Bachelor couple Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell officially announced their breakup two weeks ago, but if you thought that was the last we would hear from the reality stars, you majorly underestimated.
Higgins, 29, launched a podcast with fellow Bachelor alum Ashley Iaconetti (better known as Ashley I.), titled Ben and Ashley: Almost Famous, on which they've been candidly discussing things like his breakup with Lauren.
In the first episode, Higgins addressed the split by saying,
Just to be as politically correct as possible and to also be as truthful as possible, Lauren will always be one of my best friends. It's [a relationship] where I learned a lot about myself; I think she learned a lot about herself. Obviously, she knows me better than anybody else that has gone through this experience, and really probably anybody else in the world. It's tough.
While everything sounds amicable, a breakup is a breakup, and a relationship that began on TV is obviously subjected to the very watchful eye of the internet.
And as anyone even somewhat in the public spotlight could probably tell you, Higgins is clearly seeing firsthand just how opinionated the internet can be.
In an emotional Instagram post on Tuesday, Higgins again addressed the breakup, but this time he also had some pointed words for his naysayers.
You are going to hurt somebody, you are going to hurt somebody deeply. But, I will not be one of those people. I cannot focus on the negative comments or indecently hateful words being said about me or my relationship even though they do sting. I do know great people that I care about deeply that comments and criticisms have affected and as a result I wanted to share my words.
Addressing his personal beliefs, he continued,
A small minority of people (at least I will continue to believe it is a small minority) want to see people suffer or fail. Personally, my basis for judging myself is simple, if I do something that doesn't represent Christ then I will listen to the opinions and words from family and friends who know me best and love me. I do desire (by the direction of family and peers) to become a better person daily. I know some will not agree with my intentions but in all things my pursuit is to represent Christ better.
Higgins and Bushnell were always open about their Christian faith and in light of that, faced a good deal of criticism last year for their decision to live together before they were married.
In the post, Higgins reminded people he is "not perfect as none of us are and [he] never claimed to be."
He also set the record straight on his career, writing,
To be clear, not that this should be a surprise, but this podcast is a professional decision I have made to enhance my life and career. I still have a full time job. I am still running Generous Coffee company. I still have a blog. I am still actively involved in @humanityandhope. And now, because I was given the opportunity, I have added a podcast with a friend and a great company (@iheartradio) to talk about life (and I love to talk).
While he called Ashley I. "a friend," there was some speculation the two might be dating after they attended a concert together.
However, Iaconetti told Us Weekly the two are "totally just friends!" She explained, "We went with our podcast manager at iHeart and other friends."
Higgins concluded his message,
The last few months have not gone the way I would have preferred. My relationships have changed drastically and what I envisioned my life was going to be has been redirected. It is sad, but it is nothing you should feel sorry for me about, life happens both the good and bad. With this, what do you think I should do now? For all of you that have given me advice let me give you some from my heart. Love as hard as you can (even to strangers). Ask yourself what life is about and pursue your conclusion with passion. When a good opportunity comes your way that fits your desires take it, because life is short but a lot more fun when you are doing something you enjoy.
Honestly, good for Ben for standing up to internet hate and addressing the criticism head on. Lauren, who moved back to California to pursue a career in fashion, recently shared a similar sentiment on Twitter.
It looks like Ben and Lauren, while not "happily ever after" together, are working hard at finding happiness post-engagement.