As temporary hosts this season, Tayshia and Kaitlyn were there for Katie through it all.
Katie Thurston’s season of The Bachelorette delivered all the typical elements Bachelor Nation has come to love: endless drama, messy breakups, speculation on who wasn’t “here for the right reasons” (*ahem* Thomas), and a swoon-worthy proposal at the end. But it also did something no previous season has really done before: It centered and celebrated the importance of trusted friendships, proving that besties are essential to navigating love and heartbreak.
Co-hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe — who stepped in after Chris Harrison’s hiatus and ultimate departure from the franchise in June 2021 — brought supportive, joyful energy to this season, allowing Thurston to go through the experience with the help of two people who have been in her shoes. (Bristowe was the lead on Season 11 of The Bachelorette in 2014, and Adams filled the role during Season 16 in 2020.) “Tayshia and Kaitlyn were the perfect mentors for this season,” Natalia Juarez, breakup coach and dating strategist, tells Elite Daily. “[Their] previous experience provided Katie with strength, resilience, and hope, knowing these two women have dealt with their fair share of challenges throughout their journeys as Bachelorettes.”
Viewers watched the three women dish about everything from first date jitters to orgasms, and Adams and Bristowe delivered relatable reactions to every dramatic moment. (Remember when Bristowe asked Thurston if she meant “Operation WOWO” — the no-masturbation week — meant asking the men not to do their skincare routines?) But more importantly, they showed how having friends to share the highs and lows with can give you the strength and wisdom to make huge decisions about your future — whether that’s finding the one or leaving a toxic relationship in the dust.
The Power Of Shared Experiences
The idea that friends can play an important role in your romantic life isn’t new — anyone who has watched Sex and the City can tell you that much. But friends offer more than just a standing weekly brunch date to vent about bad dates. “There is so much that a friend can offer that your partner or family simply can’t,” Juarez says. “The role of a good friend is unique in that it’s a chosen bond based on trust, respect, love, compatibility, compatible values, and often shared history.”
That shared history played a central role in Adams and Bristowe’s mentorship of Thurston. “We could relate to [Thurston] on another level that not a lot of people can,” Adams told Elite Daily in June. Bristowe added, “I think we were able to validate a lot of her feelings and give her that confidence that she might've needed at some times during the show ... Tayshia and I both said, ‘Gosh, we wish we had that [on our seasons].’”
One moment that really stood out to viewers was Thurston’s self-professed “lowest” point —when frontrunner Greg Grippo self-eliminated unexpectedly after a blowout fight. As Thurston sat alone on the bathroom floor, Bristowe approached, sat outside the door, and offered a listening ear. “I just wanted to come in here and see you and talk to you,” Bristowe said through the door. “I totally get it. There was one point where I cried into my salad and I said that I was done … It gets to such a hard point right now, especially with this happening.”
Thurston later said this helped her have the courage and confidence to move forward. “At that moment, I was at my lowest and really wanted to leave,” she told Us Weekly. “And if it wasn’t for the amazing women who have been Bachelorettes before helping me navigate that, I probably would have. … I’m so thankful for all of them.”
While it’s tough to speculate on how things would have gone down with Harrison as the host, it’s undeniable that he would have reacted differently in situations like this one. “The chemistry is different [with Adams and Bristowe],” says behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva. “Having shared experience and intimate knowledge of what Katie was going to experience and endure throughout the season was invaluable in guiding her.”
A Judgment-Free Zone
In addition to wisdom, friends can provide a sounding board when you need outside opinions on a situation. “Good friends are an essential component of a healthy dating life,” Juarez asserts. “They offer us a safe space to debrief our experiences and feelings about our dating experience in a judgment-free space, which is so important, especially in the delicate, early stages of dating.” Early dating is tricky for anyone to navigate, even if you’re not doing it on a TV show, and it helps to have people to process your feelings with out loud.
From night one, Adams and Bristowe challenged Thurston to think about her plans for navigating the process. “What if a guy tries to kiss you [on] night one?” Adams asked. “I will absolutely kiss a guy on night one,” Thurston responded. This level of honesty signaled a strong and robust bond between them. “[Friends] can offer helpful advice based on their understanding of who you are, your core values, and your relationship history,” Juarez explains. That includes pushing you to give people a chance (as Bristowe said, “don’t rule anyone out”) or calling you out when they’re concerned about a relationship you’re in.
Friends can also pick up on little changes in you that you might not even notice. “They are the first to notice changes in your mood, attitude, or personality, and they may mention things based on seeing these changes,” Silva says. After Thurston’s fantasy suite with Blake Moynes, which proved to be the tipping point in her final decision to choose him, Bristowe was there to help her unpack her feelings. “This is so romantic,” she said happily when Thurston shared all the details. “I told you that everything is going to make sense … That all probably happened with Greg to reassure you and give you more clarity.”
To this day, Adams and Bristowe are still incredibly supportive of Moynes and Thurston’s happy ending. “I love you both so much,” Bristowe commented on Thurston’s first Instagram with Moynes. “You two have always been meant to be. Such a strong couple and I can’t wait to see you two thrive TOGETHER.” Adams commented on Moynes’ post: “So incredibly happy for you guys!! Cheers to new beginnings!!”
The BFF energy remains strong, and thankfully, it’s not over yet. Adams and Bristowe will return to host Michelle Young’s season, which premieres on Oct. 19. “Although Kaitlyn and Tayshia aren’t professional hosts, they are captivating us and making it appear seamless,” Silva says. “It feels like a conversation with your own friends.”
Now, go hug your besties and thank them for everything you’ve been through together! Who knows where you’d be without them?