Bachelor fans were saddened on Monday with the news that season 20 star Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell have split, but perhaps, weren’t exactly shocked.
Although Ben proposed to Lauren during the season finale of his season, which aired last March, their engaged life was controversial from the start after Ben broke a cardinal Bachelor rule — he said “I love you” to both Lauren and his runner-up, JoJo Fletcher.
Read on for a timeline of Ben and Lauren’s candid thoughts on their relationship issues.
WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Ben Higgins on Nick Viall & Vanessa Grimaldi — They’re ‘Off to a Difficult Start’
April 2016: Lauren moves to Denver, Colorado, to be with Ben
Lauren, a former flight attendant, told ET after the Bachelor finale last March that she was relocating to Denver, Colorado, to be with Ben. Of course, moving in together took some adjustment.
Last April, the two were photographed seemingly having an intense discussion inside Ben’s car at Home Depot. The couple remained in the car for about 30 minutes and appeared “visibly upset,” according to an eyewitness at the time.
August 2016: Lauren admits Ben saying “I love you” to JoJo is still an issue
Not surprisingly, Ben being the only Bachelor in history to say “I love you” to two different women was difficult for Lauren to deal with. Although she and JoJo were friendly, she admitted to ET in August that Ben’s prior relationship with the bubbly brunette was a major issue.
“I think the toughest moment in this whole thing was having to relive The Bachelor,” Lauren said candidly during our sit-down with her at her blog’s launch dinner. “Going through that once is one thing, but having to re-watch it once it airs is a whole other thing. I’m only so strong … watching the man you love tell another woman he loves her … is extremely difficult. But honestly, it’s made us way stronger and it’s forced us to communicate and have really awkward, hard conversations.”
During the October series premiere of Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? — Ben and Lauren’s reality show on Freeform — it was evident that the issue with JoJo hadn’t been resolved. The two spoke about JoJo frequently, and got into an argument after they were asked by producers to attend JoJo’s taping of her “After the Final Rose” special.
“I have had a friendship with JoJo outside of you and I, since before you and I were engaged,” Lauren explained to Ben. “The place where I get uncomfortable is when it’s you, me and JoJo because it just takes me back.”
October 2016: Ben and Lauren reveal they’re in couples’ counseling
Ben and Lauren talked to ET at a party for their new reality show last October, and Ben said he was wary of fans’ reactions to an episode revolving around their couples’ counseling.
“We went to couples’ counseling and … it did get very emotional,” he said. “That’s a very intimate moment for me and for Lauren, so that’s something I’m probably just not going to watch.”
They also explained why they were living together before marriage.
“I think a lot of people are judging us for that because of our faith, and we don’t hide the fact that we’re Christians,” Ben said. “Our life had really started out so abnormally, and it was going to be very difficult for us to spend time together with how fast our lives were moving. Any amount of time we could be together to get to know each other better, which I think God would desire for us to do before we make that ultimate commitment.”
November 2016: Ben and Lauren put their wedding on hold
During an emotional episode of Happily Ever After?, the pair went to couples’ counseling, and Ben confessed to his then-fiancée that he wanted to put their wedding plans on hold. “You’re the woman of my dreams,” he said as Lauren cried. “The last thing I want to do is for us to rush that.”
Ben said he absolutely still wanted to marry Lauren — but just needed time to feel comfortable with tying the knot. “This thing sped up real fast, and we haven’t had a second to breathe,” he said at the time. “Now it’s time not to rush anything else.”
Ben again insisted to ET that all was well following the episode.
“That’s one of the things that’s great about doing a show post-Bachelor, it really does highlight the confusion that life is and trying to get to know each other post-show, and trying to figure out how to get married and make everything work in everybody’s best interest,” he told ET. “We are together, happier than ever — no plans to break up!”
Later that month, the two celebrated their one-year anniversary.
“One year ago today I started my life with @LaurenBushnell3 and we are better today than ever before,” he tweeted, sharing a pic of the two cuddling while Facetiming his parents.
November 2016: Ben and Lauren admit living and working together is not “healthy”
In a sit-down with ET, Ben and Lauren admitted that filming their reality show had taken its toll on their relationship.
“The best thing is we’ve gotten to spend a lot of time together, and I think that also sometimes can be the worst thing in a way, because we haven’t really had our space, and both of us are really independent people,” Lauren said.
“I don’t think it’s healthy for any relationship,” Ben added. “Our relationship is not always easy, we never claimed it would be. During the show, you saw a lot of our ups and downs. But we’re very happy… We’re happy that we’re together, and we’ll see where that takes us. … I’d say our communication needs to get better. We both have struggled.”
January 2017: Ben acknowledges some aspects of their relationship should have remained “private”
ET caught up with Ben and Lauren at the charity premiere party for Nick Viall’s Bachelor season premiere, where they once again reflected on living their lives outside of reality TV.
“I’m glad that we could share some of our biggest difficulties with Bachelor Nation, but at the same time, it’s not always healthy,” Ben said. “Some of those things are meant to be private. Some of those things are meant to be just between a couple, kind of working through it together. Some of that stuff as we watched it back, after we had already kind of gotten through it, it was hard!”
“It kind of brought back up emotions,” he explained. “So, now that the show is done, we’re functioning as a very normal couple.”
Lauren also said at the time that they were looking forward to finally planning their wedding.
“It is the new year, and that was when we were kind of like, ‘OK! After the holidays, we’re going to settle down, we’re going to start talking about the wedding,'” she shared. “So after this, that’s when the conversation starts!”
February 2017: Ben and Lauren address breakup rumors
Following weeks of breakup rumors, Bushnell took to Instagram in February to share a sweet pic of herself with Ben, again acknowledging their struggles.
“We ain’t perfect but we tryin,” she wrote.
Though the two spent her birthday apart, Ben slammed breakup rumors with his own Instagram post that month.
“No need to respond often to rumors or ‘fake news’ but the feeling I have in this picture is the same feeling I have for this girl today,” he wrote alongside a picture of him giving Lauren a kiss. “We have entered into a world where rumors will exist we know that, but just know as @laurenbushnell celebrates her birthday tomorrow I am still extremely lucky to be able to share life with her and be by her side.”
March 2017: Ben and Lauren reveal they still haven’t set a wedding date
ET caught up with the couple at Disneyland in March, where they hosted Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings special. Although it had been more than a year after Ben first proposed, the two still hadn’t made any concrete plans to tie the knot.
“We get it, people are interested in when are we getting married — we’re excited for that day,” Ben said.
“[But] we don’t know! We don’t know!” Lauren interjected.
“Our life is pretty crazy, and we’re having a blast being engaged and enjoying that time without having the stresses of planning a wedding on top of it,” Ben added.
May 2017: Ben and Lauren split, a source tells ET the breakup wasn’t surprising
Ben and Lauren announced their breakup on Monday, with a joint statement to People. “It is with heavy hearts that we announce our decision to go our separate ways,” the statement reads. “We feel fortunate for the time we had together, and will remain friends with much love and respect for one another. We wish nothing but the best for each other, and ask for your support and understanding at this time.”
A source close to the pair tells ET that the split “was coming for a little bit,” and that they seemed to be waiting until Fairy Tale Weddings aired earlier this month before announcing their breakup.
“They weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on too many things and were arguing about everything lately,” the source says.
The “final straw,” however, that may have led to the couple calling it quits could have been when Lauren attended the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California, last month.
“Lauren went with some friends and did some things that made Ben upset,” the source claims, adding that Lauren’s partying may have been another reason for the breakup. “It got way too out of hand and Ben got upset at how much time she was spending with friends, and not him.”
The last Instagram pic 27-year-old Lauren shared with Ben was on April 2016, a group shot of her family.
WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell Talk Life as a ‘Normal Couple’ After Reality TV
Meanwhile, 29-year-old Ben’s last social media post with Lauren was a black-and-white snap on May 4, in which he still lovingly called her his “gal.”
“@laurenbushnell continues to spread love while some feel it is their responsibility to spread hate, she is a light in this world,” he wrote. “Proud of my gal, @laurenbushnell.”
Watch the video below to see Ben and Lauren in happier times.