Six months ago, before The Bachelor, I sat down with Nick Viall on the set of Bachelor in Paradise. It was our first meeting—and, to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I had skipped Andi Dorfman‘s season, so my only insight into the double runner-up was what we saw on Kaitlyn’s season. The verdict? I didn’t care for him.
But then I sat down with him in Paradise, and our conversation genuinely surprised me. This wasn’t the typical media-trained Bachelor contestant who said “stay tuned” every other sentence. This was a guy who wanted to go deep and talk about everything and anything. And talk he did. I watched out of the corner of my eye as the on-set publicist tried to wrap us up for a good five minutes before Nick stopped talking.
What I realized was that love him or loathe him, Nick is devoted to finding the right partner and figuring out why his relationships work (or don’t). “Nick is a real guy with real emotions,” twin Emily Ferguson gushed to me. “He’s the most genuine guy. He wants to get married. He wants to find the right girl, but he doesn’t want to settle.”
Compliments aside, Nick has faced his fair share of criticisms. Even this season, I’ve wondered about a few of his choices (including that rose for Corinne). But Nick has thought that out already. He’s thought everything out. Here, he tells us his reasons for all of it.
Glamour: When we sat down in Paradise, I asked if you and Jen could get engaged. You said, “I am kind of holding off my answers in terms of [forever] because I have some soul-searching to do and decision-making.” I walked away thinking, “Yeah, he’s not getting engaged.”
Nick Viall: Obviously, I wasn’t really allowed to say anything [at the time].
Glamour: When I finally watched it play out on television, as great as Jen was, I thought something was missing between you two. It seemed like you want someone who challenges you more.
Nick: I would agree. I don’t want to make this too much about Jen; she’s great and beautiful and smart. She certainly possesses a lot of the qualities I think any guy would be lucky to have. It might sound cliché, but there’s just something that was missing. Not to take anything away from Jen, but that spunk or that challenge [was missing].
Glamour: Let’s talk about this season and Corinne.
Nick: People have had their criticisms of Corinne—and of me for giving her the rose [in last week’s episode]. Was Corinne aggressive? Yeah. People could criticize Corinne for maybe sending the wrong message, but you can also look at her as someone who really took a chance and had some fun. She certainly didn’t get a rose because she took her top off.
Glamour: You actually looked uncomfortable in that moment.
Nick: [Laughs] I was! Not to take anything away from Corinne, but I was uncomfortable! I was taken off guard. I was uncomfortable, also, when Jasmine grabbed and kissed me. To all the women’s credit that day, they were willing to have a lot of fun with [the group date], but they were also pretty aggressive, which made me uncomfortable. But it’s the first date, and I thought it was important for me to set the tone and not criticize the women for going for it. Sometimes Bachelor world can have its almost natural hypocrisies, like are you here for the “right” reasons? Are you here to meet this guy and get to know this guy? And then criticize that very person for not being focused on rubbing other people the wrong way. There’s a delicate balance. That’s why you saw when someone interrupt, I just let things play out.
Glamour: I wanted you to speak up and say, “Hey, so-and-so just sat down, come back in five minutes.”
Nick: You actually saw that night one with Liz. It was a big priority for me to talk to all the women, so even though Liz wanted to continue the conversation, I wanted to make sure everyone had their time. Early on, I deliberately took a step back. Again, I can appreciate other women’s criticism in that environment of Corinne. At the same time, I was also curious how they would handle that. Would they talk to me? How would they communicate their frustrations with me? Group date roses are a way to validate the [person who gets a rose] on a group date, but also a way to see how people react. I wanted to see how they would handle the stresses and how they would they communicate as a result of not getting their way.
Glamour: Do you think Corinne is like you? She’s very open and goes after what she wants, like you did on Kaitlyn’s season.
Nick: I don’t know if I’d make a direct [correlation]. Certainly, I was willing to be assertive. I went for what I want. I think Corinne interrupted more people on one date than I ever did in two seasons. But, at the same time, I was assertive, and I’m glad Corinne was assertive. Like I said, there is that balance. It is a weird environment, and I didn’t want to sit there and lecture Corinne and say, “Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” I wanted to see how it all played out. I was curious to see how the women would react to me giving Corinne a rose as much as I wanted to validate Corinne.
Glamour: The day before you started filming this season, I sat down and interviewed Corinne, Raven, Vanessa, and Susannah.
Nick: Interesting. There’s a lot of personalities there…
Glamour: A lot of personalities!
Nick: Susannah, unfortunately, went home. Truthfully, Astrid said it best when she made that comment [that] I didn’t get to know Susannah. That’s the unfortunate reality of 30 women showing up.
Glamour: Do you want me to tell you who I thought was the best match [of the girls I met]?
Nick: Go ahead.
Glamour: Vanessa. I loved her. She reminded me of Jillian Harris.
Nick: Sure, that Canadian [upbringing].
Glamour: She showed me the picture book she made of the kids she teaches back in Montreal, and she was eating a whole bowl of spaghetti when I walked in. I loved how authentic she was. I also talked to Raven. Last week she said, “If Nick likes someone who is leading with their sexuality, then no wonder this is the fourth time for him.” How did that make you feel?
Nick: I wasn’t particularly in love with that comment. A lot of people have this perception that doing it four times is a failure. It’s not a competition, but I look at it like this: Look at Andi and Kaitlyn. I connected with two women that in reality I realize I wasn’t their type, but I was able to build very strong connections with both women. It didn’t work out and probably for the best, but there were also 24 men who went home before I did on both of those seasons. So, there were a lot of great things about those relationships. Ultimately they didn’t work out because I don’t think they were supposed to work out. I don’t think it was something that I did wrong. I don’t think if I would have done anything different that those relationships then would have worked out. And then with Jen, as you mentioned before, it wasn’t the right fit. I don’t look at it [that I’m a failure] when people [like Raven] make comments like that. Am I a sexual person? Sure. Again, it’s only the second episode that has aired so far. I think people will find that I do like a good conversation. I do enjoy an intellectual woman. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of beautiful, sexy women I sent home night one that I wasn’t able to connect with. You look at Angela, someone who is a model and is beautiful, and I just didn’t connect with her on a cerebral level. Again, it’s early. I think you’ll see a lot of criticisms and ideas thrown out there, but it’s part of what it is.
Glamour: At the end of last week’s episode, the girls discovered you had previously slept with Liz. It looked like all hell was going to break loose. Is the fact that your sexual history is so public a concern of yours?
Nick: I’m not in love with [the fact that it’s out there], but I also like transparency. The whole thing with Andi/After the Final Rose is an event that I’ve had to answer questions about. I’m over it, and I wish it would go away. But that’s the reality. I wasn’t expecting the things that happened with Kaitlyn and I to make TV, but it did. I wasn’t expecting Liz to show up and that be talked about, but it did. At the same time, I’m someone who thinks sex is a positive thing…
Glamour: Yes, as long as you’re safe about it.
Nick: People have a variety of opinions about sex. I think people should be respectful of other people’s opinions on it, but I’m glad overall that sex is talked about on a show that is about love and finding someone. Sex is a part of that. I’m glad that it is talked about even at the expense of my personal life. At the time same time, with the Liz situation, I like to think that the sex wasn’t really the main focal point. It was more about the pre-existing relationship in itself and the fact that we had met [prior]. I asked for her number, and she respectfully decided not to give it. I was OK with that decision, and then I moved on. So, it was more or less her approach to the entire situation [now]. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and understand, but it seemed like every step of the way there was a confusion into how her questions were answered. I’m glad they showed me talking to her about how I don’t think her and I did anything wrong. It was less about sex and more about accountability and owning the situation. People have made comparisons to me coming back on Kaitlyn’s season. While there is an incredible amount of differences with those situations, there is a parallel of me taking a chance and showing up. When I did that, I was aware of the fact that I might have some direct criticisms come my way in terms of my intentions, but I thought about that before I came on [the show] and was prepared to answer those. I just thought at a minimum, Liz would expect the same thing. Like, “OK, I’m going to take a chance, but I’m going to bet Nick is going to have some questions.” She seemed to be ill-prepared for that. She talked a lot about self-awareness, and I felt she showed a lack of that in terms of the situation. That was disappointing.
Nick: Had Liz shown up and just acknowledged right away that we had met and said, “Listen, I know you asked for my number, and I know I declined, but I regretted that. There were times I wanted to reach out, but I felt embarrassed and didn’t. Then, I found out you were the Bachelor and realized this is it. This is my last chance, so I decided to take a risk and appreciate the questions you might have and am going to answer them. If you want to send me home, I understand, but I had to take this risk…” Had she said that, it would have been a very different situation. I think I would have been a lot more inclined to respect her approach. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.
Glamour: On another note, we have Jaimi, the first publicly bi-sexual contestant on the show. Tell me about that.
Nick: I didn’t want to make it a big thing. I’m an open person; I think it’s always best to take a step back before you cast any judgment. I was more curious in learning more about it and where she was at in her dating life, and you may see more of those conversations. I don’t know what they’re going to show. It was important to me to not make any judgments. Again, you can have fun with it and still be respectful of the situation. I hope with Jaimi it comes across that way.
Glamour: In the episodes we’ve seen so far this season, what surprised you the most?
Nick: I didn’t realize Liz went into [the show right] off the bat wondering if I would remember [that we slept together] and then subsequently be intrigued by the idea that I didn’t. That immediately rubbed me the wrong way. To me, it begged the question of like, “Alright, if you thought I was the type of guy who wouldn’t remember that evening, then why would I then be a guy you thought maybe you could fall in love with?” I can’t imagine any person would want to fall in love with someone who didn’t remember their first encounter, especially given what happened when we first met. So, that was surprising.
Glamour: How have you changed since Kaitlyn’s season?
Nick: You know, I like to be a person that always learns from the good and the bad, but I actually get sensitive with this idea that there’s somehow been this transformation. For someone who’s gotten a lot of criticism from the beginning of Andi’s season as the perceived villain to now being the Bachelor and being considered a “fan favorite” on Paradise, I’m not that different of a person. I think you’ve gotten to see more of my personality over these seasons. Hopefully, people will appreciate that. I’ve certainly learned little things along the way. But as a whole, I think I’m the same person. I actually get sensitive about that for whatever reason; I don’t like to think that I was this kind of garbage human being three years ago and only because of The Bachelor have I made this transformation. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff and learned from little moments, but I’m the same guy.
Glamour: If there’s one thing I noticed when we first sat down in Mexico, it’s that you really love to talk things out and think them through. Communication is very important to you.
Nick: I appreciate that. I’ve always been that way, but as I’ve gotten older and matured, I think that has only increased. I’ve always been a bit of a talker; I like to talk things through. I’ve always been a good communicator. There’s only so much time for them on the show to air things. Last week, you didn’t see a lot of conversation. It’s always about the making out. You wish they could show more of the conversations.
Glamour: Lastly, forgive me for this, but what exactly do you do for a living? Do you have a job?
Nick: [Laughs] No, it’s fine! I had a great career selling software. I was living in Chicago, and after Kaitlyn’s season I was lucky to have the option to go back. They always gave me their blessing to take risks out here. Since then, and recently, a few months before I was asked to be the Bachelor, I actually started a small business with a couple partners. It’s online and for men’s grooming products, so I’ve been focusing a lot of time on that. Before The Bachelor, I was out in L.A. kind of dabbling in modeling a little bit. Right now, my focus career-wise is on that [men’s grooming] business. I’m very lucky that being in the Bachelor world gives you a platform. I’ve used my business acumen that I’ve learned in corporate America and the platform that I’ve been fortunate to gain in the Bachelor world to kind of see if those two can work together.
The Bachelor airs tonight on ABC at 8 P.M. ET. Come back to Glamour.com immediately after the show for our sit-down interview with Vanessa. For more with Nick and whether he’ll do Dancing With the Stars after The Bachelor, click here.