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So Are Dale & Clare Back Together Again — Or Am I Being Punk'd?

- The Bachelor -
So Are Dale & Clare Back Together Again — Or Am I Being Punk'd?

Let me start by saying that I am a hopeless romantic, and a part of me always wants to believe that the love we see on The Bachelor is the real deal. But Clare Crawley and Dale Moss' strange post-show relationship has me questioning everything. First there were the cutesy TikToks, then the awkward Instagram breakup, but it's the new photos of Clare and Dale walking around Florida that have truly broken me. Is it real? Is it fake? Can we even trust Bachelor Nation to know the difference anymore?

The photos in question surfaced on Tuesday, Feb. 16, almost one month after Dale unceremoniously announced his split from Clare on Instagram. It appears that the two are cozying up again, or at least are friendly enough exes to go for a mid-day walk around Venice, Florida, as reported by Reality Steve. (They were even seen holding hands on their sporty walk.) Clare and Dale were later spotted by at a local bar by TMZ.

I'm just going to say it: these photos look staged. Yes, the poor quality of the pics suggest they were taken on a random cell phone, and, yes, you'd think that if they went through the trouble fo staging photos, they would at least find something slightly more interesting to do (sorry walks). But, there's something about them that feels familiar. Like when Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas walked their dogs in front of a pack of paparazzi.

I have a lot of questions. But to start somewhere, I've got to ask...

Why are they in Florida?

There are so many things about these photos that just don't add up, but the location immediately jumped out at me. What the hell are they doing in Florida in the middle of a pandemic? Neither Clare nor Dale live in the state — Clare is based in California while Dale is frequently spotted in New York City. So why meet up there? Was it all just a ploy so they could get away with walking around sans mask?

What's up with those outfits?

The casual athleisure attire might be a signal that the two are comfortable enough with each other that they're not trying to dress to impress. But if you had just had a messy breakup with your ex and were in the middle of a he said, she said situation about said breakup, would you wear sweats?

Why now?

It's really the timing of these pics that make it feel like a big PR stunt orchestrated to help Dale rehab his image. Let's not forget, the Bachelorette heartthrob has been getting negative press for months. Rumors that Dale was cheating on Clare were already gaining steam before their engagement even aired in November. Their breakup, which went public on Jan. 19 after Dale posted a one-sided statement on Instagram announcing that the two had "decided to go our separate ways," made him look even worse after Clare revealed she had not approved it, despite the fact that his statement repeatedly used the pronoun "we." In her own Instagram post shared three days later, Clare later insisted that he was only speaking for himself, writing, "I was made aware of a 'mutual' statement at the same time you all were."

In the month since, Dale has deleted his breakup statement, put it back up, deleted it again, shared a separate statement on his Instagram Stories, and gone on Instagram Live to tearfully discuss the split. "The situation with Clare, it's fucking sucked," Dale said in a video shared Jan. 30. "And I think everyone looks for a right answer and a right way to handle these things... and there really isn't one." The odd video didn't really do much to help his case in the eyes of Bachelor Nation. But now that Bachelor Nation is in the middle of another crisis, this one surrounding Chris Harrison's decision to "step aside" following his defense of racism in an interview with Rachel Lindsay, it's the perfect time for Operation Rehab Dale's Image to strike.

Look, it's possible that Dale and Clare are genuinely trying to work on their relationship. And if that's the case, then I wish them the best. But they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and these are saying, "Hey, remember Dale? Turns out he's not the worst! Even Clare likes him again." And to that I say, "No, thank you."

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Image: ABC/Craig Sjodin

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