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‘Golden Bachelor’ Castoffs: ‘There’s no Loss in This Experience’

Natascha and Jeanie went home without roses — or regrets

spinner image the golden bachelor contestants natasha and jeanie
Natascha Hardee (left) and Jeanie Howard
Ricky Middlesworth/ABC

Everybody who watches The Golden Bachelor cringes when it’s time for the man of the hour, Gerry Turner, 72, to reject some women and send them away from the show — and he seems to cry more than they do. But the women who got no rose in last week’s episode, Natascha Hardee and Jeanie Howard, tell AARP that they feel just fine, thank you, and give their reasons.

spinner image natascha hardee and gerry turner place their arms on each other during the golden bachelor
John Fleenor/ABC

Natascha Hardee

Age: 60

Hometown: New York City

Occupation: Pro-aging coach and midlife speaker

Favorite thing to do on a date: Laugh

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Natascha, going home roseless from The Golden Bachelor doesn’t seem to have left you feeling like a loser. Did you gain something valuable?

Absolutely. There’s no loss in this experience. I enjoyed it and I felt like I came out as a winner from every angle.

So what did you gain?

I consider myself a life learner, and every year I do something out of my comfort zone. I learned how to date. I think I completely forgot how to date and relate, because I spent the last seven years taking care of my granddaughter. I learned so much from the other women about dating and my experience of dating Gerry. I learned a lot about myself — I realized I was way more nervous than I thought I was.

And I learned I can find love for real. I don’t think I really believed it before I went on the show, but I definitely believe it’s never too late. I’m free and single and ready to mingle.

spinner image gerry turner and natascha hardee laughing with each other while sitting on yoga mats on the golden bachelor
Craig Sjodin/ABC

There were tears on the show, but you seemed to laugh a lot.

We all laughed a lot. I became a laughter yoga leader last year. Laughter yoga is very good for your health — it reduces stress, improves your sleep and energizes you. I started a podcast, Let’s Talk Midlife, last year on my 60th birthday. I talk with experts about experiences women have transitioning into midlife, into their golden years.

And you teach midlife transitioning from personal experience — you went back to school in midlife, right?

I got my degree in occupational therapy at 50. Your age cannot stop you from going back to school or doing anything you want to do in life. Don’t let age stop you. Your age is just the number; it is not a limitation. And when you live from a space of aging and excellence, you will always achieve whatever it is you desire.

Some say this show makes older people look bad. Do you?

It actually changes people’s perspective about aging. People feel like these women are exciting, they’re interesting. This show is a great representation of aging in excellence. I love the whole time that I did it. I have no regrets. I’m just so happy.

spinner image jeanie howard holds hands with gerry turner on the golden bachelor
Craig Sjodin/ABC

Jeanie Howard

Age: 65

Hometown: Estill Springs, Tennessee

Occupation: Retired project manager

What gives her hope: “My mama found love in her 70s and I can do it too.”

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Jeanie, how did you get interested in the show?

My mama watched The Bachelor show, and I found that I couldn’t have good conversations with her if I didn’t watch it. Never did I think that I would ever be on it, but we all know what we should not say about never.

Were the women cooperative or just competitive?

We were interested in Gerry. But yet at the same time, we were gonna get along. We cooked for each other. We all were in awe of each other. I came back with 21 new friends. At the costume party, I was helping April because April had an outfit on that was very tight — and April was the only one could wear that outfit! So we were all there for each other. And then April reciprocated, like giving Nancy a hug when Nancy got very emotional about wearing the wedding dress. So that was us.

Do grownups have any advantages over young people on this show?

With age comes wisdom. I think the way I handled The Golden Bachelor would have been different if I hadn’t had experiences earlier in life. I lean on the things that I’ve learned from.

spinner image jeanie howard plays miniature gold with gerry turner on the golden bachelor
John Fleenor/ABC

Do you feel worse after doing the show or better?

There was a limited amount of time, and what that meant was maybe not as much heartbreak, and more openness to love. And looking at Gerry and saying, “There’s guys out there that you really could be interested in!” And let’s just build on that and be open to whatever may come.

I’m just happy that I did it, and I’ll be honest with you: I never thought I’d get picked. So to be part of the original golden girls [of The Bachelor franchise] — wow! To me, that’s an honor.

Did it change your view of grownup romance?

I tend to be a little independent, and I could live by myself very happily. But I think if I had somebody in my life to share the moments with, to travel and to do the things I like, it’d be much more full.

What advice would you give other contestants on The Golden Bachelor?

Be themselves. Meaning: If you’re going to settle with somebody, they need to see who you are. And that’s who they need to fall in love with.

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