Would you accept J.P. Rosenbaum's rose?
Let's be real, we know our answer, but it seems The Bachelorette alum might require some convincing. He told E! News in an exclusive interview that he feels "ready to date" nearly four months after he and Ashley Hebert left Bachelor Nation floored by news of their split. He's just not sure that means diving into hot tubs and riffing about how naked bungee jumping is super similar to falling in love.
"I highly doubt they're looking for a 44-year-old divorcé," he cracked when asked if he'd consider doling out the long-stemmed blooms on an upcoming season of The Bachelor. Though if the offer came, "I would say probably not just because of the stage of life that I'm in," explained the dad to son Fordham, 6, and daughter Essex, 4. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity but is that what I want to do right now, take a two month pause from my kids, from my business? Put everything on hold to do this?"
Back in 2011, he was all about signing on to court a gorgeous fun-loving, aspiring pediatric dentist "when I was single, early to mid 30's," he said of appearing on Hebert's season. "I had responsibilities but it's not like I had family. It was a different time for me." So now, he continued, "I'd have to give it some serious thought. But my first reaction is probably not."
So you're saying there's a chance...
A slight one, admittedly, the real estate developer noting that a decade and roughly a quadrillion hair care gummies ads have passed since he made his reality TV debut. "A lot more comes with it after the show," he noted of the not small group of people who sign on with visions of sponcon opportunities dancing in their heads. "You have an Internet following, you can make some serious money and now everyone's got a podcast or a blog."
Which means the lead has to play detective, determining who's there for the quote-unquote right reasons. "Everyone can get something out of this and there is a path to make a lot of money," he explained. "But you can't just discount that as an ulterior motive."
So Rosenbaum likely won't go the champagne-and-Neil-Lane-diamonds route, but he is eager to continue his journey. (For the record, Paradise is a hard pass: "There is no way.")
"I definitely want to start the next chapter but dating as a soon-to-be 44-year-old father of two in a global pandemic, what does that even look like?" he questioned. "I think I'm terrified even without the pandemic."
Ideally, he'd love a meet-cute, maybe a casual encounter over a pint of beer, when socializing is a thing again. "I'm old-fashioned, I like things to happen organically, hopefully," shared the New York native. "But at the same time, that's not the world we live in right now. It's not like we're going out to bars."
While he acknowledges that dating apps are far more mainstream than when he was last in the market, he's not sure he's ready for fans to slide into his DMs. "Would you date someone who reached out to you through Instagram? I have kids that I have to think about. You don't know what their motives are, so that frightens me," he reasoned. "But then again, how is that any different than meeting someone on a dating app?"
And, admittedly, he scored big the last time he went the unconventional route. His and Hebert's charming love story captivated millions of viewers, ending in fairytale made-for-TV vows and an eight year marriage that has allowed them to remain friends after the bloom came off the rose, so to speak. (Hebert even stepped in to chauffeur her ex home from a December meniscus surgery.)
"We always got along," he noted of their breakup, among the most friendly in Bachelor land. "She and I have been in the same place for months and months now. We're fine, we're friendly, we co-parent. We know we're going to be in each other's lives forever. There's no fighting which is great. It's really as amicable as one could hope for in these situations."
Their biggest challenge, he revealed, was working out how to impact their kids' lives as minimally as possible. Though they sold their Miami-area house, they rented apartments just 15 minutes apart so Ford and Essie could stay at their school.
"That was always the number one priority for us—the kids come first," he noted of their divorce logistics. "Even over the last year, as we decided this was going to happen, we always were on the same page with everything about the kids, whether its custody, school, financial."
As a result, he continued, "The kids have transitioned really, really well. There's been no change in any personalities, they're doing great in school." He attributes some of that to their age, young kids often being adept at rolling with the punches, but it certainly doesn't hurt that his and Hebert's co-parenting arrangement is a fairly well-oiled machine.
"Even though things were only made public a few months ago we've been dealing with it for a lot longer," he noted. "So there's been a co-parenting situation for a while. We're in a rhythm. Equal share and we both spend a lot of time with the kids. That's the easiest part of it all."
The tough stuff has been staring at the still-empty walls of his new three-bedroom rental as he fields condolence calls and messages from the likes of Chris Harrison ("We had a nice text exchange") and franchise pals like William Holman and Mickey McLean from his season as well as Jason Mesnick and Nick Viall.
"It still feels very transitional," he says of life in his new apartment. "There are so many things I need to buy—hang art, put up a mirror. It feels very unfinished just from a living standpoint."
Other things have snapped back in place, though, his late 2019 experience with Guillain-Barré syndrome firmly in his past. "I was very, very lucky that my case was on the lighter end of the spectrum," he shared. "It was still terrifying."
After all, his body was "somewhat paralyzed," he said, leaving him unable to use the phone, put on deodorant or pick up his kids. "I spent six to eight weeks in occupational therapy relearning how to button buttons and stand on my tippy toes and tie my shoes and walk. It was probably the middle of February where I felt about 100 percent. So that's behind me, but it was definitely a scare."
As for what's in front of him, ideally, he'd love to be settled back down.
"I grew up in a family of four, my parents were in their house for over 30 years," he noted. "It's where all your memories are. I want that for my kids, for them to have the space. I like that feel. I have to sit and figure it out. But ultimately yes, I would like to get back to a house."
As for any potential roommates, it's been a minute since he flexed that particular muscle. But he knows his ideal person would be a good fit with his children. The rest is flexible. "I don't want to put a label on anything," he explained. "I don't want to say, 'Here's what I'm looking for.' You can't control how fast you fall for someone. I mean, obviously, I think I proved that."
His only ground rules involve not introducing anyone to his kids right away and taking it slow. "It's been almost ten years of not dating," he said. "So I have to figure out what this next stage of dating will look like for me. I do feel like I'm a little bit stuck and I want to turn the page, I'm just not sure how to do that."
Well, just throwing it out there: We're guessing Mike Fleiss may have some ideas...