Catherine Giudici Lowe Tells Us What It’s Really Like To Find Love On The Bachelor

Photo: Dave Hagerman/ABC via Getty Images.
Pictured: Catherine and Sean after getting engaged in the season 17 finale.
Every year, a new season of The Bachelor rolls around. And every year, we scoff at the possibility that two people who got engaged on a reality TV dating show — and only after a couple dozen other women have been given the heave-ho — might actually make it down the aisle. Now into its 21st season, The Bachelor has only produced two (two!) marriages, and that's including the time Jason Mesnick dumped fiancée Melissa Mycroft so he could get a redo with runner-up (and now wife) Molly Malaney. That other marriage? The one belonging to season 17's Sean and Catherine Giudici Lowe, who will celebrate three years of marriage this week. As The Bachelor's answer to Bachelorette success story Trista and Ryan, the couple are proof that maybe, just maybe, Chris Harrison is on to something. Now living in Dallas (no, she hasn't met JoJo; yes, Chris Harrison is awesome) with Sean and their six-month-old son, Samuel, Seattle native Catherine juggles her time between parenting, overseeing her LoweCo. range of luxury paper goods, and live-tweeting The Bachelor on Monday nights. (If you don't already follow her, get on it. She's Bachelor Nation's answer to Chrissy Teigen.) Not surprisingly, she's got some opinions on Nick and the women vying for his love. She also has insight into why so many Bachelor couples break up after the final rose — and why that's probably a good thing. Oh, and you won't believe what happens to those fancy Neil Lane engagement rings. Here, Catherine tells Refinery29 about winning over Sean, dealing with her season's equivalent to Corinne, and the dating move producers wanted her to make (she didn't).
Many Bachelor couples don't make it, but you and Sean have emerged as this rare success story. How does it feel?
"I feel very honored that people look up to us. The new couples always look to us for advice and it makes me feel really good, just because it is a hard challenge. Society will want to tear you apart, and natural relationship things are going to want to tear you apart — but you know when you go through these things and you prevail it’s really nice to kind of spread your learning to other people. "I attribute a lot of what people see in us being examples to Sean because he’s just such a good guy. I like to think of Trista [Sutter, the first Bachelorette] as the godmother and Sean as the godfather of the franchise. They were the leads and they made really good impressions and I feel lucky to be under the umbrella that Sean created for himself.” You were sort of a dark horse in your season, because so many other women initially got all of the attention. Ultimately, though, your more low-key and playful approach won Sean over. As a viewer, it was really refreshing to watch.
"The reason why I didn’t really show up much was because ultimately I didn’t think he was going to pick me. So with that kind of in mind, I didn’t take anything too seriously. I took everything with a grain of salt when it came to our romantic relationship, because I was like, there’s no way he’s going to pick me, I’m completely the opposite of him. There were so many pretty girls that made sense with him and I just wanted to have fun and I wanted to have a crush and get to know him, but I didn’t take it too seriously, which is a huge downfall for a lot of the girls. "It was a natural thing that happened. I’m sure if I thought about it I wouldn’t have gotten over my head. I think a lot of girls think that this is the end-all-be-all, and if he doesn’t pick you your life is over. That puts a lot of pressure [on you] and it makes you really desperate. I was like, you know what, I have a great life and if he doesn’t want to pick me this isn’t going to be the end of the world. I have a great family, a home life, I have an awesome career to fall back on and life will go on.

"I was like, oh, I’ll just be a token Asian girl but I get to go travel and do all these fun things."

Catherine Giudici Lowe
"A lot of these girls put so much pressure on themselves and they just go too fast and they think he’s their guy in the beginning and they’re watching people kiss on him and they go crazy. I had the luxury of not doing that just because I didn’t think he was gonna pick me until we were actually further along and I think it was two days before he proposed that I actually said 'I love you.' I had a lot of time to think about it and I was thinking, okay, well we have to be friends first and then you have to know if this is the right fit, if we have chemistry, if we have fun together. It was, do I actually have feelings for this person beyond, you know, a crush and could I live with this person for the rest of my life?, instead of putting that pressure on in the beginning and really going in a downspin." Do you ever watch the old episodes? Are there any moments that make you cringe?
"I haven’t since they aired, which is really crazy. I’ve seen, obviously, the happy times of me and Sean when people make YouTube videos of those. Of course I watch that and get teary-eyed, but I don’t think I made too big of a mistake. Either it’s that or The Bachelor knew not to air [cringe-worthy moments] because I was the girl in the end that they didn’t want to embarrass the happy couple. So I look on all of the memories fondly and I’m probably grateful to ABC for that. "There were obviously some things that I got into. I was in the middle of some fights between Tierra and AshLee and had to witness that. There were some moments that weren’t aired, but Tierra got into it with all the girls and everyone had words with her on a van after one of the dates. I wish that was documented because it was such a good moment and no one got to see it.” Do you ever keep in touch with Tierra?
“No, no, no. We were never close... I feel bad for all the girls and the guys that are villainized. That’s not the show's fault — it’s their attitudes and their actions. But, that’s who they’re going to be known as and you do not want to be on the bad side of all the fans because they have so much love to give and I’m glad that I’m on the good end of receiving that.”


A photo posted by Catherine (Giudici) Lowe (@catherinegiudici) on

It seems like the Fantasy Suite has caused so much drama in the past few seasons. Are you kind of glad that that was pretty much a non-issue because of Sean's choice to abstain until marriage?
“Oh my gosh, so much so. Let’s say Sean wasn’t just about being Christian and ended up sleeping with the other girls — that’s not fun to watch and know about your partner anyway. Even if they aren’t going to be with you, it’s just such a weird situation. And it’s such a short time period [from the Fantasy Suite to the engagement] that you should just wait. Just wait until after the show because it’s never going to be good. The girls are going to be emotional about it towards the guy and it’s just such a convoluted situation. Things can come out and you have something over the person and you don’t know them very well. Just so many things can go wrong that I feel like it’s just, like, three more days. Just wait.”
Let's talk about diversity on the show. A lot of people wonder if there will ever be a Black Bachelor or Bachelorette, and the last season of UnREAL had a nod to that. As someone with a mixed background [Catherine is half-Asian and half-white], do you see this as an issue that could be improved upon? Or is it more just a harsh reality because of the viewing audience and whatnot?
"I think it’s both. The one thing is that the lead has a choice. They say, 'This is my type.'" Sean's season was perhaps one of the most diverse, especially in terms of girls progressing.
“He’s dated a Black girl before the show, he’s dated white girls, blonde girls... He doesn’t have a type and that made for a more diverse cast. The thing is, some girls and some guys are like, "I like blue-eyed, blonde-haired girls," so that’s what they’re going to cast. That’s going to be hard; it’s going to be a discrepancy for the show just to have token [contestants], and that’s what I thought I was. I was like, oh, I’ll just be a token Asian girl but I get to go travel and do all these fun things.

"But I think that there’s definitely opportunity in the future to have a lead that is more diverse because I think the audience is actually more diverse than you think. So many people come up to us thanking us for representing good morality on the show, or just people saying ‘we're rooting for you.' They could be older, they could be younger, they could be Black, many different people watch the show. So I think it could be [possible] to cast somebody in the lead that is somebody different. I really thought it was going to be Marquel Martin. It should have been Marquel. If they were going to do it, it should have been Marquel because he is handsome, he is eloquent, and everyone loved him."

"The audience is actually more diverse than you think."

Catherine Giudici Lowe
What's your take on the women appearing in Nick's season? [Note: This interview was conducted before season 21 premiered.]
"They get bomber and bomber every season. I’m so glad I do not have to compete in this one because all the girls are flawless. I don’t know if there are new eyebrow kits or, like, what’s going on, but everyone looks immaculate. Not that our girls weren’t really hot, but it’s just like a different level now and everyone’s showing off their body more. I think the girl that wore the shark costume that thought it was a dolphin is really funny and really cute. I don’t know her name [Alexis] but she is obviously a standout. When you do stuff like that and you can kind of laugh about it, you’re obviously going to hopefully make it farther along because you don’t take yourself too seriously. I think there’s a girl named Sarah that keeps coming up and she just looks really happy. But I don’t know Nick’s type because he’s gone for a lot of different types of girls. He’s such an intellectual that I think he needs someone who is intelligent." Nick's been getting a lot of heat. Are you rooting for him?
“Oh, I like Nick. I think a lot of people didn’t see his charisma in the beginning just because of how he entered both seasons. But if anyone watched Bachelor in Paradise they saw how cool of a guy he is and everyone’s rooting for him now I think, I hope, because he’s really cool. I’ve seen him a couple of times in person, we’ve had conversations and he’s just, he knows who he is and he doesn’t apologize for it and that makes for a very strong man, but he can also be vulnerable. So I think this season is going to be really fun to watch; he’s not going to apologize for things and I really like that. It’s kind of like with Kaitlyn: She’s going to do things and it’s going to make a splash but at the end of the day that’s who they are. It’s not going to be a boring season because they’re not going to try and just be the norm.”
Photo: Todd Wawrychuk/ABC via Getty Images.
Pictured: The couple were married on January 26, 2014.
Obviously the show has seen a lot of breakups. Do you have a theory on why so many of these relationships fail?
"There are so many factors that come into play when you are introduced to this life. I don’t fault anyone for breaking up. You come from different worlds; you have 10 weeks together, which is probably equivalent of, like, three dates; and now you’re tied to this person who you don’t know. You get their phone number after you have a ring and you have to pretend for four months that you aren’t with that person. So you’re living this very weird life where one person is out doing media, touring, and talking to all these really pretty people and being the center of attention and you could potentially feel forgotten. "There’s a lot of animosity that could come up in that situation and it’s really hard, especially with being the girl and the guy's getting all of this girl attention. I mean, the fan base of The Bachelor is women. The women watch it, they fawn over the guy, and there’s more competition after the show ends. So you think it’s done and it potentially is not, and if the guy is not making you feel secure about your relationship then it could go south very quickly. The amount of attention that you get, you could take it one way or the other. You have to figure out how you’re going to live your life. In any relationship you have to sacrifice a lot to make it work, and usually that doesn’t mean you’re staying in the same city. So I had to move and that was a huge issue. I had to give up my career and my family and my friends and if you’re not feeling like you’re being supported on the other end...well, you’re not married yet. Who cares if you break up?" So better to break up than get divorced. You mentioned pretending not to be with Sean while the show was airing. Were you able to tell your family about the engagement?
“Yes, for sure. You’re able to tell a very limited few [people] that you can trust, but still you’re walking around and let’s say ex-boyfriends call you and you’re like ‘Oh sorry, I can’t see you because of blah blah blah,’ or you can’t go on dates for four months but you have to make excuses. ‘Oh, it’s in my contract.’ You have to go back to work and not talk about it and you feel very isolated because the life that you had before is just a little bit altered and it feels like a dream. I’m going through magazines seeing how much my ring was worth and I can’t say a thing, I can’t celebrate this engagement. It’s just super-strange.”

"You get to wear [the ring] for like three days and then they take it. So it’s like a dream."

Catherine Giudici Lowe
What happens to the ring during that separation?
"You don’t get to see or touch the ring until you get it fitted or you wear it for, like, the People shoot because you want it in the shot. But you don’t get it back until after the finale and After the Final Rose. You have to give back the ring if you break up. I think it says in the contract that you have to [be together for] two years [to keep it], but I mean, who wants to stay two years for a ring?"
So he proposes and puts the ring on, and then you hand it to someone?
“You get to wear it for like three days and then they take it. So it’s like a dream. You wake up and you’re like, ‘Was I even engaged? Am I even with this person? Did that just happen?’ And you’re away from the person unless you live in the same city, which I think only Josh and Andi were. I’m in Seattle, Sean’s in Dallas doing media tours, and you have to communicate like you're in this long-distance relationship — and you don’t know a thing about the person. It’s just a very bizarre reality that can make you get crazy. “Anyone would struggle with that. It’s a secret relationship with somebody and you don’t even know their middle name and you're trying to keep this alive. Again, I don’t fault anyone for breaking up because there is a lot against you, and a lot of stuff that you have to figure out by yourself. The producers are still going to be there for you but, you know, it’s such an unprecedented situation that no one can really help you. That’s why Sean and I feel so great about being there for these people because you just want to be heard and you want to be understood and that’s what I think Sean and I like to offer those people."


A photo posted by Catherine (Giudici) Lowe (@catherinegiudici) on

But you've made it through. What's life like for you now as a new mom and entrepreneur?
"Every morning Samuel wants to wake me up around 6am by just talking. So I hang out with him for a while. I have the luxury of working from home so my assistant comes over and we hang out with the baby and talk about business stuff. My company, LoweCo., is based in the DFW area, and we source paper products and sell them online and wholesale to stores. We like to do a lot of events and new campaigns, and right now we're working on plantable cards that grow for spring. We just come up with really fun ideas trying to figure out and maneuver what owning a business is like in this space that’s super-saturated. It’s a super-big challenge for me because I’m not a business-minded person; I’m on the creative side. Every day is a little bit more grown-up than what I’m used to, trying to figure out how to balance a baby and a business.” Finally, we just did a feature on memorable Bachelor intros. Any tips for a nailing it?
“That’s why I like the girl with the shark costume, because you don’t want to take yourself too seriously. I was asked, or encouraged at least, to ride my unicycle. I was like, 'I’m absolutely not doing that' and I still made a fool out of myself by being super-awkward. But you have to choose: Are you going to be a joke that could make everyone think you’re dumb, or do you just be normal and kind of play it underhand? I don’t know. It is a game, and it’s not. I chose to be a little more chill.”

Yeah, and it worked!
"[Laughs] I think it was much more beyond that, that Sean and I work [for other reasons than] me not riding my unicycle."

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