It turns out that age may not be a factor when it comes to getting swept up into The Bachelor universe.
As lead Gerry Turner prepares to watch back the inaugural season of The Golden Bachelor, the 72-year-old ABC star can admit that he was wrong to judge younger Bachelors who fell in love with multiple contestants.
“I thought, ‘No, that’s absolutely not possible. That’s silly.’ How wrong I was,” Gerry exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the Thursday, September 28 premiere. “Because through the course of the journey, I really felt strong feelings for several of the women.”
The difference between Gerry and the traditional Bachelors before him, however, is he already knows he likely wasn’t fully “in love” with several ladies.
“In retrospect, I realized that in that particular moment, whenever it was — the setting was such that, ‘Yeah, it was easy to look at someone and tell ’em that you loved ’em.’ But once you get through it all and you look back, then you realize that there is just really one person that really meets the standard in all situations that you want it to be,” Gerry told Us.
The use of the L-word has been a debate in Bachelor Nation for years, with season 20 Bachelor Ben Higgins catching a lot of heat for telling both Lauren Bushnell and JoJo Fletcher that he loved them during the 2016 season. Despite Ben cautioning other leads not to do the same — encouraging Bachelors to save the notion for their final rose recipient, the pattern has continued.
When it comes to setting rules for his journey, Gerry admitted to Us that he tried — and failed.
“I had a few rules, but I was breaking them all. That was the problem. So I decided I would stop,” he told Us with a smile. “[My daughters and granddaughters] were worried that I was going to be that guy that was kissing everybody on the first night. And I said, ‘Nope, I’m not going to kiss anyone on the first night. You’re not going to see that. Maybe not even as we get into it.’ Well, as you’ll see, I failed on the very first night, but I don’t feel bad about it at all.”
Gerry told Us that he has “no regrets” about how he handled the physical part of looking for a partner on the reality show.
“As time went on, many of those kisses were of affection. I really wanted to be supportive of all the women. I wanted them to feel good about themselves,” he said.
While Gerry’s family had similar concerns about the infamous overnight dates, he reiterated that he wouldn’t change a thing.
“They brought up the fantasy suites. And the reality is I kept trying to explain to them that as you get older, the priorities for a situation like that are more intellectual, more emotional rather than physical,” Gerry told Us. “And indeed, it did turn out to be exactly that. … I was happy how it turned out. Being able to have a conversation off camera was critically important.”
The Golden Bachelor premieres on ABC Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the return of Bachelor on Paradise at 9 p.m. ET.