The Bachelors Australia 2023 Luke Bateman, Wesley "Wes" Senna Cortes and Ben Waddell might have been happy to have each other as a support network as they embarked on the journey of finding love, but there was still a natural competitiveness among the three of them.
"It's been great to lean on each other," Ben, 37, tells TV WEEK. "Although it hasn't always been smooth sailing."
"We all came here for one thing," Luke, 28, says of their quest to find love. "We always said to each other that it would be a disservice to yourself to not pursue someone, even if it meant it created conflict between us."
"The 'bro code' was definitely broken at points throughout the season," Wes, 33, adds.
In its 11th season, The Bachelors was filmed in Melbourne for the first time, with long-time host and 2023 TV WEEK Gold Logie nominee Osher Günsberg providing some consistency.
The lads were all excited about the change of scenery and the potential of cuddling up on a date in the cold weather against the beautiful cityscape, with each bringing their own individual flavour to the new season.
Lumberjack and former Canberra Raiders player Luke turned on what he describes as his "country charm" and was keen to explore his softer side that he discovered once his football career ended in 2019 following a knee injury.
"Football was hindering me from moving on to the next period of life," he reveals. "It made me realise I wanted to travel, meet someone and start a family, and football took up a lot of my time. I needed to invest that time in other areas of my life."
Luke was raised in a traditional family where he was taught, "You're born, you work, you die," but after his time on The Bachelors, a lot of the Bachelorettes taught him how to be more in touch with his "spiritual side", something he is sure his father will laugh at him about.
"My old boy called me a 'pelican' [a slang term for a moron] for going on the show," he says with a laugh. "He thinks I'm an idiot, but I think he'll be excited to watch it."
For Brazilian model and theology student Wes, his family was very supportive of his quest to find love – they have asked him whether he has a girlfriend or not on a weekly basis.
"I am a family guy," he says. "I would love to one day be almost adopted by my in-laws, so I think someone that has cut ties with their family or doesn't share those values will be an 'ick' for me."
Wes has had to adjust more than his fellow Bachelors to the process of dating on the show. In the past, he says, going on dates with women in Australia has brought to his attention some cross-cultural differences that have made it harder for him to form a connection.
"Brazilians kiss quite passionately," he jokes. "I've had girls tell me I need to ease into it. So I have to somewhat get out of my cultural norms and realise what is normal for me is not normal for everyone else, so it's been an adjustment."
For Ben, the biggest change he has had to make, aside from moving back to Melbourne after living and working in New York for 12 years as an international model, was learning how to open up emotionally to the women.
"I struggle to articulate my feelings," Ben reveals. "I haven't been very open. You'd think that if I was going on a dating show, I should know how to date, but it seems like I haven't really known, so I've been learning a lot."
The charming chaps have all experienced heartbreak before and their previous relationships have helped shape their views of what they do and don't want in a partner, how they approach love now and, ultimately, who will get a rose at each ceremony.
"I had a long-term relationship with my partner in Canberra and we were engaged," Luke says. "I was very heartbroken after we split and I don't think I realised how much it affected me. I probably wasn't over that relationship as quickly as I thought I was. But you have to have hope you'll find someone. If you lose hope, you lose everything."
"I've learned that love can grow," Wes says. "I've always believed I would fall in love at first sight, but that's another show [Married At First Sight]. I genuinely now believe that you can have an interest that can grow and turn into love, which is something I hadn't experienced before."
"I've learnt the power and strength of vulnerability," Ben explains. "How important that is and how much work it takes to be in love and to form relationships. It's not easy, but you've got to work on yourself."
While the men are all trying their best to be open to all forms of love, that doesn't mean they won't have some red flags they will be avoiding.
For Ben, he will be looking to steer clear of the Bachelorettes clutching their phones for dear life.
"When I'm with someone, I like to be present and I like them to be present as well," he says. "Having your phone at the table is distracting. I'm not a fan."
The question remains, can the Bachelors let their walls down and find 'the one' in this crazy social experiment?
- Fashion TrendsThese delicate, lace bras deserve a place in your top drawer
Now To LoveToday 3:02pm
- Fashion NewsGet your sweat on with these affordable activewear brands
Now To LoveToday 10:25am