Whether or not they make a romantic connection with The Bachelor NZ's hunky opera singer Moses Mackay, the show's contestants insist they've all found lasting relationships… amongst themselves!
"I'm pretty sure we're all in love with each other," laughs Shenae Connelly. "I'm so honoured and proud to be among these women. You see so much drama on the international version of the series, but we're changing that narrative by having absolute respect for each other."
The Auckland marketing manager, 27, continues, "We're one big ball of love, and we're showing that it comes in all different shapes, sizes and colours – it's the Kiwi way! I've made the best friends and whether things work out with Moses or not, I'll never regret saying yes to this show."
It's a sentiment shared by her co-star Lana Ennis, who confesses, "Before The Bachelor, I definitely had this judgement of the type of women who would go on a dating show, but actually it was the opposite – I met these down-to-earth, adventurous, intelligent and confident ladies. In the first few days, we had very real, personal conversations of overcoming body image, mental health, grief and loss."
For Chanel Lutton, that meant opening up about her late brother, who disappeared on a fishing trip several years ago. She tells Woman's Day, "When that happened, my whole world shut down and for a long time, I couldn't trust my decisions and the people around me. When I started telling the other girls about this grief that I carry daily, I was welcomed with so much love and understanding."
The Wellington finance analyst, 28, continues, "They've taught me I'm stronger than I ever imagined and everyone has noticed how sure of myself I've become since then. I've come out of this more settled and comfortable in my own skin. I couldn't be prouder."
Similarly, Lana was able to open up about the tragic death of her high school boyfriend Ben, who was just 17. The Queenstown nurse, 29, says,"I don't like to talk about those things, but because I'd seen others share their loss in such a safe space, I was able to reflect on the love we shared and the pain I had to try to overcome. It's terrifying to bring up these deeply rooted emotions, but having these intimate conversations with trusted friends meant I felt cared for and supported."
As did Lou Kures, who lost her partner Sam Lavea in a car accident in 2016. "Not ever speaking about grief before, I now feel confident to reach out more to family and friends," admits the Invercargill content creator, 31. "I've faced my fears and grown as a person, so the rewards from the show have been priceless."
"There are so many things I'll take away from this experience," agrees Auckland client services manager Devaney Davis, 22. "Before the show, I felt quite insecure and didn't have a lot of faith in myself, but the girls were there for all the tears and now I feel more positive towards myself. I've taken away life-long friends and started saying yes to more things."
This takes us back to Shenae, who opened up about losing her parents on the TVNZ 2 reality series. She tells us, "In retelling my story, I faced some pretty traumatic experiences and I was so nervous about it, but it's taught me that being vulnerable doesn't automatically subject you to pity, which has made me feel brave and strong. That's a huge thing for me and I can definitely say The Bachelor has changed my life."
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