The Bachelorette and her winner finally stepped out as a couple on Monday night’s reunion show and were able to discuss the Instagram scandal that had been casting a shadow on their courtship since week one of the ABC reality show.
Star Becca Kufrin and winner Garrett Yrigoyen joined host Chris Harrison on After the Final Rose to fill in the off-camera gaps since the taping of the final rose ceremony. Only moments earlier, Bachelor Nation had just watched Becca accept a romantic proposal from Garrett in the Maldives. That finale, however, was taped in early May, and the pair have been secretly dating until now, when they are officially allowed to come out as engaged.
“Things have been wonderful, but they’ve been hard at times,” Becca admitted of their off-air courtship after the proposal.
Becca’s finale decision left a heartbroken runner-up, Blake Horstmann, in her wake. But the bigger drama surrounding the finale was whether or not Becca and Garrett would address the off-air scandal that consumed fans of the series when, right after her season premiered, news broke that Garrett had liked a series of offensive posts on Instagram. The posts mocked a range of groups of people — including undocumented immigrants, the trans community, liberal feminists, and Parkland, Florida, shooting survivor David Hogg — and raised questions about his character. The posts he liked also expressed views in sharp contrast with those of Becca, who had supported Hillary Clinton and the Women’s March.
“The Instagram situation, I don’t condone that and I know that he stands by his apology and he feels so bad for everyone that he did offend,” she said Monday night, also noting how hard it was to not be able to fully defend him when the story first broke.
“He didn’t mean it. But I just want to move forward, to learn and to grow and continue to educate ourselves,” she added, though the details of the posts were never shared on After the Final Rose. “That’s all that you can ask for in another person is that somebody who recognizes if they make a mistake and do something wrong and to want to learn and grow from it, and that’s what he showed me.”
After Becca initially asked her viewers to keep an open mind in early season interviews, Garrett himself ended up releasing a statement, taking responsibility for the posts and apologizing for the hurt they caused. The contestant had not been able to give a complete interview since and took the opportunity to both stand by and elaborate on his apology during After the Final Rose.
“I was really worried about it, that I might lose her from that, but I knew she knew who I was as a person,” he said about the situation while seated next to his fiancee. “I was a better person than I was presenting on social media. She knows I didn’t mean to hurt or offend anyone.”
Garrett continued, “I’m just trying to grow as a person and be a better person on a daily basis. She’s helping me through everything. We’ve been honest and open and transparent with one another since the beginning and when that all came out we attacked it because I feel like when I was liking things, it was going against things she stands for and that made it really hard on us as a couple. So when we started talking about that, we got through that together and we’re growing, we’re progressing and we’re moving forward.”
On Tuesday, Becca and Garrett kicked off their press tour with the usual first stop on ABC’s Good Morning America. While sitting down with Michael Strahan, Becca admitted that going through the Instagram scandal as a couple “hasn’t been the easiest” and Garrett told the ABC anchor that his Instagram behavior is not his “true” character.
“I made a public apology on my Instagram. I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to offend anybody, but now I know the weight that a like holds on Instagram, and things like that,” Garrett said on GMA. “So we just addressed it, her and I. I know it went against things that she stood for before, but she knows through the show and getting to know me that that’s not my true character. She didn’t let my Instagram define who I am as a person. And we’re moving forward. We’re trying to grow, be better people, and I’m trying to not make those same mistakes again.”
When asked if it had an effect on their relationship, Becca said it did and that they had conversations in the beginning of their off-camera relationship. “Once we got engaged, we had those couple months together and right away it was a conversation,” she said. “It was an issue that we had to overcome. But he has been very transparent throughout the entire thing and he never held anything back. And he understands that it was offensive, but he took full initiative right after that all came out to apologize. Like he said, he didn’t want to offend anyone. It hasn’t been the easiest, but we’ve gotten through it and I think, honestly, it’s made us stronger in the long run.”
When speaking to The Hollywood Reporter after the recent taping of the Men Tell All reunion, Becca addressed the controversy. THR had spoken to her at the beginning of the season, and with just one week before the airing of the finale, Becca continued to ask her viewers to keep an open mind. The star, who had revealed that she was engaged — but not to whom — before the season began, also said she still had no regrets.
“I think that living day by day, I handled things how I would want to be treated,” she told THR at the end of July taping. “And I really hoped to give the guys any clarity or answers or respect in any given situation, and so overall, I think stayed true to who I was and followed my heart.”
She did, however, admit that reliving the season as it airs has been difficult. “There are so many things that I’m learning. One thing is just how great of a support system he is, because it’s not always easy watching it back on either end,” she said. “And just to have him there to be open and to be receptive to how I handled things and to still have my back means the world,” adding, “I was lucky enough to go on this journey with 28 guys and to really get to know them for who they are, away from social media, away from all the distractions, and so that was something special for me that I got to experience, and i just hope that the viewers can be that same way.”
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