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The Moment Tayshia Decided To Send Ben Home: A 'Bachelorette' Story In Screenshots

- The Bachelor -
The Moment Tayshia Decided To Send Ben Home: A 'Bachelorette' Story In Screenshots

Here's the thing about Ben being sent home on The Bachelorette: I could've told you it was coming before their date was even over. In fact, I started to get that "Oh, no" feeling about a second before the music turned discordant on the reality show — and when I saw Tayshia's face as she said goodbye to him for the evening, I knew it was curtains on their relationship.

While it was clear the ABC lead liked him, she was also waiting on him to make it clear just how much he liked her back. The problem? He simply couldn't get the words out. Let's take a look at what went wrong.

The Set Up

"Ben is someone I've had my eye on since night one. There's just something about him that I'm really drawn to," Tayshia shared in a confessional before the date had even started. "Our one on one last week allowed him to really put down his walls and be open and vulnerable with me, and I know where my heart stands with Ben. I'm starting to fall in love with him. But he has not shared where his heart is, and so today is going to be crucial. I'm hoping he can continue to be vulnerable and let me know where his heart is."

Despite that, it was evident to anyone with decent vision just how into each other these two were. Throughout the date, their eyes were full of love pretty much anytime they looked at each other. Tayshia called herself "smitten," and the feeling was very obviously mutual. In my personal life, I've always maintained that I won't date someone unless they are delighted by me — and Ben was very clearly delighted by Tayshia. Just look exhibits A, B, C and D below.

Exhibit A

When they choked back charcoal wellness shots together, Ben only had eyes for her — even if they were tinged with just a little bit of panic at the thought that he might have killed her with wheatgrass when the day had hardly even begun.

Exhibit B

When they tried on hats at their fake Venice Beach boardwalk, Ben looked so high on life that he might just float away.

Exhibit C

This is how Ben looked at her when she asked if his parents thought he was ready for marriage. Not only did he make it clear that he was definitely good to go, he also looked like he wanted to drop to one knee right then and there.

Exhibit D

Tell me this isn't the face of a man who can already picture a white picket fence and his five Adams-Smith babies running around in their yard.

Even Tayshia picked up on it. "When Ben looks at me, it's like he's looking into my soul, and I really, really like it," she said in a confessional. The love was there — but it needed to be put into words. "I definitely am falling for Ben. But until Ben says it, I feel like that's when it's really going to mean something."

But no matter how clear his feelings were to the audience, the reality star himself still needed a little push to recognize that what he was feeling was, in fact, love. When he sat down with family friend Antonia, she called him out on it immediately. As he described how Tayshia makes him feel like no one else ever has in his life, tentatively identifying that feeling as "legitimate happiness," she told him that she was 100% sure that it was actually something else.

"Listen, as soon as I saw you guys sit down together, I was like, 'It's lights out.' Like, Maddie looked at me, I was like, 'It's over. Like, I can tell.' ... You love her," she told him. "It's not even a question. I can tell." As he took in and processed that information, you could see the realization hit him. See Exhibits E, F, G, H and I.

Exhibit E

For a second, he wasn't ready to come to terms with it, telling Antonia he "didn't know."

Exhibit F

When his friend insisted that she knew what he was talking about, he started to get on board ... and even looked fond of the idea of being in love.

Exhibit G

Just watch that realization begin to sink in.

Exhibit H

When his brow furrowed, it was as if he couldn't believe that he didn't realize it sooner. "Love is, like, a scary word," he said earlier in his conversation with Antonia. But once the word was out there, it didn't seem so scary after all.

Exhibit I

When he finally said it aloud himself, he had a legit twinkle in his eye. "I'm in love with her," he admitted. "That's wild."

The problem? "I just don't know how to say it," he confessed. Antonia assured him it wouldn't be that hard. He just had to tell her the "same way you say it to all of us, the same way you say it to everyone else." She urged him to "just let go," letting him know he was already three-quarters of the way there. But when the time came, he froze.

The Psych Out

I'll never know exactly what went on in Ben's head, but his confessionals give us an inside look into his thought process. Based on the fact that he's still wearing the shirt from his date (and the fact that he's wearing a different shirt in a later confessional), I'd guess these first few ITMs were filmed after he and Tayshia talked with his sister and friend but before they left to speak privately.

"After the conversation [with Antonia], I was like, 'I am in love with her,'" he said thoughtfully. "My brain's exploding. I did not know it was love until Antonia called me out on it. ... Tonight was the most important night of my life. Having the opportunity to sit with the people that I care most about and who know me the best gave me new perspective, and I leave in love. Tonight, I want to be able to tell her all that and then tell her that I've fallen in love with her."

But as the Bobby Byrd song goes, "Saying it and doing it is two different things." And the saying it is not so easily done. While chatting with Antonia, he put a voice to just why he was struggling. "It's just, like, once you say it, it can't be unsaid," he shared. "Once you give it to somebody and they give it back to you..." When he and Tayshia said goodbye to two of the most important women in his life, there was a moment when Ben accidentally looked right at the crew and the cameras and you could practically hear his thoughts screaming.

Exhibit J

"Oh, shit," this look says. "Now I have to actually do this."

The Talk

Despite that, he was still riding the high of his realization when they sat down on a bench. When Tayshia gushed about how she had a "really good day," he just about lost his shit agreeing that he did, too. "You, like, know all the things now," he told her. "I got to share a little bit last time. ... They probably shared all the other stuff that I didn't tell you. ... I got, like, weirdly emotional."

But as Tayshia asked him to put into words just how he feels after that night, he started to lose coherency. "I feel, uh, so good about, like, the way that this is..." he said, trailing off and attempting to compensate with vague hand gestures instead. "It's so easy..." He trailed off again, taking a second to collect his thoughts. "Yeah, I ... I don't know."

In a confessional seemingly filmed the next day (note that he's wearing a white shirt now), he described how he felt "incredibly uncomfortable, super nervous" and like his heart rate had "never been higher." His brain just "couldn't work," he said. And when Tayshia said that it was about time to head to bed, you could see him start to realize that this was a moment he couldn't get back. But this time, we need to look at Tayshia's face as she waited for a confession that didn't come.

Exhibit K

The Bachelorette was patient as she told Ben that it wasn't "weird" to be emotional, but you could see how hard she was trying to draw his vulnerability out of him.

Exhibit L

When she asked him how he felt, she smiled encouragingly — but the tension was evident in her mouth, eyes and brows.

Exhibit M

As he started to tell her how "good" and "easy" things felt between them, she lit up.

Exhibit N

As he continued — and then faltered — her smile started to wilt. Eventually, she gave up. But she didn't say goodbye. Instead, she said, "We gotta go to bed." But Ben didn't seize that opportunity to be like, "Wait, I have just one more thing I want to say." Instead, he let the moment pass him by.

Exhibit O

As he playfully asked if he had to just watch her walk away, she turned her whole body away from him as if she needed a moment to collect herself.

Exhibit P

After she turned back to him, all she had to offer was a shrug. "Guess so," she answered, giving him one last chance to speak up. But all he said was, "OK."

The Aftermath

He seemed to realize almost immediately what he'd done. Though he grabbed her and kissed her before she left, she never fully turned her body back to face his. He watched her go, but as far as the camera showed us, Tayshia never looked back. "In true Ben fashion, I just blew it," he said in a confessional voice over. "I'm in love with her, and I should have told her. And now I'm terrified that I won't get a rose this week, and I won't get to tell her how I feel. And that kills me inside."

His predication was unfortunately true, but that didn't mean it was an easy choice for Tayshia to make. Because here's the deal — Tayshia looked at Ben with just as much love in her eyes as he did when he looked at her. But this isn't a normal relationship. If Ben was the only man Tayshia was dating, we have no doubt that she would have held his hand a little more through this process, been a little more patient with him, given him a second chance to come clean. But this is The Bachelorette, and she's still dating three other guys who aren't afraid to let her know exactly where they stand.

Unfortunately, she decided to let Ben go, and their conversation after the fact made it clear that she stood by her choice. But even as she tried to impress upon him just how great she was and how much she cared about him, getting him to respond with his own authentic thoughts and feelings was like pulling teeth. Her face said it all.

Exhibit Q

When he didn't immediately react, showing only a blank face in response to Tayshia's words, she took a moment to gather herself as her frustration and disappointment shone through.

Exhibit R

When he said, "It is what it is," she visibly lost her cool and let her head fall to the side before she managed to regroup.

Exhibit S

She literally begged him "not to shut down" on her as he continued to profess that he would be "alright," that he's "always alright."

Exhibit T

When she realized he just wasn't going to be able to get there, she lost it for a second.

Exhibit U

But when he assured her that he was "heartbroken, but would be alright," she gave him a look that read very clearly: "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Exhibit V

Ben seemed to get that — and he looked like he was as frustrated as himself with she was in that moment. But he just couldn't bridge the gap between admitting something to himself and admitting it to her. In almost perfect unison, they got up together and started walking to the car.

The Analysis

Look. This moment was heartbreaking to watch. I felt almost as desperate as Tayshia for Ben to just come out and say how he felt. And I was rooting for him, at every moment, to hurdle over his hesitation and run back to demand a second chance. Based on the preview for next week, it seems like he does just that — but too little too late.

"The fact that he couldn't give me, like, one ounce of emotion was extremely disappointing," Tayshia said. "There was no emotion at all. He wasn't angry, he wasn't mad, he wasn't sad. ... I just felt like, 'Please make me feel like these past few weeks meant anything to you.'"

Admittedly, there's an inherent power dynamic at play here. Unless you're Ben Higgins, you're not supposed to tell more than one contestant that you love them. You can tell them that you're falling for them, that you can see yourself falling in love with them and that you are actually falling in love with them, but you can't tell them you love them.

As the lead on the show, you're responsible for the feelings of 30 different contestants, and those feelings are often all-too-real by the time you get down to the final four. Telling more than one person you love them could not only jeopardize your relationship with your final pick at the end of the process, it could also hurt someone who's about to get dumped just a few days later. So while it's not fair for Tayshia to expect Ben to tell her he loves her without any reciprocity, that's just the way it goes. And when he couldn't break down that barrier, she had to focus on where she stood with the other guys who would.

She doesn't just have their feelings to keep in mind, however. She also has her own. Nobody wants to be the Bachelor or Bachelorette whose relationship fails just a few months after the finale. And if you're actually planning to get engaged (though Tayshia seems to be undecided on this aspect of the process), it's a big decision to choose one man over another. She needs to somehow find the man that she not only loves but can actually see a life with — and she might love one man more while recognizing that they're fundamentally incompatible in the real world.

Maybe Tayshia chose to say goodbye to Ben because she thought he had more work to do on himself before he could give his all to someone else. Or maybe she knew their relationship wouldn't go the distance and she wanted to let him go before he got in any deeper and said the words that, in his own mind, couldn't be unsaid. Once he broke down that wall with her, if she picked someone else, he'd be forced to reckon with the fact that he opened up only to get shut down. Like he said, it is scary. But it's also scary to say goodbye to someone you know loves you and take a risk on someone else that you're not so sure you can rely on.

This show is complicated when it comes to relationships, and this season in particular seems to feature more real romances than ever before. Maybe it's the fact that nobody is getting swept away in the fantasy of bungee jumping together off the Eiffel Tower or declaring their love in an underwater shark tank or something, but what Tayshia and Ben had felt authentic and honest — and there are still three men left. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out for these two. But I'm not ready to give up hope that there's still love on the horizon for them both.

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Images: ABC

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