1:05pm PT by Christina Schoellkopf
'The Bachelor' Runner-Up Raven Gates: I Know I'll Find Love on 'Paradise'
Raven Gates is ready for round two.
Bachelor viewers watched the 25-year-old boutique owner get her heart broken on Monday night’s finale of The Bachelor when Nick Viall told her, “I just don’t know if I’m in love. I feel like my heart is somewhere else.”
Now that four months have passed since the taping, coupled with the closure she received from Viall during ABC’s After the Final Rose post-finale special, Gates is ready to find love on the franchise's summer spinoff series, Bachelor in Paradise.
“I really trust the Bachelor system," she told The Hollywood Reporter on a press call. "I feel like I’m surrounded by a bunch of love matchmakers, so that’s why I’m confident in finding love in Paradise. I just believe in the process.“
Gates had also been confident heading into her final moment with Viall. While en route to what she assumed would be her proposal site in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Arkansas native proclaimed in her final Bachelor interview: “I think Nick loves me just as much as I love him. I just have all the faith in the world that it’s going to end the way I want it to end.”
Ultimately, Viall proposed to Vanessa Grimaldi. The pair, though open about their difficult days, are currently still engaged.
"I want to find someone that is the Evan to my Carly," Gates said, referencing Evan Bass and Carly Waddell, who met on the third season of Bachelor in Paradise and are also currently engaged. "That’s the kind of relationship that I want. I want to find an Evan and Carly type of love.”
Bachelor In Paradise, which will air its fourth cycle this summer, brings rejected contestants from past seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette to Mexico in hopes that they will pair up and find love. The series, also hosted by Chris Harrison, has produced one successful TV wedding — of season two couple Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert, who now have a baby on the way. The third season ended with three finale engagements, though Bass and Waddell are the only remaining couple.
“I had such a wonderful experience [on The Bachelor], even though it ended up in heartbreak. It was just all worth it," Gates continued. "I never left a 'what if.'"
Despite not seeing Viall's breakup coming, Gates, who appeared to be in shock on the finale, did manage to tell Viall that she had no regrets. "I never regret standing here, telling you how I feel," she said, before saying goodbye.
And when she got the opportunity to confront him for the first time, face-to-face, Gates admitted that even though she did think Viall was going to propose that day, she only wishes him the best.
"I'm really happy for you and I want the world for you," she told the franchise four-timer on After the Final Rose. "Just because it wasn't me doesn't mean I wish any ill will in your relationship. I'm really happy that you found your happy ending — and that you weren't rejected!"
Which is why when Harrison asked her shortly after if she'd like to come on Bachelor in Paradise, she jumped at the offer.
"You get a lot of help from producers to guide you, to really bring out your emotions, and that’s hard for me," she said on the press call. "I never hesitated about doing Bachelor in Paradise. I’m ready for love. It wasn’t a hard decision at all.”
While she says “there’s no one that comes to the forefront of my mind” in regards to which other castoffs she'd like to meet in Paradise, she added that she would not turn down an opportunity to meet former Bachelorette contestant James Taylor. "James is very sweet from what I know. I’m very open-minded. I want to get to know James. It’s definitely not a no," she said.
And the country singer, who competed on JoJo Fletcher’s recent season, tweeted after Gates’ official BIP announcement: “Lord have mercy, Raven meet me in Paradise?! You deserve a good Southern gentleman.”
Lord have mercy, raven meet me in Paradise?! You deserve a good southern gentleman. #TheBachelorFinale
— James McCoy Taylor (@james_mccoy_t) March 14, 2017
“I want someone who, if we are out having drinks to dinner and there’s a band playing, that he has the initiative to take my hand and bring me on the dance floor, doesn’t care what anyone else thinks and chooses me to dance with," she added. "So, someone who has initiative, someone who chooses me.”
Despite finding her closure, Gates admitted that she still has a lingering question for Viall: Why did he let her deliver her entire speech at the proposal site, instead of stopping her short?
“I didn’t get to ask him [on After the Final Rose], but I did wonder why he didn’t give me the courtesy, the same courtesy that Kaitlyn and Andi [gave him]," she said of Viall's past proposal experiences on Kaitlyn Bristowe and Andi Dorfman's seasons of The Bachelorette. "But I also understood that he knows me well enough, that he knows I love to say what I’m feeling so I really think he was just giving me that opportunity. I felt like I already knew the answer that he was going to say that he wanted me to leave it all out there on the table."
One of the ways she has found peace with what happened is recognizing Viall made a choice between two unique connections.
“He chose a different type of relationship he wanted to be in. One of the reasons why I was able to compose myself after the breakup is I knew what we had as a couple. I can’t compare because they were [such] different relationships," she said. "And time helps. Time always helps."
She added of her ex-TV boyfriend: “I have so much respect for Nick and I’m so impressed by the man that he is. I don’t think that I could ever be mad at him for making a decision when he was just following his heart or is gut. The worst thing he could do is choose me and not be 100 percent for me.”
Will you be following Gates’ journey on Bachelor in Paradise this summer? Who do you hope she’ll meet? Tell THR in the comments below.