When Ali Oetjen was announced as the next star of The Bachelorette Australia, nothing could have prepared the 32-year-old for the backlash that was to come.
"I was gutted," she tells TV WEEK. "There's no point in saying I'm a good person, because everyone is going to have their own opinion [of me].
"But I can only be true to myself. Everyone has a past, and I was judging the guys [in the mansion] on how they were at that moment, and that's how they acted with me. They were all really beautiful and realised who I was as a person that way.
"I've been heartbroken twice, and I'm only going to do what's right for me – and that's to find my life partner."
Indeed, after failing to find love with Tim Robards on the first season of The Bachelor Australia in 2013, Ali was accused of "cheating" on Grant Kemp following their stint together on Bachelor In Paradise earlier this year.
Disgruntled fans took aim at the reality star and called for a replacement. But that hasn't stopped Ali from hoping for her "happy ever after".
"Of course, you get discouraged [by your past relationships]," she explains. "But it's made me more logical and realistic about what I expect in a partner and in a relationship."
Her relationship with Grant, in particular, has made her wary of being too trusting of people in The Bachelorette Australia mansion.
"It made me think twice about the future and realise that I can't trust everyone," she says. "I don't regret Paradise, because it was beautiful, but it's a different world once you get out."
Ali is adamant she doesn't want to go into detail about why her relationship with Grant ended.
"I don't want to fuel it in any way, because he's someone who wants that," she says.
Ali does, however, say Grant wasn't the person she thought he was.
"It was confronting," she reveals. "I went to Los Angeles and he wasn't who he described himself to be, nor did he live the lifestyle he said he did."
Now, Ali – who cryptically says she's "very happy" but won't spoil the show's ending – knows exactly what she wants in a partner.
Her Mr Right has to be somebody she can build her life with – kids and all.
"There was no hiding what I came on the show for – a life partner," she says. "Wanting children is a deal-breaker, because I want to get on with it as soon as we're both ready.
"It's also important to know he's open to moving to Adelaide, because I love it there. It's a great place to bring up a family."
The radio account manager is close to her mum, dad and brother – and her childhood was spent enjoying their "own backyard" as a family.
"We never went overseas," she says. "We just explored our own backyard. We'd always go on four-wheel-driving trips around Australia.
"I think that's where my love of exploring and being outdoors comes from. My brother and I would always play with the dog outside and climb trees."
It's this side of Ali's personality that she can't wait for viewers to get to know.
"I'm just a normal girl who's grown up with Disney movies and is close to my family," she explains. "I'm a tomboy, even though people look at me and wouldn't think it. I love roughing it and getting out there and enjoying life."
Ali adds that she can't wait for viewers "to see the real me".
"I'm just a normal person looking for love," she says. "In order to get there, there will be struggles, challenges, fear… but I've always been vulnerable, because I want to find love."
THE BACHELORETTE AUSTRALIA premieres Wednesday, October 10, and Thursday, October 11, 7.30pm, Network Ten.
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