The evolution of Ashley I. and Jared's relationship is a public example of how relationships can actually evolve:
Girl likes guy, guy is not that into her, they become friends– but then it becomes complicated, girl still likes guy, but guy pursues different girl, girl moves on AND THEN guy realizes what he lost and has to fight to win her back.
I've broken down the different phases of the Ashley and Jared relationship and summarized how each one is relatable to relationships within our generation.
Ashley and her tears captured the hearts of Bachelor Nation fans while she was competing on fellow Iowan Chris Soule's season of The Bachelor.
Jared captured the eyes of Bachelor Nation and Ashley while he was competing on Katilyn Bristowe's season of The Bachelorette that same year.
Ashley and Jared finally met while on Bachelor in Paradise 2– and for Ashley, she was quoted as saying she had "a weird feeling" after first seeing him at the bar, which she now claims was love at first sight.
Basically, Ashley continued to pursue Jared up until the fantasy suite. At this time, Ashley was still a virgin, and the two decided to not have sex, and leave paradise as just friends.
How this phase of the relationship is relatable: Anytime you meet or are introduced to someone that you immediately get sparks with it is easy to be blinded by reality. You can get caught up in getting to know someone and the bliss that comes along with it. No matter how things can be going, the real world can still cause the sparks to die out.
Ashley and Jared left paradise just friends and, given their popularity amongst Bachelor Nation, the two were included in much of the press and publicity recent Bachelor alums can receive. The two spent time together and went to charity events, red carpets, parties, and hangouts together.
If you followed the two on social media during this phase, it was evident they didn't let their history stop them from developing a genuine friendship.
How this phase is relatable: One word– Friendzone. Friend-zoning happens all the time. Sometimes someone you are interested in is just meant to be a friend and nothing more– even if it's just temporary.
Ashley and Jared battled the gray area of being together and just friends during this time. In "The Story Of Us" video of the two explaining their love story, they claimed this was a time where feelings were again beginning to develop between the two and attraction was heating up again.
Just like in BIP 2, before things could get too serious, Jared put an end to things.
His excuse? He was confused about his feelings.
How this phase is relatable: "Confused" is basically another C-word to use instead of "commitment" to get yourself out of a blooming relationship. I know that I've said I was confused when I basically just didn't want to commit or wasn't as serious about whoever I was seeing at that time.
The two returned to paradise for Season 3.
Given the romantic history between the two, it was inevitable that the two would try to hit things off again.
The Ashley and Jared romance was back on again until Cayla showed up and had sights on reeling in Jared's heart.
This is when it gets sad for Ashley, who had hopes her and Jared would be together.
Jared and Caila heated things up in paradise, which left Ashley brokenhearted over the loss of her interest and friend.
How this phase is relatable: When you are getting to know someone in a romantic way, I think the fear and curiosity of how interested they are in just you is haunting. No matter how serious you are with a person, you never want to hear them say the words "someone else". Not only is it the biggest slap in the face, it also can leave you feeling a million emotions at once– which is all apparent with Ashley if you watched season 3 of BIP. Whether it's commitment issues, they just aren't as into you as you are into them or they are a fuckboy– the feeling sucks. I praise Ashley for going through it on national television.
After BIP 3, the two went through the "just friends" phase once again.
Things ended with Caila and Jared. Ashley and Jared still remained close friends.
Ashley moves on:
Ashley went on Winter Games, which is when she met Kevin from Canada.
Ashley and Kevin's relationship lasted through Winter Games (which the couple won) and the two continued to date after filming ended.
During this time, Jared went to Australia to be apart of their Bachelor in Paradise.
This is when Jared began to realize he had feelings for Ashley.
While Ashley and Kevin were still together, Jared, Ashley, and a few other Bachelor alum went on an annual vacation they had gone on previously.
This is when Jared made his move after some persuasion.
Jared kissed Ashley in the airport.
But, Ashley still chose to be with Kevin.
How this is relatable: This is typical guy realizes what he has after it is gone situation.
Jared has to prove to Ashley that he is worth it:
Kevin and Ashley ended up breaking up for their own respected reasons –– none having to do with Jared.
This is when Jared decided to step it up and prove to Ashley that he could be everything she thought he could be and would want.
Basically, whatever grand gestures he did worked because the two are engaged.
It took three years of heartbreak, developing a friendship, tons of Ashley tears and experiencing different relationships in order to realize they wanted to be together forever.
How their complete relationship is relatable: Within our generation, we have people that are either ready to dive right into serious relationships, and people that need a little more time to figure themselves and life out before doing so. Ashley and Jared tried their relationship three times before realizing they were ready to be serious. Their relationship represents that sometimes you have to be patient with timing and trust that things will end up the way they are supposed to.