Kirk DeWindt shocked America (and his Bachelor in Paradise cast mates) when he broke up with his girlfriend, Carly Waddell just days before the show’s final roses were about to be handed out. Kirk’s actions earned him a lot of backlash from ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ viewers, but the 32-year-old personal trainer says he doesn’t regret going on the show.
In an exclusive interview with The Ashley–one of his first he’s done since the show ended–Kirk talks about the fun he had in Paradise, and why he’s happy he decided to come out of ‘Bachelor’ franchise retirement to go on the show.
“The best part about ‘Paradise’ was the friendships made,” Kirk told The Ashley. “The cast spends all day together and you get to know one another very well quickly. The group of guys (and girls) were great and no matter what the show may have portrayed of some of the cast, there really were stand-up people there.”
Kirk and the rest of the Paradisers didn’t really have much to do while on the beach. Unless they were on a date, or having a dramatic moment on the beach, things got downright boring at times.
“The hardest thing about [being on] the show was not being productive,” he said. “I’m used to always being on the go in my normal life and you’re forced to really slow things down in Paradise. Time moves slowly and the days tend to blur together because there isn’t a whole lot of change up in your daily itinerary (unless you have a date).”
So how did Kirk and the gang spend their days?
“We sat around. A lot. And bulls**t. A lot,” he said. “We would swim in the pool and the ocean a good bit, lay by the pool and the ocean, and drink fruity ‘Paradise’ drinks. We also had a bocce ball set that we abused daily which was good fun. Dan, Mikey and I would get a workout in everyday which was part of our routine as well. Mostly we ate, drank, and were lazy.”
As is the case on all ‘Bachelor’ franchise shows, the cast was not allowed to have cellphones or Internet access, despite the fact that Paradiser Joe Bailey (and several other cast members) were at times seen with a cellphone during one episode.
“We weren’t allowed any of those,” he said. “All phones are confiscated before filming begins. Production must have dug out Joe’s phone and gave it to him for dramatic effect.”
There was certainly no lack of drama in Paradise. From constant crying spells (cough, Ashley I., cough), to dramatic fights, at times the drama on ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ seemed manufactured, but Kirk insists that it isn’t.
“It’s real. It’s not scripted although heavily edited,” he said. “But really, it’s a bunch of cool, Type A personalities hanging out on a beach. Rough life, right?”
Obviously, Kirk’s breakup with his girlfriend Carly on the finale was not fake. Carly’s stunned reaction mirrored that of the show’s viewers, who watched as Kirk broke things off with the woman who seemed so perfect for him. Kirk told The Ashley that, while his change of heart seemed sudden on the show, he had actually been having doubts about being with Carly for a while.
“I mentioned that I had doubts for the last week of Paradise,” he said. “Really, a week isn’t terribly long to sit in your doubts and make sure what you’re feeling is actually what you’re feeling. I didn’t want to say anything earlier because Carly had mentioned to me on several occasions that she ‘runs’ at the first sign of a partner expressing doubts or showing ‘red flags.’ So, I really wanted to make sure of what I was feeling/thinking before I said anything to her. The last day or two my doubts became more prominent and I knew that we weren’t right together. So, that’s when I ultimately made the decision to end our relationship.”
Kirk said he struggled to break the news to Carly, knowing how invested she had become in their relationship. Still, he says he made the right decision.
“I honestly don’t regret how I did things,” he said. “I was being true to myself and making sure of my feelings before ending things with Carly. There’s really no easy or good way to end a meaningful relationship. So, I know it would have been hard if I had spoken with her a week earlier or if I waited until (near) the end when I was sure I was making the right decision.
“It wouldn’t have been fair to either of us if I let the relationship go on only to fizzle out after we went back to our ‘real’ lives,” he added. “I knew she was really invested and I was afraid it would become more so after the last overnight date. So, I did things the best I could by ending things before that happened.”
Kirk says that there was no way he could have broke up with Carly off-camera (as it’s against production rules). Many viewers were outraged over the breakup and took to their social media accounts to let Kirk know how they felt. Kirk says that the backlash he got was very hard on him.
“I knew that people would sympathize with Carly over the breakup because she was hurting. The truth is, I was hurting too,” he said. “I was just as disappointed as her because I wanted it to be her. I really wanted it to work. I wanted to find my ‘person’ and it’s a tough thing when you realize that the person you’re with isn’t ‘the one’ for you.
“Amidst the backlash (and there has been A LOT) I’ve also had an incredible amount of support from people who understood that I did the right thing,” he said. “I’ve chosen not to read the comments under my social media or any media outlets. So, the ‘distaste’ is falling onto deaf ears. Again, at the end of the day I know I stayed true to myself and how I felt.
“I’m terribly sorry that I hurt Carly- it’s the last thing I wanted to do,” he added. “Again, it wouldn’t have been fair to let the relationship go on any further when I knew my heart just wasn’t in it like it should have been.”
These days, Kirk said that he and Carly are “cordial,” although they don’t have much of relationship.
“Sometimes it’s best for both parties to take the lessons learned and move forward with your life,” he said. “I wish her nothing but the best, she truly deserves someone great.”
Despite the backlash, Kirk says that he is happy that he went to Paradise.
“I’m a firm believe that life is an experience-oriented thing,” he said. “So, when the call came in [to go on the show] it’s impossible to say no. I’ve had great experiences with ‘The Bachelor’ franchise in the past so it made sense to say ‘yes’ to this experience as well.”
The prospect of finding love in Paradise was something that Kirk said was inviting.
“I’m at a place in my life where I’m absolutely ready to meet ‘the one.’ The experience honestly was great,” he said. “[It was a] tough ending and, of course, I wish I didn’t have to hurt Carly, but I was following my heart.”
Kirk currently lives in Minnesota where he works as a personal trainer and wellness coach.