Ben Higgins has been on a long search for love, and it all started the day he appeared on Season 11 of The Bachelorette to win Kaitlyn Bristowe's heart. After he was sent home as the second runner-up, the Indiana native returned to reality TV to star in The Bachelor Season 20, and that's when he met Lauren Bushnell. At the time, it seemed like the Indiana native found his wifey for lifey, but if there's anything fans can learn from Ben Higgins' dating history, it's that not everything always goes according to plan.
Though it's unclear whether Higgins had any serious relationships before appearing on The Bachelorette, it seems clear to me he's finally found his person in his fiancée, Jessica Clarke. During a January 2021 episode of Click Bait With Bachelor Nation, Higgins gushed about his future wife. "Once you have that partner that wants to support you, that's curious about you, that loves you, that you just have this peace and trust with them, that you recognize that your life is more beautiful with them than without them, I guess the question that you have to ask is, 'Why not?'" he said.
And why not take this opportunity to review Higgins' relationship history?
JoJo Fletcher, 2016
JoJo Fletcher was the runner-up on Higgins' season of The Bachelor. Although he didn't chose her in the end, the pair spent a lot of time dating on the 20th season of the show. In fact, Higgins was feeling Fletcher so much that he told her "I love you," while they spent time together on the series. But even though it seemed like he was really into her, Higgins decided to send her home on the season finale so he could be with contestant Lauren Bushnell instead.
Lauren Bushnell, 2016-2017
After getting engaged during the Season 20 finale of The Bachelor in March 2016, Bushnell and Higgins starred in their own reality series, Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, which premiered in October 2016. As fans watched them steadily get accustomed to living together, Higgins later admitted the show drove them apart because they didn't know how to have "direct communication."
"If anything, we walked into it still getting to know each other, so we weren't teammates," he explained during his January 2021 appearance on Click Bait With Bachelor Nation. "It just ended up pulling us apart." The two stayed together until May 2017 before they decided to call off their engagement. Bushnell has since married country singer Chris Lane, and in December 2020, she revealed they're going to have a baby together.
Lindsey Duke, 2017
After calling off his engagement with Bushnell, Higgins briefly sparked dating rumors with model Lindsey Duke. In September 2017, reality TV insider Reality Steve claimed Higgins was reportedly romancing the model. "Ben Higgins is currently seeing/dating/hooking up with: Lindsey Duke," he tweeted, noting that the two had reportedly been spotted together on numerous occasions.
Soon after, Higgins told E! News he was casually dating again, though he didn't name any names. "I'm not trying to hide anything. I've gone on a couple dates," he said. "It's been nothing but dates. I think it's been blown out of proportion. I'm not exclusively with anybody. But I am starting to put my foot back in the water." Romance rumors with Duke fizzled out soon after.
Jessica Clarke, 2018-2021
In February 2019, Higgins introduced his IG followers to his new girlfriend, Jessica Clarke with a post, writing, 'I've been selfishly keeping this girl to myself for too long! Hey friends meet @jessclarke_! I successfully slid into her Dm's a few months ago. I took a risk and I am glad I did."
Not long after, Higgins told the story of how it all went down during an episode of his podcast with Ashley Iaconetti Haibon, Almost Famous. According to Higgins, Clarke first came on his radar when he was in Nashville for a charity event in August 2018. While looking at the top posts near his location on IG, he spotted Jessica's photo with her dad from a nearby Nashville Predators hockey game. He was immediately smitten, but apparently, he didn't work up the courage to shoot his shot until November 2018.
Despite the distance, Higgins and Clarke made their LDR work, and in March 2020, Higgins decided to pop the question. "I was super nervous," he told Entertainment Tonight about the proposal. "I love her. I was nervous to kind of do this whole thing in front of her. I wasn't anxious, it's just a big moment!" When Clarke announced their engagement, she shared a photo of Higgins putting a ring on her hand as they stood in the middle of a gorgeous field. "I don't remember everything you said, but I know that I said yes," she captioned the Instagram post. "I woke up in a dream today and I get to live in this dream every day from now on (eeeep)." Here's to forever and always!
It may not have been an easy journey, but I'm so glad Higgins found his happily ever after with Clarke.