Two years after handing out roses, former Bachelorette Katie Thurston is looking for love again on reality TV — and this time, she knows for sure that some of the men may not be there “for the right reasons” on the appropriately titled FBoy Island.
“This time around is very different because I’ve had my experience, which also means not only can people be on the show for their own experience, but then maybe they could be going after me for — dare I say, the wrong reasons — because I have a platform now,” the 32-year-old reality TV personality exclusively told Us Weekly.
While Katie is well-versed in how filming works after appearing on Matt James‘ season 25 of The Bachelor and starring as the season 17 Bachelorette, she told Us that “more insecurities were present” for her third stint in front of the cameras. “Because I have gone through it and I don’t know who’s trying to use me to get to the end in and experience that five minutes of fame or whatever,” she continued.
Bachelor Nation watched Katie get engaged to Blake Moynes during the 2021 finale of The Bachelorette. The twosome split two months after the finale aired.
“We lived in different countries during the pandemic. I think we were just already up against a lot,” Katie told Us when asked what she learned from the failed engagement. “So you just got to find someone who’s willing to put in the work. And that’s not even to him or myself. It’s just in general, long-distance is hard and maybe not the right choice for someone like me who really wants a hands-on, in-person relationship.”
Fans will see Katie and Blake’s first conversation since their breakup when she makes a cameo on an upcoming episode of Bachelor in Paradise.
“I was very nervous over everything else just to see Blake. … You have to tune in and find out [where we stand now]. I did recently share though [that] I forgot to stop sharing my Uber rides with him. For the past two years, he’s been getting the notifications, so we’re at least on talking terms,” she told Us. “And I found that out and have since turned that off.”
Katie went on to date one of her other contestants — John Hersey — debuting their romance weeks after news broke that she and Blake were over. They split more than a year ago, but she recently heard from him. “My girlfriend who’s in Washington happened to see him on the dating app. So through the grapevine he found out that I knew that and he was like, ‘Yeah, I was in your hometown and wanted to say hi and let you know.’ And then I just didn’t respond. But there’s no bad blood, we’re good,” she said.
She told Us that her biggest takeaway from the months-long romance was “don’t hard launch too early.”
“When you’re in such a public spotlight, I think you do have to keep things a little closer to your heart and private and protected, maybe, longer because as fun as it is to be public in the happy moments, it’s really hard to go through a public breakup,” she said.
So, why did Katie want to give looking for love on reality TV another shot to begin with?
“There were so many different [reasons]. I mean, Nikki Glaser being the host, obviously, it was a huge pull for me as someone who’s chasing my own comedic dreams. I watched season 2 when I was invited and said, ‘OK, well let’s see what this show’s about.’ And watching it, it was so hilarious — satirical, almost — that it was just such a different experience from my Bachelor experience and I was looking for something a little more lighthearted,” she told Us. “So yeah, there’s a chance I fall in love, there’s a chance I win money, there’s a chance I make new girlfriends. It was just a win-win win all the way around.”
Katie stars alongside model Hali Okeowo and influencer Daniella Grace as they date a variety of “FBoys” and “nice guys” who may be in it for the $100,000 prize. If the leads pick a “nice guy,” they split the cash and if they pick an “FBoy,” he has the option to keep the money for himself or opt to share.
“It’s very, very interesting to navigate because you think you know a guy and then later on there’s a reveal and then you’re, like, mind blown,” Katie told Us, adding that she loved working with Hali and Danielle. “It felt like almost every day we were writing the names of the guys on these little scraps of paper and just shuffling them around of who we were for sure has to be an FBoy. There were people that were on the fence and as people got eliminated, we’re trying to do the math, ‘OK, how many FBoys are left?’ Which even then we were wrong. So every day we really are just working together and talking about our own experiences with the guys.”
While there’s a game show element of the show, Katie told Us that the dating aspect of the show actually felt more real than The Bachelorette.
“On Bachelor and Bachelorette, it’s very quick. You’re almost always looking over your shoulder expecting to get snagged away. During FBoy Island, I felt like I got to have so much uninterrupted quality time with these guys even on group sessions where I would just forget, like, 20, 25, 30 minutes later, and then finally another guy’s coming. I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s other guys here,'” she said. “It was such a normal experience in a very un-normal [environment]. There wasn’t a lot of outside interference.”
As a new expert on the topic, Us asked Katie how many of her Bachelorette contestants she now believes were “FBoys.”
“Oh gosh, I would say 75 percent,” she admitted with a laugh. “They changed after the show. Maybe, they came in as a nice guy — things change.”
While she didn’t name names for the “FBoys,” Katie put Thomas Jacobs in the 25 percent of “nice guys” despite his villain edit on the show. “That’s the crazy thing about reality TV — at the end of the day, it’s all just a show and in the real world we are who we are,” she concluded.
FBoy Island season 3 premieres on The CW Monday, October 16, at 8 p.m. ET.