Sharleen Joynt: Before you were the lead on the most recent Bachelorette, you were a contestant on season 19 of The Bachelor [with hottie farmer Chris Soules; Joynt appeared on season 18 with former pro soccer player Juan Pablo Galavis]. During casting, hopefuls are asked to describe their ideal man. Do you remember what you wrote?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: Yes, and it’s funny because it’s bang on for Shawn. I wrote that he has to love country music, because it’s my favourite thing to wake up and listen to. He has to want kids and be close with his family. And he has to have a sense of humour and a good butt [laughs].
Sharleen Joynt: I was a bit of a closet Bachelor fan before applying. What about you?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: I’d watched probably four seasons. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t a superfan.
Sharleen Joynt: Was there a catalyst in your life that made you apply?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: When my last relationship ended, my best friend said, “That’s it! I’m signing you up for The Bachelor!” And then she actually did.
Sharleen Joynt: Wow, you owe her.
Kaitlyn Bristowe: [laughs] Yeah, I know! She’s like, “Basically, I’m the reason for your happiness.”
Sharleen Joynt: You told me once at a dinner that your experience as a contestant was very different from your experience as the lead. As viewers—and I think as contestants, too—we generally believe the lead is the one calling the shots. Do you still think so?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: Yes and no, because it’s a very produced show. I didn’t always get to say what the dates were or who went on them unless they were one-on-one. So I kind of called the shots, but I kind of didn’t.
Sharleen Joynt: You can’t change the way the sausage is made.
Kaitlyn Bristowe: Exactly. There’s a format to the show. Like, I might want to send home the crazy ones on night one, but you can’t, because they make for good TV.
Sharleen Joynt: I think your season can be credited with single-handedly taking the term “slut-shaming” mainstream. [During the live, second-to-last episode of The Bachelorette, host Chris Harrison read a selection of the most hateful tweets Kaitlyn received to the studio audience; a raft of think pieces followed.]
Kaitlyn Bristowe: Yes! Had you heard of it before?
Sharleen Joynt: Here and there. I feel like it could be in the dictionary now. The concept of slut-shaming became such a lightning rod. Do you think it was a good thing it was brought to the forefront?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: I think it was unnecessary that [my sleeping with Nick] even became a “thing.” But I’m glad [all the slut-shaming] was discussed.
Sharleen Joynt: Were you surprised by the hate you received?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: Oh, I was blown away. When I thought about it, I was like, I’ve never really been bullied in my entire life, and now I’m being bullied as a 30-year-old woman for doing something any woman might do. I wondered, Oh my gosh, am I a terrible person? because people acted like I was wanted for murder.
Sharleen Joynt: Did the producers give you a heads-up that it would be a major plot point of the season, and did they prepare you at all for the backlash?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: No, not even a tiny bit. If anything, they went in the other direction, with “Oh, it won’t be a big deal at all” and “People are going to love you!” Then, watching each episode, I couldn’t believe how exaggerated everything was. Watching it back was like, “What?!”
Sharleen Joynt: It’s been rumoured, though, that several Bachelors have had sex with contestants before the Fantasy Suite dates. Why do you think your night with Nick was featured so prominently while their experiences were not?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: One word: ratings.
Sharleen Joynt: Viewers could obviously see the chemistry between you and Shawn, but can you describe what makes him a great match for you?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: He understands that cheesy Love Languages thing [referencing the bestselling relationship tome The 5 Love Languages]. He gets it. He knows that my way of feeling loved is when he tells me. You can buy me flowers and whatever, and I’ll be like, “Meh.” I need you to just tell me, and he’s so good about that. His [love language] is affection [“Physical Touch,” according to the book], so he’s really good with that, too.
Sharleen Joynt: You mentioned in a People interview recently that the two of you haven’t spent more than four hours apart since the finale. For real?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: You’re separated for so long [after taping wraps, the happy couple can only see each other on the DL until the show’s live finale] and don’t have much quality time together on the show, so we’ve taken advantage of every second. He’s going to an event on Monday, and I have an event in Vancouver. It will be the first time since July that we will sleep apart. I can’t wait to miss him!
Sharleen Joynt: You guys are so cute. What’s next for the two of you?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: In February we’re going to try to find a new apartment in Nashville that can be “ours.” [They’re currently living with Shawn’s sister.] We’ve been so busy we haven’t thought much about wedding planning. We’ve basically just started dating and nothing in our lives has been normal, so the most normal thing we can do is wait to plan a wedding, and just live together and be with each other.
Sharleen Joynt: I love that. It’s terrible how, with the speed of the show and how fast you get engaged, everyone’s always immediately all, “So, when are you getting married?” It’s like, just let them be. So honestly, that sounds super healthy.
Kaitlyn Bristowe: Yeah, it feels healthy.
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