. But I still maintained, I guess, a positive demeanor from early in the morning to late in the evening. I can see how that can kind of get on some people’s nerves. I definitely learned a lot about myself through that. Never before — I mean, I have wonderful friends, literally around the globe and never, ever have I ever been called insincere or un-genuine before in my lifetime. There was a little bit of that early on because I think — I don’t want to call myself “unique” or anything because I think it’s just different in that most of the time when you do see someone with a really happy outside it’s trying to cover up something inside. And I definitely don’t blame the guys for thinking that way up front. But those gentlemen that were around much longer realized that, wow, the proverbial mask is not coming off of me! That’s just the way I live my life.
Did you think Ashley was good casting as The Bachelorette?
Well, yeah, I think she was good casting for the Bachelorette! A lot of people tuned in, I guess, right? I’ve been asked this a lot, just in private from friends. “Do you think she makes a good Bachelorette?” People give their opinions or whatnot. People have to realize, man, being The Bachelorette is hard. So much scrutiny. You have to be on every day, all day long. And I guess whatever flaws a human may have or whatever — tendencies, don’t even call them flaws — are going to be magnified exponentially. It’s no secret that Ashley has — she’s a normal girl that came from a small town and got catapulted into the spotlight. It’s not secret that, yeah, she has insecurities and sometimes her self-confidence can be somewhat low. So that’s why whomever she ends up with — whether JP or Ben — I believe that either one of those gentlemen will help make her feel stronger abut herself. But to answer your question, do I feel like she was a good Bachelorette? Yeah, I knew. I cared for her deeply and I’m very happy that it was her! But it’s just unfortunate that she’s been attacked so badly for her insecurities and the elephant in the room, Bentley, and how he preyed on that, unfortunately.
Are you interested in doing more Bachelor programming? Would you want to be The Bachelor or Bachelor Pad?
As far as Bachelor Pad, no. No offense to the program, I’m looking forward to watching it, but I do not envision myself ever participating in it. Regarding The Bachelor, what you will see on the upcoming Men Tell All is that Chris asks me that point-blank if I’d do it. And as of right now I would have to say that it’s a maybe. For starters, I actually have a real job! Not that past Bachelors haven’t, right? But it’s not something that I need. It’s not like I’m aspiring to try to go into it that way. But on the negative side it’s no secret that your life becomes, I guess I’ll call it a circus. I mean, your personal life becomes everybody’s business and that’s not particularly exciting for me. On a positive note, I actually do believe in this. People say, “Oh there hasn’t been that many couples that stay together.” but I point out how about in normal dating life? I’ve dated a few women in my life and you know it hasn’t worked out. So I do believe it can work. I do believe that Ashley is really in love. So I guess it’s two sides. And I just don’t know if I would [say yes to being The Bachelor] right now.
As previously mentioned, people perceived you as over-the-top, but you said you’re an eternal optimist. Is there a reason you choose to live your life that way?
Life is just better living your life that way! Yeah, I just truly believe that being positive and living that is just so much more enjoyable and so much more rewarding. It just seems so many people [are] taken from the earth at the blink of an eye. They can be gone. Whatever your beliefs may be, we’ve got one shot — at least as it is in this life, in this body that you have. So I guess it’s unfortunate because I know that some people maybe just aren’t capable of being happy or being positive, whether it be their upbringing or whatever. I’ve just been really fortunate. I have a wonderful family and a lot of love around me and have a lot [of good things] given to me and it would be a real shame if I wasn’t optimistic and spreading goodwill with my energies, whether it be in business or interacting with people. I think we need more people to make a difference.
Have people in the past been annoyed by your personality to the point that maybe Mickey and some of the other men in the house were?
Never ever. [Laughs] I still have a bunch of friends that I am still in close contact with from high school and in college… and afterward. Everyone knows that I am very unique and with those friends I’m endeared for kind of just being happy and loving people. I wear a big heart on my sleeve. If you just don’t resonate with it, then you probably aren’t my friend! […] In this situation of being on this program, you don’t have a choice in the matter. You’re going to be around each other and you’re going to talk and it’s intense I can understand how I could’ve bothered some, especially early on if they thought I wasn’t real. That would’ve bugged the heck out of me. If I sat there and I thought someone wasn’t showing their personality or their true colors I’d be like, “Come on, buddy, be yourself.” But those that stuck around longer maybe realized it. I became real close with guys [including] Ben C. and West. No, I’ve been a good friend and I’ve never been told I was annoying before.
How do you feel you were depicted on the show? Do you think you were edited to seem even more happy? Did you have any down moments?
I think generally speaking I think they did a fair depiction of what my personality is. Clearly, I mean, they definitely overplayed [...] certain clips when, sure enough, my little boy excitement comes out. Generally speaking I think it was a fair depiction but yeah, certainly clips were overplayed and certain examples. Like Phuket, I mean Ashley breaks us up into two groups for the Baan San Fan orphanage and declared me to be the leader of the group and JP was the leader of the other group. And so, you know, we walk in there and we have all this stuff to do. And of course I was giving friendly advice of what we should be doing ‘cause guys were kind of standing around and I was supposedly the leader. But that wasn’t shown on TV, it was just “Ryan’s bossing people around.” So that’s kind of like, huh, all right, I get it. So that’s a small example. Obviously that’s just tyring to magnify that I’m annoying, am I real? But hopefully toward the end of it the general viewer realized that yeah this guy [was real].
What’s your opinion of the two bachelors left for her, since you got to know them pretty well?
First off, they’re both great guys. They’re both very different guys. You’ve got JP, who — born and raised city boy his whole life. Then you’ve got Ben, who spent a lot of time, I mean, growing up in the Napa/Sonoma area in the outdoors and spending time living in San Diego. He’s more of your typical California boy. Both guys are very solid guys that come from different backgrounds. Really I can see Ashley with both of them. I don’t think you asked this question but you may be alluding to it. I can see Ashley with both of them, but after being there and witnessing it and then watching it, I mean, her connection with JP is just extraordinary. So I just see them resonating so perfectly.
You mentioned your 1-on-1 date didn’t give you much of an opportunity for passion, so what would you have liked to do instead?
I would’ve liked to do some adventure. I’m a definite outdoorsman. I like adrenaline, a lot. It would’ve been fun to do something maybe a little scary and exciting and fun together. And in a place where I could just grab her and kiss her, frankly. You’re just flat-out not allowed to show public displays of affection at the Buddhist temple and it wasn’t encouraged walking around this open square as well. So somewhere where we could’ve had some excitement, some adventure and been free to display affection for each other. And then something with a dinner. I mean, multiple guys had dinners on rooftops and things like that where it’s just incredibly romantic — let alone, William, in the middle of [the Bellagio]. I guess that was really public. But something that was very romantic like on a rooftop instead of, you know, kind of just in a park with some people around, would’ve been nice.
Did it really take Ashley several days to reply to you in Fiji? What did you do in that time? Did it upset you that Ashley kept you waiting, since it seemed like she already made her decision?
I really did wait several days, which were long days of waiting. In truth, though, I was able to perform some work there, which is just a real testament to society these days. It’s not like I was just totally twiddling my thumbs, but it was brutal waiting. I just didn’t want her to interrupt what she had already going on with the other guys. She clearly had a set schedule set up for other guys and she had to fit me in. So I understand the wait.
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