When news broke that Arie Luyendyk Jr. was chosen as the next Bachelor, most of us were pretty surprised. But none of us were as surprised as Sydney Stempfley, who was dating Arie until a few weeks before his new gig was announced. The 26-year-old Ohio native currently works as both a receptionist and a hairstylist in Arizona, where she first met Arie. Though her life up until now has been fairly low-key—we spoke to Sydney while she was “chilling in a robe with a glass of wine”—she’s nonetheless been thrust into the limelight since ABC’s announcement. And although she tried to resist speaking publicly about her relationship with Arie Luyendyk Jr., she nonetheless agreed to speak with us to clear the air about a number of rumors that have been circulating and set the record straight, once and for all. Read below.
Why don’t you just start by telling me a little bit about your relationship with Arie. How did it start?
I slid into his DMs. I was here in Arizona visiting a friend, and I told him that I was in the area and that it would be cool to meet. And he messaged me back within a few minutes and we kind of talked from January to until we started dating in July. We went on our first date in July, when I was here searching for apartments, after I found a job out here after college.
So did you know him from The Bachelorette or from his racing career?
I knew him from The Bachelorette.
I guess you had watched Emily’s season?
Yeah, I did watch Emily’s season. [I] thought he was really charming on the show.
Did you guys meet each other’s families?
Yeah, so I met his dad the second day we hung out. Things moved pretty quick, and I spent my holidays with him—Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I met the rest of his family—I probably met them before that, but I did go to his holidays and met everyone there.
Did they treat you well?
Oh, yeah. I think that they loved me. We did hang out with them pretty often. Probably once a week or once every other week—it usually would depend if they were in Arizona or Holland at the time. Once every couple of weeks, we at least went to dinner with them.
Had you moved out there for this job or because Arie was there?
No, I moved out there specifically, because I had always wanted to live here. I visited 10 years before I moved here, and I just liked it. It’s much different from Ohio, so that’s the really reason that I liked it so much. I was over the winters, but it just so happened that he lived five minutes down the street from me.
Did you guys ever talk about The Bachelorette?
I didn’t bring up the show right away. Definitely not on our first date, but maybe a week or two into it we talked about it. But we did watch the show together every Monday.
What was that like?
Well, we predicted the winners, we would go against each other, we would cook dinner and drink wine; it was pretty casual. There was a time when he was on it. It was Bachelor in Paradise and I think he had to Skype in. It was when we first started dating, and we watched that together, him on TV skyping in to Bachelor in Paradise.
I have the funniest video of the two of us watching it and then him being on TV, and then we’re [panning] the camera to the two of us.
Do you remember Tweeting that The Bachelor would be perfect for Arie until he had to choose just one person?
I do remember that.
What did you mean by that?
I feel like, towards the end, I had a little bit of hesitation—whether or not he was a player. I mean he was nicknamed “The Kissing Bandit,” and you know, in all seriousness, I truly believed he wasn’t a player, because we did spend nearly every day and evening together, but there was certainly hesitation on my end. But looking back, I was just naïve to it. That guy had hoes in different area codes. It’s all coming out now.
Did you find evidence at the time, or now you just suspect it?
Well, no. I never suspected anything while we were together. He definitely had female relationships that—I mean he had a lot of females in his life, but I just took his word for it and believed that they were just friendships, so I didn’t really didn’t suspect anything at the time. Especially because we did spend so much time together. But after the fact, I mean, everything’s kind of public at this point, so I realize there were definitely other girls in the picture. It’s not easy to find out.
It seems like you’ve been put in the spotlight a lot since this announcement. How has that affected you?
I feel like at first I was kind of resisting the media requests and things like that, because it was so intense. I’m definitely not used to that. I’m just a small town girl from Ohio, and nothing like this I would’ve ever suspected to happen to me, so I was pretty quiet at first, but I wanted to bring up the rumors of the two days. They said that we broke up two days prior to the announcement, so I wanted to clear that up, so that’s really the reason I spoke to begin with, to Entertainment Tonight.
Has the media attention died down at all?
Yeah, it has died down. It’s been a lot more chill and cool. But I did get a lot of support, including people from The Bachelor family—just, you know, because it is shitty on his part. But I did get mostly positive feedback.
Were you surprised when Arie was announced as the next Bachelor?
Oh, god, yeah. That conversation—he called me the night of his announcement. I think I was probably the last person that he called, and it was just super emotional, and he’s like, “I know the easiest thing for you to do right now is probably hate me, but I hope that you don’t.” He claimed that he found out one hour prior Good Morning America’s announcement, and I feel at this point that is completely untrue.
We didn’t even know Arie’s name was on the radar.
Right, and that’s where my Tweet came from. I saw his name being passed back and forth on Twitter, and so I was like, “Oh, well.” But I didn’t really suspect anything of it. I was just like, “Really? Arie?” I kind of thought his day had come and gone, you know? Which apparently, everyone thinks the same.
I mean it did cross my mind, when we broke up, just because nothing else was adding up, and it was so out of the blue. I was like, “Hm. Could he be the next bachelor?” But I also thought his time has come and gone.
How did you feel about Peter being the Bachelor?
I didn’t really have any real feelings towards that. I wasn’t sure who was going to be the next bachelor. I liked Peter on Rachel’s season. I thought he was genuine, and I liked the fact that he wasn’t ready to propose and said that on TV and didn’t just fake it. I think that that’s genuine and a good way to go about things. If you’re not feeling it, don’t act like you are.
Agreed. Could you see Arie proposing at the end of his season?
I think that he was honestly holding out for a moment like this. Our relationship was amazing, but can I see him proposing on The Bachelor, his own season? Absolutely. Specifically because they didn’t choose Peter for that reason, so I think that he’s definitely going to try and prove everyone wrong—whether it’s genuine or not, I don’t know.
Do you have any advice or anything for the girls that are competing? I think they’re filming as we speak.
They are filming. I’ve been following along. Which, I probably shouldn’t, but it’s hard not to, because it’s very public. But, do I have any advice? Really, just good luck.
Did you apply to be on The Bachelor this season?
Hell yeah I did. I was totally heartbroken, and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of backlash because of this, because people think I’m looking for my 15 minutes of fame—but at the time, I didn’t know that Arie was going to be the Bachelor, so it had nothing to do with that. I was just kind of like, “What do I have to lose? I think it would be fun.” You know, I moved to a new city, and all I knew was my relationship with Arie, because I started dating him the moment that I moved here, pretty much. I didn’t know how else to meet people so I figured, why not?
Did you get any calls from producers?
No, I didn’t. It was just the online application that I got through, and lot of people were saying, “Oh, you’ll hear from producers. It’s going to make a big storyline.” Whatever, but I really think that there’d be no positive [outcome]—like I couldn’t really make The Bachelor look positive, because of the situation, so I think that they’re trying to protect him in any way that they can.
Right, it’s not like Arie’s a contestant, like how they brought DeMario’s ex-girlfriend on—he’s the main guy.
Right, exactly, so I feel like it would make their choice look bad. Although, I think it would be nice to get some closure from him, because, you know, he did ask to hang out with me the weekend before he went for filming.
Did you hang out with him?
I did not, no. He accused me of lying to the media, because of the two day rumors, so I was just like, “You know, forget it. I think that out of all people you should be able to know that I would not do that,” but you know, it’s okay.
Do you think you would ever slide into anyone’s Instagram DMs again?
Oh gosh… I mean, I wouldn’t put it past myself. Why not?
Photos courtesy of Sydney Stempfley