When news first broke that Jordan Mauger was set to look for love in a third reality show, there seemed to be a collective groan across the country. What could possess the former star of The Bachelor NZ to put himself on TV yet again?
"I just want to find that happily ever after – I really do," insists Jordan, 35, speaking exclusively to Woman's Day about his upcoming stint on US series Bachelor in Paradise.
"People will knock it, but I don't care. I'm having the most fun I've had in my life. I'm putting myself out there in a way that's vulnerable and open in this unique, incredible circumstance. In a way, it's more honest than what I find out in town in real life."
After infamously splitting from The Bachelor NZ winner Fleur Verhoeven the day after the season-two finale, Jordan thought he'd finally found love with Los Angeles-based DJ Gina Middleton, but when that romance failed half a year later, the filmmaker was left heartbroken.
"I was head over heels for her, but we were doing the long-distance thing and there was a lot of misunderstanding between us," reveals Jordan.
"It just imploded, which was very upsetting for me.
"I was in love with her, for sure, and there were a lot of long-term plans that we'd discussed, so to have it end so swiftly was hard. When Bachelor Winter Games came up after that, I didn't even know if I could do it, if I was emotionally ready."
But at the urging of some friends, the Christchurch native met with US producers and took a leap of faith by heading back into the Bachelor franchise for the sporty spin-off series, which aired overseas early this year.
Jordan made "incredible friends" during his time on The Bachelor Winter Games and formed a strong connection with Bibiana Julian, but he ultimately walked away a single man when the Florida cheerleader decided she didn't see a future with him.
"I was definitely upset by the outcome of that relationship, but that just proves how genuine my feelings are," Jordan says.
"I can totally see how contestants on the American shows end up engaged. You get a cast of very different people and it's just like life. You're under the microscope, but nothing is fake."
After his time in the US, Jordan found it difficult dating back in Aotearoa. He explains, "On the show, I found myself having open discussions with women about how I was feeling, marriage, babies and all that stuff very quickly. That can be overwhelming for some women.
"When I've gone on dates back home, they've been like, 'Woah, man! Settle down. Take it easy!' But I'm not afraid to talk about having children now – it's not awkward for me."
TVNZ OnDemand series Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico earlier this year, Jordan says it might be his favourite reality experience so far.
"It was basically like a bunch of friends hanging out on holiday," he tells.
"A whole lot of us contestants from Bachelor shows were put in a resort where we could do whatever we wanted – run along the beach, go for a swim or fitness classes – but we pretty much just lounged around the pool talking to one another the whole time."
However, while that may sound relaxing, Jordan insists people got crazier than they do in other instalments of the Bachelor franchise.
He grins, "It's wild and fun, but there was also this understanding that we were there to meet and date as many people as possible. Some people did get upset because they became attached, but everyone still supported one another, which was very surprising."
Since his time in Mexico, Jordan has been travelling around the US and spent a week at the Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.
"It's an out-of-this-world experience," he tells. "I've been the past two years and it's so rewarding – you can become a part of whatever your imagination can conjure up. But I don't want to give specifics as I'd like to keep it a bit mysterious."
And Jordan is equally coy on whether or not he's still single. Grinning, he says, "You'll just have to wait and find out!"
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