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The embarrassing history of ‘Bachelorette’ contestants lying about past relationships

Robby Hayes and Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher on “The Bachelorette.” (Michael LeGrand/ABC)

This article was updated in June 2019.

This season of “The Bachelorette” has been teasing a potential scandal since the very first episode, and it will finally come to a head on Monday night: Does Robby Hayes, the 27-year-old Floridian whose occupation is “former competitive swimmer,” have a girlfriend back home?!

It’s a valid question, as “The Bachelorette” has an embarrassing history of contestants fudging the truth about their real-life relationship status. Robby, for what it’s worth, vehemently denies he did anything wrong. A preview for Monday’s “hometown date” episode shows Robby’s mother gently informing him that his ex-girlfriend’s roommate has been telling everyone he broke up with his ex just to be on the show. “JoJo has concerns about this, and that could make her question my honesty,” says Robby, on the verge of tears.

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It’s true: Last week, 25-year-old bachelorette JoJo Fletcher confronted Robby about his ex-girlfriend, whom he dated for nearly four years. JoJo was especially concerned when Robby said they had broken up a mere four months ago. “You know what I want at the end of all this: I want to be engaged and I want to start a life with somebody. Are you sure that you’re ready for that?” she asked doubtfully.

Robby did everything to convince her that he was truly over his ex. “I’m way past that relationship, it wasn’t meant to be,” he insisted. “I realized that and that’s why it ended. I can’t express to you enough how ready I am for this, for you, for us.” Yet in another preview for Monday, JoJo is shown saying, “There’s rumors about Robby and his ex-girlfriend. I’m nauseous thinking about it right now.”

The icing on the cake came a few weeks ago when former “Bachelorette” contestant Chad Johnson (the villain of the season) posted a photo of himself making out with Robby’s ex, including the caption: “A great girl like her deserves so much better than someone who lies, cheats, and ends a four year long relationship in order to pursue fame on a tv show.”

Yeah, it’s pretty much a trainwreck. Yet there has been even more drama in the past when contestants maybe stretch the truth or don’t reveal all about relationships before they come on the show. Here are three ways it can play out, and they’re all pretty humiliating:

1) Your girlfriend calls the bachelorette.

In 2010, producers put Ali Fedotowsky on the phone with a woman named Jessica, who claimed she was contestant Justin Rego’s longtime girlfriend; Ali promptly kicked him off the show. Justin was furious and cast all of the blame on the producers, later saying that they tried to “provoke and encourage this scandal to be something it wasn’t.”

2) Blame it on editing.

There was a lot of back and forth in 2009 about whether Wes Hayden was lying to Jillian Harris about having a serious girlfriend and if he was simply on the show to promote his music career. Even when it appeared Wes finally confirmed the rumors were true after he was booted off the show, he later said the producers edited footage to make him look bad. (Note to all future contestants: This is the producers’ job.)

3) You decide that you’re actually still in love with your ex after all.

This is probably the happiest(?) option. Though it was awful for everyone involved when Frank Neuschaefer told “Bachelorette” Ali in 2010 that he realized he was actually in love with his ex, Nicole, and needed to leave the show immediately, presumably things worked out the way they were supposed to.

Read more:

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This completely absurd Chad scene on ‘The Bachelorette’ perfectly sums up the entire series

‘The Bachelor’ and what we really mean when we say ‘diverse’