didn’t know what she was promising when she declared her Bachelorette ending was a “first” for the franchise. Katie Thurston
After appearing on season 25 of
The Bachelor, which aired in early 2021, ABC named the Washington native their season 17 star. She subsequently started filming in Palm Springs and met 30 contestants, including bartender . She sent the California native home during week two of the competition. John Hersey
, who originally competed on season 16 of Blake Moynes The Bachelorette in 2020, joined the cast when there were 14 men remaining. The Canada native admitted that he reached out to Thurston while season was airing and felt like they would have a connection. After two of Thurston’s top four quit — Matt James’ and Greg Grippo — she gave Moynes her final rose, sending home Michael Allio . Justin Glaze
Thurston and Moynes’ proposal aired on the
August 2021 finale of The twosome told The Bachelorette. Us Weekly at the time that they weren’t in a rush to move in together as they navigated their post-show future. By October, she admitted to Us that the twosome were “winging” things as Moynes traveled to Africa for work.
“The short version is we’re figuring it out. We don’t know. This is very new to us still. I’m just focusing on myself, he’s focusing on him, and if we work doing that, great. If not —” Thurston told
Us before trailing off backstage at ’ comedy show. Whitney Cummings
Days after the performance, Thurston and Moynes announced their engagement was over. She subsequently told her Instagram followers that the twosome “owe it to each other to step away” from their relationship because it wasn’t working.
“We were together for six months [and] Blake and I are very level-headed and mature, and we communicate very well on our thoughts,” Thurston told fans on October 31, 2021. “And we just both knew if this was how our first six months was as a couple, going forward it was going to not be in our best interest for our happiness to stay together.”
Moynes, for his part, admitted things haven’t “been easy” for him as he
returned to social media post-split on November 9, 2021. Later that month, Us broke the news that Thurston was seeing Hersey. Her rep later confirmed the news via a statement: “It’s known Katie and John became close friends post-season. John has been there for her through all the major changes in her life, and they are excited to explore this newly found romantic connection.”
Scroll through for a complete timeline of her relationship with Hersey:
During night one of Thurston’s season, which filmed in March 2021, she admitted that Hersey was her “type” when he walked out of the limo. By week two, however, she sent him packing.
In May 2021, Thurston nearly ran into Hersey at a San Diego beach with friends.
“John is surfing on this exact beach — very, very randomly, a rose floats by in the water. And he’s like, ‘That’s incredibly strange.’ … Just a very strange occurrence,” the duo’s mutual friend Stephen Lovegrove later recalled on Us’ “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast in September 2021. “He surfs, he goes home, we take photos, we get ice cream, we go home. And later that afternoon, John sees from Katie’s account, all these photos go up and realizes as he was surfing with this random rose floating by, he was literally 100 feet away from the Bachelorette, who he had just filmed this season [with]. It was such a random coincidence that we didn’t find out about till a long time later.”
During that trip, Thurston was also spotted at Duke’s in La Jolla, where Hersey was a bartender. As her season aired in summer 2021, there was a fan theory that she got back together with Hersey due to the photos from the bar.
“Through all of that speculation, at some point, I reached out to John and made a joke about I hope you and Katie are doing so well,” Lovegrove told Us. “And anyway, our friendship was born out of all of that. But yes, the Duke’s trip that threw off every spoiler page by total accident happened in the midst of the now-infamous San Diego trip [that sparked the love triangle with Alana Milne, Chris Conran and Jessenia Cruz on Bachelor in Paradise], as well.”
Despite his early departure, Hersey was always team Thurston, defending her after she accused finalist Greg Grippo of gaslighting her during their messy split on an August episode.
“I watched [Monday] night’s episode and was shocked by some of the behavior I witnessed, namely the words and body language exhibited by Greg,” Hersey wrote via Instagram Stories at the time. “Watching these actions get defended (and therefore normalized) strikes me as extremely unhealthy and a step in the wrong direction.”
He added: “An individual can be a good friend to some while simultaneously being harmful to others in another relationship. Friendship cannot be an excuse to blindly defend someone’s behavior.”
After spending the month apart amid his work trip to Africa, Thurston and Moynes reunited and announced their split on October 25, 2021.
“It is with mutual love and respect that we have decided to go our separate ways. We are so grateful for the moments we shared together and the entire journey that has unfolded this year, but we ultimately have concluded that we are not compatible as life partners, and it is the most caring choice for both of us to move forward independently,” the twosome wrote via Instagram at the time. “We ask for kindness and privacy as we both navigate this transition. Both of us will forever want the best for one another and ask you to please support us in our decision.”
Social media began to speculate about Thurston’s relationship with Hersey after she shared a picture of the flowers she received following her split from Moynes with a note that read: “These are not romantic flowers. These are happy flowers. Because I do not want you to be… I want you to be happy.”
Bachelor Nation was convinced that the note was from Hersey. Three days later, Thurston posted a throwback video on November 7 of “the first time I saw John since filming.” She then hinted that fans weren’t on the right track by sharing Polaroid photos with him, writing, “Y’all getting wild in my DMs.”
Courtesy Katie Thurston/Instagram
Thurston began her “12 Days of Messy” challenge in mid-November, dedicating Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to her former fiancé. On the final day of assigning songs for her exes, she dropped a video with Hersey set to “Begin Again.” Us broke the news on November 23 that Thurston is dating Hersey.
Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock
The lovebirds packed on the PDA in a TikTok video just hours after Us confirmed their romance on November 23. Hersey gave fans a look inside their budding relationship, including him giving Thurston a piggyback ride and a kiss as Mina Okabe’s “Every Second” played in the background. “I really like it here,” he captioned the video, to which Thurston replied, “Me too.”
Courtesy John Hersey/TikTok(2)
The duo made their red carpet debut as a couple at Stephen Lovegrove’s First Noelle Ball on December 2. The pair first documented getting ready together via Instagram Stories. At the ball, they shared a kiss while posing for the cameras.
Courtesy of Katie Thurston/Instagram
The pair hit the red carpet for the second time at the 2021 People’s Choice Awards. After the ceremony, Thurston revealed that Hersey wore the same suit he was wearing during the episode of The Bachelorette where she sent him home. “I mean, we had to reverse that bad juju,” she joked in an Instagram Story. “So, we’re good now.”
On the red carpet, Thurston gushed about how she’s “the happiest” she’s been in a long time. “It’s very easy to just enjoy and live my life — and that’s kind of what we’re doing. We’re not holding back for anybody,” she exclusively told Us at the event. “We’re in the honeymoon phase right now. He was my best friend before, so I think that’s what makes it, honestly, the best.”