After the Final Rose

The star of “The Bachelorette” reflects on love in the time of reality TV
When most of us go through bad dates, hot-tub dalliances, and painful breakups, it’s usually only in front of our now-insignificant other, not an audience of millions (and usually doesn’t involve use of a lascivious “fantasy suite,” either). The same can’t be said for the love life of DeAnna Pappas, a confident, likeable Newnan resident who rose to reality TV sweetheart as a contestant on ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Though she was rejected in the former and ultimately ended an engagement spawned by the latter, Pappas, who turns twenty-eight this month, now cohosts Lifetime’s wedding-planning show, Get Married, and splits her days between Newnan and Los Angeles. It seems Pappas’s public heartbreak has made her something of a pro at looking for love.

When you’re in Atlanta, where do you like to meet people? When I’m in Newnan, there’s half of me who just wants to sit around the house and hang out with my family, since I don’t get to see them as much anymore. And I own my own house in Newnan, so that’s home to me; that’s where my heart is. If I’m trying to go out with my girlfriends for a night on the town, we usually head up to Midtown and walk in some hole-in-the-wall bar and hope that our odds are good!

I bet you hear a lot of pickup lines. Ugh, pickup lines do not work on me. I think they’re extremely cheesy, and I’ll just turn around and walk away. I was up in some bar in Buckhead recently; this guy walks up, and he’s like, “Hey, De-ANNA, from The Bachelorette!” And I’m like, ugh, strike one. It’s De-AH-na. And he’s like, “Listen, I enjoyed watching you on TV, I don’t want to bother you, I see you’re with your girlfriends.” And I’m like, “Oookay.” Then five minutes later, he’s like, “I’m lying! I want to bother you.” And he just pulls up a chair and bellies up to my table and won’t leave for the rest of the evening. I just want someone to be completely normal: Walk up, say hello as if you have no idea who I am.

But you are sort of famous now—was it easier to get a date before TV? It was easier before. I went through a long period of time where guys didn’t want to date me; they wanted to date the person that they thought they knew from a television show. My life is different now. I’m not just a normal person anymore, whereas before I was just this normal girl living in a small town, bartending and selling real estate. With that, I’ve grown and changed into a different woman as well.

What kind of man is this new woman looking for? I’m definitely done with the kind of guys who want to use me to be famous, or want to use me to further their career, or want to use me to get on television. I want just a guy who genuinely cares about me.

Are you dating anyone now? I’m definitely dating, yes. One person in particular.

Can you tell us anything more? No, because people will definitely know who he is. And I’d like to keep the privacy of it for a while. Because I was on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, people always jump to conclusions the second I start dating someone, or the second I have a boyfriend. They’re like, “Oh my God! Are you going to marry him? Oh my God! Are the signs there?” And I’m like, calm down—it’s only been a month!

But you’re still ready to settle down? I love being single. For me, it was such an important part of my life because I really grew and got to know myself—I traveled a lot, experienced the world, hung out and met new people, dived into different types of culture, and really just lived for myself without having to worry about anyone else. Am I done being single? Yeah, obviously I’d like to meet someone to share my life with. But just because I am quickly approaching thirty doesn’t mean I’m willing to settle.