Bachelor In Paradise 2019: Why Alex Nation Originally Turned Paradise Down
Why returning to the franchise was a little easier this time around, and what it's like to walk into 'Paradise' and see your ex.
For Alex Nation, one of the most surprising moments about her time on the fourth season of The Bachelor was the fact that, despite winning the heart of Richie Strahan the leading man, she came out almost like a villain.
"It was like we robbed Australia of their ideal love story," she told 10 daily, "because I was the shock choice, in the end, people didn't know how to take that.
"They thought Nikki and Richie made sense... in hindsight maybe that would have been easier," she laughed.
Part of going on a reality dating show is signing up to put your most intimate moments on show for an entire nation to watch, judge and criticise. But winning -- or at least being the final pick -- comes with the added bonus of being scrutinised long after the final episode has swept up all the rose petals.
About a year after the finale of Richie's season it hit the news that the pair had split. At the time Alex told news.com.au the pair had "internal as well as external pressures" weighing on them.
After the split, Alex said she was approached for season one of Bachelor in Paradise but wasn't in a place where she was ready. "I still had a bit of growing and a bit of self-love to do."
"I think I've always had a thick skin, a good sense of self and known who I am as a person, but you can never come out of these things unscathed," Alex said, "there are challenges, especially when you have people looking into your life literally waiting for things to end."
Heading into Paradise the 29-year-old said she felt more prepared this time, "I know the media can be a funny thing," she said but added she wanted the opportunity at a second chance at love -- both romantically and from the country.
"I wanted the opportunity for Australia to see I'm not one-sided, the reception from the country on my season... wasn't that positive," she said.
In our brief conversation, it becomes pretty clear Alex isn't one-sided. Since her time on The Bachelorette, she established herself as a strong woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself. After Richie, it was widely reported that Alex entered a relationship with Meagan Luxa.
Following that Alex came out as pansexual, speaking to Cosmo for their Pride issue last year Alex said it was something she knew she had always been.
"When I was with Meagan, when I met her I knew there was something about her I was really drawn to," Alex told 10 daily.
"I remember thinking to myself after we had been dating, 'Are you a lesbian now?' and that didn't sit well with me because I'm more about the mind and soul than what's between someone's legs."
"If I had to put a label on it being pan felt the most true to who I am," she said before adding it was an identity she hadn't really seen much in the Australian media.
Pansexuality is a term used to describe those who have romantic and sexual feelings for others regardless of gender and sex. "I'm really quite strong and passionate about it on this season of Paradise," she added, "I think one of the first things Osher asked me is 'Are you coming in here to meet a man or a woman'."
"I kind of say I'm coming in to just hopefully meet someone I can fall in love with, if they're male or female it doesn't matter to me at all. It will be really special."
"I dunno, a regular Aussie gal who grew up in the sticks of Victoria and says this is me, I'll love who I love."
Heading into Paradise -- which Alex promised would be a "ripper season" -- there was obviously one person she was not keen on seeing. Her ex, Richie.
In all honesty, Alex was more surprised Richie even agreed to go on the show at all, "he had done everything to shy away from everything Bachelor after his season so in my mind I thought I would be safe!"
"I really didn't want to see him in that environment... I was nervous at the thought of potentially seeing him -- and when I walked in and saw him I was like oh, shit."
But Richie wasn't the only person Alex knew heading into Paradise, with familiar face Rachael -- also from Richie's original season -- also coming back this season. Alex also revealed that, after their time on the shows, many bachelors and bachelorettes reach out to her via social media for advice.
Acknowledging the difficult time she faced following her stint on the show, Alex became a bit of source of wisdom for anyone who may be facing similar backlash.
"Especially Cass -- she was quickly labelled the stage-five clinger which was what I got too," Alex said, offering the advice that she needed to just drown out the noise. "As long as you know who you are and surround yourself with really good people."
"She copped backlash for quite the same reason as me, being invested in her Bachelor just like I was in Richie."
But Alex isn't heading into Paradise to take care of the others -- even if she did reveal they called her Mama Nation because she was such an "old school" bachelorette -- she's there to find love just like everyone else. And she sure knows how to sell the hell out of it.
"There's love, there's lust, there's deceit... all the exciting things. There's a lot of drama but I feel like it's not The Bachelor without drama, right?"