The Bachelorette premiere night can be overwhelming for the lead, since it’s the night she needs to meet and interact with dozens of potential future husbands. But everything can get thrown for a loop if the lead has actually met one of the contestants before filming on the show even began — and that’s exactly what happened in Season 18. During the Oct. 19 premiere, Michelle Young was surprised to see a familiar face among her suitors. Michelle realized she met Joe Coleman before filming The Bachelorette — or at least, they spoke in his DMs for a bit.
Joe is from Minnesota, just like Michelle, and it was that fact that jogged Michelle’s memory when she first saw him during his limo entrance As soon as they established that they’re from the same area, Michelle asked Joe if they’d met before. Joe was cagey at first, but then Michelle remembered that she’d DMed him before, and Joe confirmed this fact. At first, Joe was excited that Michelle remembered him, but soon he realized that she didn’t remember him for totally good reasons. While Joe was feeling hopeful, Michelle told hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe that Joe ghosted her, which is def not a good look.
Later in the episode, Michelle and Joe sat down to talk out the details of their history, and Joe revealed that he was going through a tough time when he stopped responding to her messages. It turned out, they were talking during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and that was part of the reason he stopped responding to her. “In that time, I had a lot going on,” the real estate developer told Michelle. “I had a property in George Floyd Square, three blocks away. And I had a lot of shootings, murders, and a lot of things going on to where, at the time, it just caused a lot of anxiety. I didn't feel like I was in a place to open up to somebody.”
Michelle made it clear to Joe that one of her main priorities in a relationship is communication, so she was upset that Joe left her hanging instead of sharing his feelings. He went on to say, “I didn't know how to express those feelings with you and let you know that I wasn't really opening up or seeing other people. It's something I wish I could've handled better but I'm glad we're having this conversation now.”
When it came time for the rose ceremony, Michelle was still unsure about Joe. She was skeptical of his reasons for coming back into her life now that she’s the Bachelorette, instead of reconnecting with her sooner. The question plagued Michelle so much that she needed to take a break from the rose ceremony before handing out her final rose. But in the end, Michelle did give Joe the last rose of the night, allowing him another week to prove he’s there for the right reasons.
Season 18 of The Bachelorette airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.