Katie Thurston Doesn’t Mind Dating In The Spotlight (For Now)

The FBoy Island star knows a thing or two about finding love on TV.

Elite Daily/Mandee Rae

Katie Thurston knows what you’re thinking: Another dating show? But she’s happy with her choice to go on FBoy Island Season 3, haters be damned (or just blocked on Instagram). “The thing that bothers me the most is when people look at the shows I've been on and think I failed,” Thurston, who appeared on both The Bachelor Season 25 and Bachelorette Season 17 in 2021, tells Elite Daily. “At this point, I waited this long to find someone, I’m not going to settle.”

Thurston doesn’t appreciate people using her history against her. “On The Bachelorette, I didn't get 30 guys who were the perfect men for me. I got great guys, but not every good guy is a good guy for me,” the 32-year-old says. The former bank marketing manager compares it to the real-world scenario of going to a bar while single. “You don't think, ‘Oh, there are 30 guys here. You didn't leave married? You're the problem.’”

But most of Thurston’s love life isn’t happening at her local bar. In her new role on FBoy Island, which premiered Oct. 20 on The CW, Thurston knows the stakes are different — choose a nice guy, and she’ll win a cash prize of $50,000; choose an FBoy, and she walks away with nothing — so this time, she isn’t necessarily looking for a husband. “I just wanted it to be worth it, whether that meant walking away with the cash prize, with love, or with girl friends,” the soon-to-be Los Angeles transplant says.

Here, she opens up about dating in the spotlight, detecting FBoys, and her favorite kind of DM to receive.

Gilbert Flores/Variety/Getty Images

Elite Daily: Your love life has been a subject of public interest since first going on reality TV. What's it like dating in front of such a big (and often very opinionated) audience?

Katie Thurston: It can be a lot to manage because it's very unnatural. At the beginning of a relationship, you're just trying to figure things out. The last thing you need is public opinion. At the same time, I obviously signed up to be in this spotlight when dating, and over time, I’ve gotten thicker skin.

ED: How has your approach to dating changed since becoming a public figure?

KT: Before going on FBoy Island, I told myself my next relationship would be so private. But then I got the call to go back on reality TV and was like, "Well, let's try this first, and then we'll decide if privacy is something I do going forward."

This time around, I knew how to approach reality TV, and I told producers to let me be myself and not try to change me to fit a narrative.

ED: Before FBoy Island, were you on dating apps at all?

KT: I dipped into the apps a little bit and went on some dates, but it's such a dry place to be. I'm big on personality, so if you aren't good at conveying your vibe via text, you don't stand a chance of even making it to a first date. Those app dates never panned out to be anything — I don't think I've ever had a second date from an app.

ED: Would you ever date someone who slid into your DMs?

KT: I'm open to DMs, but it has to be the right kind. If it's a DM from a private account, that's not going anywhere because I can't pre-screen you. If your account is at least public, it gives me a little bit of something about who you are.

ED: Does being a public figure impact the way you respond to a message?

KT: It's tough to balance potentially dating a fan versus someone who understands the spotlight. So if it's a DM from a person who's not from reality TV, I’m wondering if they’re trying to fan over this situation. If it's a DM from an actor, then it's like, "Oh, OK. What's up?"

I'm not quite an actress, but I'm also not working at my bank job anymore. It's a weird place to date, which is why I ended up going on reality TV to date again because that’s my comfort zone now.

ED: If you had to pick, what’s your favorite kind of DM to get?

KT: I'm a big voice memo person, because you can quickly pick up on any icks when you get a voice memo from a guy — if he's awkward or if the tone of his voice is off. It can really tell you if you’ll have chemistry.

ED: Beyond the dating apps and DMs, you’ve also found romance through reality TV. Considering your past with the Bachelor franchise, what was your mindset like going on FBoy Island?

KT: This time around, I knew how to approach reality TV, and I told producers to let me be myself and not try to change me to fit a narrative. FBoy Island was really a hands-off experience for producers. It made the experience natural and organic, whereas The Bachelor is more dramatic, and there's a little bit of puppetry behind the scenes.

Cocky guys were giving me FBoy energy, whereas if they were a little more reserved or humble, I thought they were nice guys.

ED: You were tasked with sorting out the FBoys from the nice guys. What are some under-the-radar red flags that give away an FBoy, on TV and in real life?

KT: In everyday life, if the guy is only hanging out with you during the week versus the weekend. If you are there on the weekend, the guy's very into you. If you're the weekday girl, you're a comfort, but not the priority. I've been on both sides of that.

On the show, it was more about how the guys handled themselves. Cocky guys were giving me FBoy energy, whereas if they were a little more reserved or humble, I thought they were nice guys.

ED: It’s interesting because I think those reserved guys are often FBoys in disguise — at least, in the real world.

KT: I agree. This year, I've been a victim of that. Meeting guys I thought were the good ones, but once you take off those rose-tinted glasses, you realize they really were an FBoy. So, they definitely exist. They're out there with their hidden identity.

ED: On The Bachelor and Bachelorette, any accusation of being there “for the wrong reasons” is taken very seriously. But on FBoy Island, the same idea is a game. What was it like, filming the latter?

KT: I liked that everyone could lean into whatever side they wanted to — FBoy or nice guy — regardless of who they came on the show as. Even for the women, we had fun guessing who was who. I remember thinking Pierce was such a pure soul, but I was wondering if he’d reveal that he was an FBoy when he went home. The game element made it feel like summer camp for adults.

ED: Are there any specific traits you’re looking for in your next partner?

KT: Humor is probably number one. I enjoy a funny guy, which is why people like Benedict and Marco, who are both comics, continued to be on the show week after week. I love someone I can banter with, someone who understands my humor.

ED: Any qualities you’d like to avoid?

KT: People who are not emotionally mature. I know it’s like, duh, but you have to be such a good communicator, especially in this world of reality TV and public spotlight.

ED: What’s your best piece of dating advice?

KT: Don't fall in love drunk. It's very easy to be one way with someone when you're drinking and having a goofy time, but what happens when you're sober? It can be a very different connection. You have to look at the reality of what's in front of you and not the potential.

ED: What about breakup advice?

KT: The best breakups happen when you've continued to communicate with each other up until that point. If you break up with someone and they're blindsided, you probably didn't do much to resolve the problems that led to the breakup. A healthy breakup is mutual because you both communicated, tried to work on your problems, and realized that you're just not a good match. Also, try not to rebound. Don't find someone else until you have full closure.

ED: Do you think you can ever be friends with an ex?

KT: That’s a hard no. It really complicates healthy boundaries because if a friend lets you down, that's one thing. But if an ex lets you down, it's a whole different level of disappointment.

ED: What would you say to someone who has a habit of dating FBoys and wants to stop?

KT: Mix it up a little bit and say yes to someone you normally wouldn’t go for. You learn a lot about yourself when you dip into dating different types of people that aren't part of your norm.

Years ago, I did that, and I ended up having the best date. It was six hours long. We had nonstop, amazing communication. He was such a gentleman. So, I've continued to have that mindset going forward. When you look at who I've dated in the past, it's a variety of types, appearances, backgrounds, ages, everything.

ED: Can you share anything about your current relationship status?

KT: I tell people that my love life is a river that is flowing and morphing to the obstacles that present themselves. It's the only way I can answer it, but I am moving to LA, so I'll say that, too.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.