Sorry ladies, Ben Higgins is officially taken. He recently went public on Instagram with his no-longer-secret girlfriend, Jessica Clarke. But who is Jessica Clarke, you ask? Great question. Well, for starters, Higgins' 23-year-old girlfriend is gorgeous. In fact, she's so gorgeous that she inspired him to slide into her DMs. (No, seriously. That's how they met.) According to Entertainment Tonight, he came across her Instagram profile while he was looking for posts about a hockey game in Nashville and was reportedly so taken aback by her hotness that he just had to shoot her a message around Thanksgiving.
Yep, slid into her DMs, and boom — the rest is history. He announced their relationship yesterday, Feb. 20, by posting a picture of the two of them looking totally in love during a vacation they took together in Santa Fe, Ocotepeque, Honduras.
He gave the full scoop on their relationship for all of his 1.3 million followers to rejoice in with this delightfully long caption:
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. She is someone special, and I look forward to where life is going to take us. Stay tuned for the journey. In addition, this picture was taken this week in Honduras. I got to spend some time with an incredible group of people from all over the USA on a @generous_coffee_ adventure. Life is good!
“I have a girlfriend, and we are in a committed, exclusive relationship,” the 20th Bachelor told Entertainment Tonight. “It’s really exciting, and there’s a ton of peace behind it.”
So, who is that girlfriend? Well, according to Entertainment Tonight, Clarke is a Nashville, Tennessee resident and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. According to her LinkedIn profile, she's been a Key Account Manager at Valet Energy (a clean technology company) for the past four months.
Higgins' relationship with Clarke marks his first public relationship since breaking off his engagement to Season 20 Bachelor winner Lauren Bushnell back in May 2017. Bushnell has since said that the two were not “the most compatible.”
“There is something about [saying I’m in a relationship] that’s not easy,” Higgins said, when he opened up to Entertainment Tonight. “I’m realizing how much of my identity was being single... I’ve been in one place for so long now, and had to accept that one status, that it’s exciting and I know it’s the right thing, but it’s also abnormal and unfamiliar for me to say out loud that I’m in a committed relationship... I am a little concerned because this is a big identity shift and switch for me, and that feels weird. But I’m ready for it, I’m excited about it and I wouldn’t do it with just anybody.” Looks like Clarke was able to totally change his mindset.
“Jessica kind of came inside this whole thing and said ‘I get your struggles, and I just like you for who you are,’” Higgins told Entertainment Tonight. “With the right person this does feel great, exciting, peaceful. And I know that I’m not super messed up! Somebody actually likes me!”
He continued by describing her as an "incredible person" who reportedly checks off all of his boxes for the perfect partner. Entertainment Tonight reports that three weeks after he first slid into her DMs, Higgins flew Clarke to see him in Denver for their first IRL encounter. Needless to say, it went well.
“She showed up the same weekend a restaurant I’m involved with, Ashkara, opened, so it was an exciting time,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “The next day she also went with me to an event I’d already committed to. Since the beginning, she’s been really understanding, and focused on whatever time we can get together. For me, that weekend, seeing her, I felt like we’d known each other and been around each other many times before. There was a comfort.”
And now the relationship has left Higgins happier than ever. Their biggest struggle? Entertainment Tonight reports that the two are finding long distance to be tough, but they're making it work with frequent FaceTimes.
“It’s been incredible to, at the end of the day, have somebody to talk to without fear of judgment, getting yelled at or criticized,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “Just somebody to talk to and enjoys you, appreciates you and tells you that and shows you that. It’s nice to have a partner who thinks I’m awesome. I like being with somebody who thinks I’m pretty great!”
Oh, and the most interesting thing about Clarke? She's not even a big fan of The Bachelor. In fact, she didn't even watch Higgins' season of The Bachelor. Don't worry, Entertainment Tonight reports her mom did watch his season and she's all for her daughter's new relationship with him. (The publication also reports that both Clarke and Higgins have met each other's parents).
“She’ll watch The Bachelor more now because of what I do, but she doesn’t show any interest in talking about it,” Higgins told Entertainment Tonight. “It comes up never.” And how does Higgins feel about dating someone not at all interested in or involved with Bachelor Nation? He's totally cool with it.
“It feels nice,” he says. “It feels different, but no matter what I hope the foundation is the same in any relationship I’m in: one of trust, empathy, encouragement and understanding. [Clarke] doesn’t have a public persona, or a massive following, and she doesn’t really, I don’t think, have any desire to. And I’m OK with that… I have prepped her like, ‘Your name is going to be out now, people are going to look at your profile and judge you.'”
The two still haven't said "I love you," according to Entertainment Tonight, but Higgins is definitely smitten. "It’s brand new,” he explained to Entertainment Tonight. “Every time I’m with her and around her, it builds… every time I’m with her I want to see her again. I have a feeling that once she’s around my family, my friends… I can only imagine my feelings will increase.”
Want to hear more about the couple and their new relationship? Clarke is going to guest star on the next episode of Higgins' podcast, The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast, to gab about their relationship. Get comfy! It's going to be one hell of an episode.