It’s looking more and more like Clayton Echard’s name will go down in the annals of Bachelor history … but for all the wrong reasons.
Fairly or otherwise, Clayton is now being mentioned alongside Peter Weber and Juan Pablo Galavis as a contender for the title of worst Bachelor in franchise history.
And his unpopularity mostly stems from his interactions with two very different women.
First, Shanae Ankney got away with a lot of bullying right under Clayton’s nose.
Many viewers felt that Echard could have saved himself and everyone else a lot of trouble if he had just listened to the other women instead of being blinded by his attraction to his attraction to Shanae.
And then there’s the Susie Evans debacle.
If you’re all caught up on recent episodes (and if not, consider this your Bachelor spoiler alert!) then you know how this unfolded:
Susie went last during Fantasy Suite week, and after a heated exchanged over Clayton’s decision to sleep with the other two women, she was sent home.
Fans were split on the interaction, with some arguing that Susie should have said her piece before Clayton went on those dates, and others insisting that Clayton’s reaction to her concerns was way out of line.
The anti-Clayton contingent is by far the more vehement of the two, with some overzealous haters reportedly sending anonymous death threats via social media.
In a new interview with Kaitlyn Bristowe, Clayton opened up about the difficulties he’s encountered in the days since his Fantasy Suites episode aired.
Explaining that he “didn’t think it was gonna be this bad," Echard revealed that the backlash from fans has taken a serious toll on his psyche.
"And it’s just such a hard thing to try and navigate and then to be on so many interviews having to go along with this narrative [and] not be able to, like, tell what’s happening because we all don’t know yet," he told Bristowe.
"And I’m just so sorry that you’re going through such a hard time, and I hope you know that it will pass. Do you feel that there’s light at the end of the tunnel?”
Clayton went on to reveal that he finds one allegation in particular to be especially upsetting:
“I’m almost fuming at people using this term gaslighting. I am so angry at the fact that people were trying to say I’m a gaslighter because it couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he said.
“I looked at the definition and it’s when you try to convince someone that their reality is not factual. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth," Echard explained.
"I did not try to convince her that her reality was not factual. I was just trying to convince her to give me another chance and understand where I was coming from. Not once did I say, ‘The way you’re thinking about this is wrong, you are in the wrong going this way.’ Never once did I do that.”
Clayton insists that his feelings for Susie were genuine, and that he had no intention of manipulating her.
He admits that he was "immature" in their final interaction on the show, but he says his actions were not calculated.
“I did not manipulate her,” he said.
“I allowed my emotions to attack her and I wish I wouldn’t have done that. I was very upset. And I let my emotions get the best of me. I’m 1,000 percent in wrong for that," Clayton continued.
"And I really wish I would never have acted that way toward her. But I did not gaslight or manipulate her and that is 1,000 percent a fact.”
Clayton went on to reveal that he did not choose the order of the Fantasy Suite dates, which obviously had a major impact on the outcome.
“The answer is no, I didn’t [pick the order], but I don’t know how to answer that question,” he said.
“They came in and they said, ‘We think you should do this way,’ and they convinced me. … They’re like, ‘You need to keep your other options open, you need to keep everything open, so don’t close off.
"Because if Susie goes first, we’re afraid you’re gonna close off.’ So I said, ‘OK.’ … I did have a say in it at the end of it all.”
He added that Susie did not express any concerns prior to the dates:
“[The topic] didn’t come up [with Susie earlier]. All three of the women said, ‘I want you to explore the other relationships fully,’ almost verbatim."
Echard added that while he understands some of the criticism against him, he feels that much of it goes too far:
“I get if you’re upset with me. But for you to sit here and say, ‘You’re a POS,’ … I can’t say the words, ‘F you, go die,’ like, all of these comments coming in every minute," he told Britstowe.
"I’m getting 100 a minute in my DMs. … 98 percent of it is just people telling me that I’m a terrible human being, I don’t deserve to be on this earth, I don’t deserve to be around these women — I just don’t deserve anything. And they hope they wish that the worst falls upon me.”
As for how his season will conclude — well, Clayton says we’re all in for a shock:
“Nobody has the slightest clue of what’s going to happen," he said.
"Again, I’m online a lot and I’ll just say that I haven’t even seen one person get it right. That’s the way I’ll tease it."