Amid the sandy drama in last night's Bachelor in Paradise, Kevin Wendt and Astrid Loch found some time to have a real, live couple fight. They've been dating almost since day one in Paradise, which means they're maybe two weeks (or three weeks, depending on filming schedules) into a relationship. But they're on a Paradise timeline, which means they've spent almost every waking moment of the past two weeks together. They're practically married! It also means they're having troubles in Paradise, and not the normal kind of trouble. (Normal kind of trouble usually includes but is not limited to: dating other people and kissing other people.)
Wendt, an import from Bachelorette Canada, was worried that he and Loch hadn't suffered any relationship hardships. So, he made a strange plea. He wanted Loch to date someone else, maybe. At first, his request sounded like a jealous Paradise-r who wanted some necessary Paradise drama. After all, if Loch and Wendt weren't engaging with the "Paradise" style of drama, they likely wouldn't make the final edit, condemned to have their relationship spelled out on Warner Bros' cutting room floor.
But — and this is where it gets interesting — Wendt's impulse was based on his previous experiences in Bachelor Nation. Wendt is a two-time alumna of the Bachelor-adjacent relationship. In 2016, he got engaged to Jasmine Lorimer, Canada's first Bachelorette. They split five months later, claiming on Instagram that the split was amicable. This year, Wendt met Ashley Iaconetti on Bachelor Winter Games, where he was compared to a "cross between James Marsden and Tom Brady." Iaconetti and Wendt "won" Winter Games, whatever that means, and they proceeded to date for a few months. In March, they split.
In May, Iaconetti announced that she was dating Jared Haibon, an erstwhile Bachelor in Paradise contestant. They are now engaged, and Wendt claims that Iaconetti cheated. (She kissed Haibon before she ended her relationship with Wendt.) As a result of these two breakups, Wendt has Bachelor whiplash. He told Loch that he doesn't trust that the women he meets in the Bachelor bubble will remain tethered to their relationship in the real world.
"I feel like me and you connected so quickly, we haven't had to go through any tests," Wendt explained, citing mounting anxiety. "I just don't think you understand how I almost didn't even come here until the day before because I was worried that what had happened will happen again."
Wendt is now one of the few Paradise contestants who brought baggage with him to the beach. Colton Underwood, a fan favorite from Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette, endured some of the same issues when Kufrin briefly came to Paradise, although he decided that she'd granted him closure by arriving in Mexico. (He's now dating Tia Booth on the show.) Haibon himself had similar issues; on Bachelor in Paradise season 2, he explained that he was still suffering from his breakup with Kaitlyn Bristowe on The Bachelorette. And then, of course, there's Iaconetti, who came to two iterations of Paradise with dreams of Haibon in her back pocket. On Bachelor Winter Games, former Bachelor Ben Higgins openly wept when he explained his lingering attachment to Bachelor winner Lauren Bushnell.
"My fear is that if I was to be broken again, I'm not full enough right now to recover from that," Higgins told Chris Harrison. Wendt's fears aren't that different.
Embedded in this relationship talk was also some grade-A mental health discussion. Wendt, a firefighter, told Loch that he was frustrated because he didn't have therapy in Paradise.
"I need to talk to somebody! I don't have therapy! I go to therapy twice a week for this exact reason. I talk about everything," he told her, looking weepy. The Bachelor and The Bachelorette employ an on-set psychologist to address the needs of contestants when they arise. According to Amy Kaufman's book Bachelor Nation, this person, until 2017, was Dr. Catherine Selden. Former contestant Olivia Caridi cited Selden as a resource she leaned on heavily both during and after production. Bachelor in Paradise doesn't appear to have the same practice, and it's taking a toll on Wendt. And, for that matter, Loch, who is among the more level-headed contestants on the show.
The good news is that Loch and Wendt emerged from the discussion — tears and all — a happier couple. They are newly determined not to go crazy in Paradise. Few other contestants can promise the same.