Season 16 of The Bachelorette has had far more revelations and drama than the average season. With Clare Crawley out of the picture and Tayshia Adams taking over, the remaining contestants have shared intimate and dark aspects of their pasts while opening up on the reality show juggernaut. Past episodes have seen issues of addiction and racism brought to the forefront from contestants Zac Clark and Ivan Hall, but the latest episodes saw fan favorite Ben Smith open up about deep-rooted personal issues he’s dealt with in his past.
The Indiana native and all-around nice guy blew Tayisha and audiences away when he revealed his struggles with bulimia and mental health years before appearing on The Bachelorette. The 30-year-old personal trainer captured the hearts of viewers and his leading lady with an honest and raw vulnerability that isn’t often shared on The Bachelorette. But there’s far more to this former army vet than meets the eye. Here’s the truth about Ben Smith.
Why did The Bachelorette's Ben Smith leave the army?
Ben Smith served in the army before vying for Tayshia Adams’ rose on The Bachelorette. According to his bio on ABC, Ben completed his education at the United States Military Academy at West Point and The United States Army Ranger School. Ben also revealed that he was originally recruited to play golf at West Point, which was the catalyst to him pursuing a career in the armed forces.
When Ben’s time serving was cut short after he sustained a back injury, that pushed him into pursuing a different career. He opened up about it in a YouTube video, explaining his decision to leave the army. “I had this epiphany, ‘you know what, I don’t need to do this anymore,'” he revealed. Following a conversation with his dad, Ben pursued personal training in Los Angeles instead.
Although Ben ultimately chose not to remain on active duty, he expressed his gratitude to the military in an Instagram post. “I am lucky to have had those experiences and I am proud of how it has shaped my response to other times of hardship — mental, emotional, and even physical, he wrote.”
Ben Smith opened up about his history with suicide on The Bachelorette
From the first night he stepped out of the limo, Ben Smith appeared to be the lovable-yet-reserved midwestern boy. But as The Bachelorette progressed, Ben began to share more about himself, leading to a startling revelation. In a raw confession, Ben shared a secret with Tayshia Adams: he’d survived two suicide attempts in 2018 and 2019, opening up an important discussion that’s rarely had on The Bachelor franchise. “My life was very dark and I didn’t know how to say that I needed things,” Ben explained. “I didn’t want to burden anybody with my problems. And I thought that the easiest way was to just not be around. Luckily, it didn’t work.”
Ben also admitted it took a lot for him to be able to open up, and that he’s a very different person today than he was before thanks to him being “aggressive” and “intentional” with going to therapy. “It’s insane that I just told you that, because I don’t tell people that,” he continued.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
On The Bachelorette, Ben Smith said his sister saved his life
Ben Smith’s journey has been marked by his willingness to open up and share personal hardships that he’s faced in his life. Although he struggled with letting Tayshia Adams in at the beginning, he’s since shed light his heartbreaking past on The Bachelorette. Through it all, Ben has maintained that his close relationship with his sister helped him when he was in his darkest moments.
In an emotional moment on The Bachelorette, Ben revealed that his sister was the only person that he was able to talk to about his desire to take his own life. “She saved my life,” he confessed. Ben also revealed that although she didn’t know about his history with severe depression, that she was unknowingly the one who saved him. “The only thing that got me through that was her, and she has no idea,” he continued. “She saved my life, and so I owe her everything.” We’re not crying, you’re crying.
The Bachelorette's Ben Smith struggled with an eating disorder
Many of the contestants on season 16 of The Bachelorette have shared intimate details about their lives. Ben Smith is no different, as in addition to his history of depression, Ben opened up about his battle with an eating disorder; he told Tayshia Adams all about it after an emotional group date. “I found out what girls were when I was 15,” he recalled during the cocktail party. “I realized they don’t like the fat kid. So I stopped eating.” He further explained his past saying, “I started working out all the time, lost like 70 pounds, and had bulimia for 10 years when I was in my 20s.”
Additionally, in an interview with Good Morning America, Ben described his first instance of overeating at the age of 20, and how the years of body shame spiraled into bulimia. And although Ben had trouble opening up about what he was going though in the past, he encourages those who are struggling with an eating disorder to get help. “I understand that it might be challenging or difficult, but reach out to somebody,” he shared.
The Bachelorette's Ben Smith is a bodybuilder and personal trainer
The Bachelorette‘s Ben Smith turned to bodybuilding and nutrition after battling an eating disorder and leaving the armed forces. The former Army Ranger opened up about his health journey, which began with him getting his CrossFit certification in 2011. He then took a risk and moved to Los Angeles in order to work for a long-time fitness coach he’d followed on Instagram, who also owned Deuce Gym. Ben had wanted to get involved with Deuce for years, and leaving the military was the first step towards that goal.
According to a YouTube video Ben made documenting his journey, he found a sense of community pursuing what he loved. “I can just show up as me,” he proclaimed. “It’s this really comforting thing where like, showing up as I am is enough and I like, got that feeling on day one.”
Additionally, Ben is also a coach at the Bodybuilding Club where he helps people from all walks of life, no matter where they are on their road to getting fit.
Ben Smith from The Bachelorette suffered a life-changing back injury
Ben Smith headed to the armed forces early on his life, after deciding against going to Indiana University. Though he originally thought the military was going to be a life-long commitment, a life-changing injury in 2018 changed his trajectory. “The Army didn’t end up working out for me, for a number of reason.,” Ben explained on The Bachelorette. “But I ended up breaking my back pretty bad.” He went on to explain how he was 26 years old and could barely walk up the stairs.
Additionally, Ben revealed that the injury happened during a special forces assessment and selection course during his time at West Point in a YouTube video for Deuce Gym. This injury was also the catalyst to the darker days of his life. “I was living in a city that was too expensive for me and I was completely lost,” he continued.
Though his battle was tough, Ben eventually found his footing, pursuing a life of health and fitness.
The Bachelorette's Ben Smith almost lost his job opportunity with his gym
Although he’d been following Deuce Gym for seven years on social media, The Bachelorette‘s Ben Smith’s dream of training with them almost didn’t become a reality. The reason? Ben missed an important first meeting with Logan Gelbrich, a fitness trainer and the owner of Deuce Gym. This was after Ben asked Gelbrich about a job opportunity, as he explained in a YouTube video for the facility. “I’m leaving the military and I like, literally have nothing and I feel compelled to reach out,” he recalled.
Ben then scheduled a meeting with Gelbrich, but had to cancel at the last minute, and lost out on the opportunity to meet with Gelbrich for two months. Clearly, Gelbrich was less than pleased that Ben didn’t prioritize him, later telling him that he felt “a little burned.”
Fortunately, after reaching out again on Instagram, Ben got another opportunity to meet with his idol. After asking for a second chance, Ben cemented his long time-goal of becoming a fitness coach at Deuce Gym.
This is why Ben Smith dropped his clothes on The Bachelorette
Season 16 of The Bachelorette has seen its fair share of nudity, starting with the strip dodgeball date on Clare Crawley’s portion of the season, before spiraling into the group date where Ben Smith bared all. During the date, the men were asked to create self-portraits, which led to many emotional revelations. Ben was no exception, as he expressed how he has a difficult time expressing his emotions — and decided to drop his clothes instead.
Ben explained his motivations on the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast. “The art date allowed me to express myself in other ways,” he explained. “Taking my clothes off was a literal and figurative dropping of my guard.”
Ben went on to say how his decision wasn’t about just being naked, but rather, it was about removing a barrier he had up. Additionally, he expressed that by baring his all, literally, he could get rid of any obstacles between him and Tayshia Adams. “I don’t play if there’s something [that] needs to be achieved or some sort of objective,” he continued. “In this case, it was…furthering my relationship with this beautiful woman.”
Ben Smith was a "different person" after opening up on The Bachelorette, says Tayshia Adams
Revealing intimate details about one’s past is a daunting feat, especially in front of millions of viewers at one time. But Ben Smith’s courage and willingness to withhold no secrets from Tayshia Adams on The Bachelorette allowed him to show a vulnerable side, which brought the pair closer together. However, before opening up to Tayshia, Ben had his guard up from the beginning of the season.
As Tayshia revealed to Insider, “I think there were a lot of men that grew before my eyes and grew before their own,” she explained. “But Ben was someone that really surprised me.” Tayshia went on to say she understands why Ben was so guarded in the beginning, citing “big conversations” that needed to be had in order for him to feel more comfortable with their relationship.
While Tayshia explained that it took them a while for her and Ben to get there, “I think once he finally opened up, it was just a completely different person. It was like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.”
This is why Ben Smith doesn't want his experience on The Bachelorette to change his real life
Going on The Bachelorette can bring participants instant fame and endless opportunities, but fan favorite Ben Smith is already straying from the norm. While many contestants can get swept up in the glam and notoriety of Bachelor Nation, Ben doesn’t want his everyday life to change after the show.
On the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast, Ben expressed to hosts Rachel Lindsay and Becca Kufrin that he’s determined to keep both his day job and his lifestyle after his time on The Bachelorette. “I have a life outside of this experience,” he shared. Ben went on to express how even though he’s grateful for his time on The Bachelorette, he maintained that he had no expectations going on the show, or about how he’ll be portrayed after the season airs. “I can’t let [the show] take away from my ability to, like, be the person that I am for the people that I surround myself with,” he added.
Ben Smith from The Bachelorette is a romantic at heart
Ben Smith’s journey on The Bachelorette has had highs and lows, and one of those highs is his relationship with Tayshia Adams. Though he had a rocky start, Ben more than made up for it when he went to Tayshia’s suite after the group date in an attempt to “show up” for her.
Ben’s romantic gestures come from a place of being ready to settle down with someone he can be himself around. According to his bio on ABC, he “wants a wife who can openly communicate and stay emotionally available.” While Ben surely found some of those qualities in Tayshia, he also wants a partner who can “keep up with him on the dance floor.”
Ben expresses his romantic side by writing love letters to convey his affection. Additionally, he once flew across the country to see a girl he’d never met in person (though according to Smith’s Instagram, that could be a reference to a Celine Dion concert he might have attended.) Either way, Smith’s sense of humor combined with his humility reinforces his status as fan favorite and front-runner for season 16.
The Bachelorette's Ben Smith opened up about his struggle with anxiety
Being catapulted into the limelight overnight can be a lot for anyone to handle. Not surprisingly, that’s the case for Ben Smith, as his newfound fame can be overwhelming at times. On the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast, Ben explained how he gets stressed easily when he has too many notifications on his phone. “I could be deployed in like a war thing and like be totally fine,” he explained, “[but] my phone, if it has more than five notifications on it, I can’t handle it.”
Ben went on to say how he doesn’t read the things people send him, and that he leans on his support system to keep him level-headed; they have one rule: “don’t read the comments.” Additionally, Ben detailed how he relies heavily on therapy, and that he utilized that when he was preparing to go on The Bachelorette.
Ben also mentioned how he did intensive therapy when he came back from filming, and explained his mentality returning to reality: “for me, the only thing that matters is what mattered before going on the show.”
Ben Smith from The Bachelorette is a "gentle giant," according to Chris Harrison
It’s no secret that Ben Smith has garnered some fans since starring on The Bachelorette, but before the show even aired, Ben had a fan in host Chris Harrison. The relatable guy from Indiana has made a name for himself for being humble and honest while pursuing a relationship with Tayshia Adams. And according to Chris, those are genuine qualities that Ben portrays on camera.
Chris introduced the upcoming suitors prior to the premier of season 16 of The Bachelorette, and he took the time to detail the lovable qualities that Ben possesses, saying he’s an incredibly nice guy. He also called Ben “the gentle-giant of the season.”
Furthermore, Chris went on to reveal that the guarded vet was actually a big talker. “When you get Ben going, it’s hard to get him to stop,” he shared. Chris also acknowledged Ben’s story and his “unbelievable service to our country,” as well as the leadership qualities Ben exuded in the house during filming. “[He’s] well-liked and kind of a natural leader in the house,” he added. “Guys really look up to him.” We’re not surprised in the least.
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