How Arie Luyendyk Jr. Firmly Shed His Player Image

  • November 14, 2018
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“The show would be perfect for @ariejr up until it comes to choosing just one.”Who could forget the shade ex-girlfriend¬†Sydney Stempfley tossed Arie Luyendyk Jr. ‘s way when he was named as ABC’s choice to dole out the roses on the¬†22nd season of The Bachelor. And for one moment last March, that was presumably deliciously satisfying for her, it kind¬†of seemed like she was right. His feet cooling off mere months after he told perky¬†publicist¬†Becca Kufrin he wanted to “choose you every day from here on out,” he¬†ended their brief engagement in an agonizingly long breakup captured by cameras and aired in it’s secondhand shame-inducing entirety.¬†As his now-prescient seeming ex had predicted, choosing just one final suitor at the end of the eight-week process was, indeed, quite difficult for the race car driver and after agonizing over his choice since the end of filming, he felt quite sure that he’d made a mistake in letting reserved¬†saleswoman¬†Lauren¬†Burnham go.¬†

Sensing the inevitable backlash from his flip-flop, a move known in Bachelor parlance as “pulling a Mesnick,” in honor of¬†Jason Mesnick’s After the Final Rose switch from Melissa Rycroft to now-wife Molly Mesnick, he went through all the right motions to show that, no, guys, this time I’m sure. Flying to see Burnham at her parents’ Virginia home, he begged for forgiveness and made nice with her family. And minutes after his brutal dumping of Kufrin aired on the finale special‚ÄĒas he was still being crucified on Twitter by the likes of Sean Lowe and other franchise alum‚ÄĒhe knelt before his new final choice with a fresh Neil Lane diamond¬†telling her, “I¬†have made some bad¬†decisions, but the best decision¬†was running back to you.¬†I can’t imagine a life without¬†you.¬†You have shown me a love that is¬†patient, a love that is kind,¬†and I truly believe you are my¬†soul mate.”¬†Not that any of that was enough for the cynics who began placing bets on the duo’s longevity. Sure, let’s see how long this one lasts. (For the record Kelly Ripa¬†set the over/under at¬†100 days.)¬†

Who put their money on forever? Because this morning the Arizona-based real estate agents‚ÄĒset to wed Jan. 12 at Maui, Hawaii’s Haiku Mill‚ÄĒannounced they will welcome a child together this June, firmly cementing¬†their connection for life. “Nothing compares, absolutely nothing compares to the moment you find out you’re going to be a dad!” the 37-year-old wrote on Instagram. “We cried, we laughed and it really was such a special moment for us, we’re so freakin’ happy!”¬†Take that, haters!¬†For the record, this is the dramatic ending they had always envisioned. Yes, he’d screwed up he readily admitted to anyone that would listen, but didn’t he get points for trying to right his wrong? His biggest crime was making a decision at all, when it can¬†feel¬†next to impossible to commit to a lifetime after just a handful of outings that in no way represent what real life would be like. The day after his final date with Kufrin, who unlike the more camera-shy Burnham “was so herself, on and off camera,” he described to GQ earlier this year, “Production woke me up at seven in the morning, and they were like, ‘Okay, who is it?'”

He was conflicted, but the Bachelor production schedule waits for no indecisive man and so when it came time to slide that 3-carat sparkler on one woman’s hand he chose Kufrin.¬†“I felt like I was trying to be logical,” he explained. “I tried to think like, ‘Okay, I know who Becca is, and she’s a great person. In the moment, I felt like I was making the right choice.”¬†As for the wandering eye a few former paramours had accused him of having, that simply wasn’t the case. Sure he’d had some fun in the years since he got his heart broken by 2012’s Bachelorette Emily Maynard‚ÄĒin her 2014 memoir Courtney Robertson said he’d been dating another woman throughout the whole of their fling‚ÄĒbut as he posed it to GQ, “What 36-year-old man hasn’t dated around if they’re single?”¬†His romance with Burnham, 26, was different, though. He was different when he was with her. Even his Indianapolis 500-winning dad Arie Luyendyk Sr. marveled about seeing his son in love like this. “It’s like there’s one person, almost, between the two of them,” he told the mag. “They’re so connected.”¬†

It was an enigmatic quality Luyendyk Jr. had sensed ever before he really knew the Texas-based beauty. “I just kind of fell in love with her before I really knew who she was,” he explained. “I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I think there is that type of love out there where you just are blown away from the moment you meet somebody. That’s kind of how it was with her.”¬†As the weeks wore on and they hopped from the Bachelor mansion to¬†Lake Tahoe to Paris to Tuscany, he fell harder for her sweet personality, her connection to her family and the fact that they shared the same goofy sense of humor.¬†So even though he picked Kufrin, he liked Kufrin, he couldn’t shake the reminders of what he’d given up. So with his fianc√©e’s permission, he reached out to his runner up, sliding into her DMs on New Year’s Eve and setting up a time to chat the next day. “As soon as I heard her voice,” he recalled, “I knew that I had to end things with Becca.”¬†

In the made-for-TV recap it seemed like Burnham was immediately forgiving, taking back the man who dumped her without reservations and she admits she was excited to see him. Still, she clarified to The Hollywood Reporter a day after their After the Final Rose appearance, “Obviously I had my reservations and I needed an explanation behind it and reassurance of that, but I think we’ve gotten through that and are in a really good place.”¬†Luyendyk Jr., she told GQ, promised to “spend the rest of his life making it up to me.” And that started with the long-awaited on-camera proposal. “She’s always giving me slack that it’s obviously long overdue,” he explained to THR, “and so I wanted it to be perfect.”¬†Really, his goal was to make their entire life picture perfect, starting with their road trip from her parents’ place in Virginia to his Arizona condo. After a seemingly endless vacation that saw them traipsing around Iceland, Spain, Australia and Hong Kong, capturing each moment for posterity and Instagram likes, and viewing some 70 potential homes they put an offer down on a $870,000 four-bedroom Scottsdale home with¬†high, vaulted ceilings¬†and the walk-in closet of Burnham’s dreams. “As soon as we walked in,” Luyendyk Jr. declared, “we knew this was our home.”¬†

The farmhouse style spread was the kind of place they could grow into, they hinted to Us Weekly, weeks before revealing they were already well on their way.¬†“I kind of had a feeling that I might be pregnant,” Burnham told the mag of learning she was expecting this fall. “So my friend insisted on bringing a pregnancy test over.” Giving her man the honor of reading the results, “Arie came out with the test in his hand and tears in his eyes. He was like, ‘You’re pregnant!'”¬†Just to be really sure, they rushed to the store for extra insurance tests, each of the six they chose returning with the same result. “We weren’t trying,” he admitted, “but we are so excited. It’s going to be a whole new chapter in our lives.”¬†Much like their relationship, the initial passages were rough, with morning sickness leaving Burnham confined to their home for much of October. “But over the last week I’ve started feeling a lot better,” she noted, “so it’s nice to have my energy back.”¬†

Arie Luyendyk Jr./Instagram

She’ll need it as she puts the finishing touches on their 100-person vows at Hawaii’s historic sugar mill, a venue resplendent in greenery and charming architectural details. “It’s going to be intimate and very classy,” Luyendyk told Us Weekly of the winter affair that won’t be captured by ABC’s cameras.¬†“The TV element kind of adds a little bit of pressure too,” she explained of her decision to E! News, “so we don’t have to worry about that.”Burnham has already selected her Hayley Paige gown, but they have plenty of fittings scheduled to accommodate her growing bump. “The first thing we thought of was, ‘Oh my gosh. Our wedding,'” she told Us Weekly.¬†“Obviously we’re not married yet, but this is the way it happened‚ÄĒand this is probably the way it was meant to happen.”¬†The same could be said of their union as a whole. Now able to look back on those tumultuous early weeks as a period that made them stronger,¬†bonding together to endure hot takes from all of Bachelor Nation, and even one Minnesota lawmaker who drafted a bill banning Luyendyk Jr. from the state, they’ve fully embraced their origin story. “The fact is, I’m really happy with Lauren,” he summed up in his profile with GQ. “So for me, it was all worth it.”¬†

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