Hannah Godwin and Dylan Barbour are sitting three feet in front of me, kissing. Their arms are intertwined; she's leaning into him, completely at ease. They look like they've known each other for years—but if you watched Bachelor in Paradise this summer, you know that's not the case. The two got together on Paradise after striking out on their respective Bachelor and Bachelorette seasons. Sparks flew (not without drama, of course), and a few weeks later Barbour popped the question. She said yes. Cue the Neil Lane–sponsored fireworks.
Now, it's just the three of us in a room, and they're cuddling. When I ask a question, one will answer enthusiastically and then look to the other with heart-shaped eyes. If it were anyone else, I'd probably be annoyed—we only met 10 minutes ago—but with them I find this don't-care-who's-around approach to PDA endearing. Sweet, even. It surprises me: As a longtime member of Bachelor Nation, I always take the relationships that unfold onscreen with a grain of salt. After all, the track record of couples from the franchise who are still together is...not great. And you never know who, to quote a now-infamous phrase, is there for "the right reasons." The "reality" of Bachelor-endorsed love stories feels always up for debate.
But there's no debate with Hannah Godwin and Dylan Barbour. These two are very much in love. Exhibit A: Midway through our chat, I ask Barbour how he got comfortable living his life on TV and he replies, "You definitely become desensitized to the cameras coming around." Before he continues, Godwin chimes in with, "Good word!" He smiles sheepishly before accepting the compliment: "Hey, thanks!"
It's a quirky exchange that only illuminates their mutual infatuation. Here are two people who, after only dating a few weeks, seemed to have tapped into each other's minutiae. We're in a relatively relaxed environment, but their chemistry is visibly off the charts. I think that's why I'm not irked—because this love feels like the real deal.
"If you're not truly being yourself [on the show], then how can somebody fall in love with you?" Godwin tells me. "How can you open up enough and be vulnerable enough to let somebody in if they don't actually know you? If I was like, 'Oh yeah, that was all fake, by the way,' it can't work like that."
Barbour agrees. "You just commit to it," he says. "I always call it committing to the process. The producers have a good saying: 'If you're going to be here, then be here.' Just be completely accepting of 'Yeah, you're going to be filmed. Just go for it.'"
To say Barbour "went for it" this season on Bachelor in Paradise is an understatement. His crush on Godwin became clear within minutes of episode one, as did Blake Horstmann's. A love triangle between the three formed, with Godwin ultimately choosing Barbour over Horstmann. (This was just one of several messy storylines Blake was embroiled in. Remember Caelynn, Kristina, and Stagecoach? Shiver.)
Interestingly, Godwin realized Barbour was the one after Jordan Kimball, who wasn't even in the original triangle, asked her out. "As soon as I said yes [to Jordan] the first thing I thought was, 'Dylan.' I was like, 'Oh my gosh! This dude.' I swear in my head I was like, I love him. Literally, it was so strong."
You wouldn't know this from watching the season. Barbour claims the series essentially "cut out" Godwin's "entire personality" and that her crush on him was just as strong. "I've said it before, but I feel like a lot of people think Hannah is one person, but she's the complete opposite," he says. "She's hilarious, sassy, really smart, really driven. I didn't know what to expect, and when I got there she just blew me away."
Godwin was floored after meeting Barbour too. "You can't plan a connection," she tells me. "Dylan's just very friendly, very sweet, very..." She takes a moment before saying in an amped-up, cutesy voice, "Just the best." They embrace again.
How Barbour and Godwin were able to establish such a real connection in the chaos of reality TV astounds me, and I say this repeatedly throughout our conversation. Granted, they were pros at the genre by the time Bachelor in Paradise came around, but that didn't make the act of getting engaged on TV any less strange. "It definitely amplifies how stressful it is," Barbour says of having a relationship play out on screen. "[But] the producers do a really good job of—whether they are or not—becoming your friends and your confidants. So when you get stressed and worked up, you can talk to them."
That said, both Barbour and Godwin agree on the silver lining of having their proposal happen this way. "It makes it, at least for us, a lot more special because we can rewatch it," Barbour says. Godwin echoes this: "It's cool to watch our love story."
One thing that isn't cool for them: All the scrutiny their relationship receives. (Including, in a way, my own with this interview.) Just last week, Barbour made headlines for clapping back at someone who said Godwin can do "so much better" than him. "It can get to you, definitely," Barbour says. "If thousands and thousands and thousands of people are saying, 'You're too good' or 'You suck' or things like that, it's totally messed up."
Barbour approaches the rare haters who come his way with humor. "I'll retweet stuff. I always like it," he says. "I think it's hilarious because then they'll be like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe you responded. Hey! What's up?' To them, it doesn't really mean anything. They just want a reaction."
Godwin has a different perspective. "I had to block certain words on my comments," she says. "After I posted this one picture I was like, 'You know what? I'm just going to block out negativity.' It's just crazy."
Also crazy is the sudden insta-fame that Barbour and Godwin are experiencing from their time on Paradise. Godwin just moved to Los Angeles, and with that comes access to a certain "scene": one with parties, paparazzi, and red carpets. (Barbour's still living in San Diego but travels to L.A. frequently.) The two wouldn't name names but say they definitely know people from Bachelor Nation who've been changed by the spotlight. "You will talk to people, and you can tell they're just, like, so wrapped up in it. That's what's weird," Godwin says. Adds Barbour, "People have an agenda from time to time."
These two aren't worried about getting caught up in either the hate or Hollywood. When I ask how they're navigating both an engagement and relationship in the public eye, it comes back to their love. "When we're with each other, it makes it all seem so less crazy," Godwin says. Barbour feels similarly: "When stuff gets weird, I know I can just come talk to her, and it's all good."
But he can't necessarily talk to or see Godwin all the time. For now, the two are living in separate cities with separate careers and groups of friends. They have no immediate plans to change this, but they trust each other. "We're really good at communicating," Barbour says. "My thing is words of affirmation and physical touch. I feel like Hannah's are pretty much the same."
She agrees. After clocking no less than 15 snuggles between the couple during our chat, I do too. As I walk them out, Godwin and Barbour give me a rundown of the rest of their day: lunch first, then a workout. In a few days, they'll leave for Paris for vacation. Godwin's face lights up as she tells me this. I'm left, again, feeling charmed. The photos they eventually took on that trip (see one, above) are so refreshingly normal, like any other young couple experiencing Paris for the first time. What's more: Godwin and Barbour look exactly the same in front of the Eiffel Tower as they did in front of me. Seeing that reminded me of something Barbour said in our interview about how life has changed since the show.
"I want things to keep being fun, cool, and new," he said. "But at the end of the day, it really just matters that Hannah is there."
Christopher Rosa is the staff entertainment writer at Glamour. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrosa92
Originally Appeared on Glamour