How Sydney Lotuaco's 'Bachelor' Journey Set the Stage for Her 'Thriving' Love Life with Boyfriend Nick Wehby
“My world opened up more. I felt better prepared, stronger, and braver with my choices,” Sydney Lotuaco says, describing the positive reverberations that came from her time on “The Bachelor” Season 23 and “Bachelor in Paradise” Season 6.
It’s been nearly two years since the dancer, model, and fitness instructor left the beaches of “Paradise” empty-handed. Just months prior, Sydney gave it her best effort to ignite a spark with Bachelor Colton Underwood — but left the show of her own accord once she realized they weren’t compatible.
Though she didn’t find love within the franchise, the brunette beauty says she is grateful for the personal growth it provided.
“Because I spent so much time talking about who I am as a person, what I want, and what I’ve accomplished in my ITMs, the show put things into perspective for me, like, ‘Oh, I am worthy. I can totally find something,’” Sydney tells BachelorNation.com in an exclusive interview, noting that she never had a serious relationship before she was cast on “The Bachelor.” “I learned that the dating experience doesn’t have to be the same for everyone.”
The story behind her romance with current boyfriend Nick Wehby is anything but typical.
The couple found each other through Instagram in 2020 after the handsome Ohio native slid into Sydney’s DMs. They formed a strong connection during the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, FaceTiming for hours on end. After countless conversations, Sydney — who was temporarily living at her childhood home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, following stints in New York City and Los Angeles — booked a ticket to meet Nick in Cincinnati. It wasn’t long before she took a “leap of faith” by permanently moving into his home in the Buckeye State.
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“Being on ‘The Bachelor’ taught me that I can meet someone and fall for them really quickly and take big chances in relationships,” she says. “I don’t think I would have done that with Nick without having that period of time where I was so focused on relationships and learning a lot about myself. Seriously, thanks to the show, we are thriving.”
Below, Sydney — who recently launched a new podcast called “Something to Share” — chats more with BachelorNation.com about her reality TV journey, its impact on her life, and partnership with Nick.
A lot has happened since you left the beaches of “Paradise” in the summer of 2019. A pandemic, a boyfriend, a move to Ohio. What’s life like for you these days?
Life is very different than it was from when I was on the show. When I was on the show, I was living in New York City, dancing for the Knicks basketball team, and then I had to quit because of the show. But it was the show that made me realize I needed a big life change. I needed to switch it up. I had been living in New York for 10 years, so it was time for something new. Once I got off the show, I decided to make the move to L.A. to continue pursuing dance and new opportunities out there. I moved to L.A. around the end of 2019, right before the pandemic hit and, after I moved, I ended up booking a job dancing for “Bachelor Live on Stage.” I kept the “Bachelor” dream running until the tour was canceled due to COVID-19. And since all of that went down, I’m now living in Ohio because I met my boyfriend who lives here. The pandemic makes you do crazy things, I guess, so that’s where I am currently.
Aside from “Bachelor Live on Stage” being canceled, how else did the pandemic impact your career?
I was constantly focusing on my career and pushing myself in other directions. But I think COVID taught me that it’s OK to go a little slower at life, just let things happen, and go with the flow a little bit more — instead of trying to constantly make things happen, chasing jobs. Once I relaxed a little bit and went with what I was being dealt, which was a pandemic, having to go back to my childhood home and do nothing, so much more opened up. It gave me a new lease on how I can approach how I do work, life, romance, and all that stuff.
During this unprecedented time, you’ve launched a podcast called “Something to Share.” Tell us about that project.
I’ve always been obsessed with podcasts. Whenever I’m feeling down or a little lost, I love to learn and get new ideas and be inspired by people. I’ve always turned to podcasts and that has led me in a lot of different directions because I’ll get obsessed with certain people or certain episodes and go down a rabbit hole of listening to more. Podcasts are something that you can turn to in times of need or when you need a little break from your day. Essentially, I wanted to do what podcasts did for me for other people — have those long conversations, share that knowledge, and pick the brains of influential people. You really get to know someone and how they got to where they are. So, it’s inspiring conversations with inspiring people: influencers, entrepreneurs, reality stars, and, of course, people from Bachelor Nation.
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Speaking of Bachelor Nation, you didn’t find love within the franchise, but it ultimately led you to Nick. How do you think your reality TV experience set the stage for a successful relationship?
He had watched me on “The Bachelor.” He was a fan of me from the show and then he reached out because of it. I felt like I was a little bit more open to love and finding it in really crazy ways because of the show. At the time he had reached out, I had an apartment in L.A., I was at home in a pandemic, we couldn’t travel, and he was living in Ohio. If I had a close-minded mindset — like I probably would have had in 2018 before the show — I don’t think I would be where I am now, where we’re dating and I’m living in a completely different state and just going with what happens.
What was the biggest challenge of navigating a long-distance relationship with Nick during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Because traveling really wasn’t happening, we had talked from March 2020 until three months after that. It sounds like a challenge, but it was actually a blessing in disguise. We built a very strong relationship just over FaceTime. You get bored in quarantine and you take risks because you just need to feel like a normal person. After DM’ing for a bit, we FaceTimed, and then we ended up talking for four hours that first night. From there, we FaceTimed every single night for months. It’s funny because I was living at my parents’ home, so I would sneak up to my room and talk to this boy that I hadn’t met in person. And I didn’t tell my parents. I felt like I was in high school. But we were able to grow something really strong because all the physical stuff wasn’t a part of it. We didn’t have to go to dinners, we didn’t have to hug or worry about trying intimate stuff later. I got to know him as a human. So, I built something really solid with him before I even met him in person.
What was it like when you eventually met Nick in person?
It was amazing. After three months, things were opening up a little bit more and we just got to the point where we were like, “We just really need to meet each other.” At that time, we knew each other really well. We were just like, “Let’s just figure this out.” Then I had to tell my parents that I had been talking to a boy and that I needed to fly to a completely different state to meet this random dude. It took a little convincing at the time but now my family loves him. It was definitely a big leap of faith, because what if I met him and hated him? That would have been really difficult to manage in person. And definitely pretty awkward! Luckily, that didn’t happen for us. But I think it’s because we had that strong foundation before ever meeting.
Do you remember the moment you decided to move to Ohio to be with Nick?
I came to Ohio in August to visit for a month before I was going to go back to L.A. to my apartment — that I had been paying for the entire time I was staying at home in Virginia — and I just had a moment where I was like, “Why am I actually going back? What is there that I need to go back for?” I’m a dancer. I’m a fitness instructor. I do entertainment and modeling stuff. All that stuff wasn’t back to normal yet, so I was like, “Why am I going to add more pressure onto something when I don’t necessarily need to?” And what I had with Nick was working, so I thought to myself, “Why don’t I just lean into what is working and what is falling into place for me?” So, I made the move. We flew out to L.A. together to move me out of my apartment, packed up all my stuff, packed my car with what I could fit, and then shipped my car to Ohio. So, now I’m living in Ohio, which is kind of crazy.
After moving to Ohio, you wasted no time sprucing up his house — and it looks gorgeous, thanks to your eye for decorating. What was it like transforming his bachelor pad into a really chic space?
When I moved here, I brought all my stuff from L.A. and I was like, “OK, your football jersey that’s in the bedroom cannot be in the bedroom anymore. I live here now.” So, one step at a time, I had to ease him out of his bachelor ways and that can be hard to do when you’re coming into someone’s space. But he was a good sport about it. And once he started seeing how much better things looked when you just made a few changes, he got really into it. Each weekend, he’d be like, ‘OK, let’s do this this weekend.” And I was like, “All right, let’s go pick out the stuff to go change that bathroom around.” He’s super hardworking and can get really diligent about stuff. So, once he saw the changes that were being made, he was like, “Actually, this is a good idea. Let’s keep doing this.” I’ve now run out of things to redecorate, so I’m kind of getting antsy about it.
After living in New York City and Los Angeles, how have you acclimated to life in Cincinnati?
I think it’s the change that I needed. I was constantly going on this rat race that I thought that I had to be a part of, being in New York and then being in L.A. I realized that I didn’t need to be so constantly go-go-go and that there are other ways to do things and still be efficient. My mindset has changed a little bit. It’s been nice to have space and no traffic. Sometimes slowing down can be fun. It doesn’t mean that I’m not still looking for opportunities and pushing myself and learning new things and whatnot. It’s just a different vibe and picture of what that is.
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Do you see yourself in Cincinnati forever? Would you ever move back to New York City or Los Angeles with Nick?
We definitely want to get to a place where we have a space that we picked out together. I don’t think that I would necessarily be in Ohio forever. I know he definitely wouldn’t move to L.A. or New York just because he goes at a slower pace. We’re both open to eventually moving. Maybe we’ll move to my hometown later on, maybe we’ll stay here, or maybe even somewhere else. But, at the moment, we are fine where we are.
Nick is your first serious relationship after “The Bachelor” and “Paradise” — and, also, ever. What makes you two such a great match?
There are a lot of factors. We were both in a place in our lives where we wanted something serious. This year-and-a-half of being on “The Bachelor,” where I was just focused on relationships and seeing examples of love all around me, was actually kind very helpful. I saw that love does exist, love is real, and it’s possible for me. So then when Nick came along and fit what I knew I was always looking for, the person that I was always waiting to walk down the stairs when I was on “Paradise” was him. When love fell into my life, I could recognize it. It was just easy for both of us. We met in a very unrealistic way, but we leaned into it and made it work. Seeing the effort from both of our sides and the places we were at in our lives and the work that we had done individually made it make sense for both of us.
What do you love most about Nick?
In ITMs, I would always rattle off my ideal guy and what I was looking for in a relationship. My main priorities were that I wanted to have a life where I was laughing a lot and where I just had a lot of fun with my partner. I absolutely have that with Nick. During our early conversations, we’d be cracking up for hours. I wanted someone who had a good sense of humor, who is hardworking, who is family oriented. I’m super close with his family now. And I wanted someone who is a supportive person and all around a good guy, which he is. That comes from how he was raised and the things that he’s been through in his life.
I’m sure Nick’s family has shared so many stories with you. Any that you find particularly impressive?
In college, he broke his neck and was told that he would never walk again. Hearing that story and then hearing how he recovered and how his family came together and rallied around him just showed me a lot of who he was before I even knew him — and just how good of a person and how strong he is. I was really attracted to that. He’s been through stuff and he doesn’t really show it in his life today. He’s just a great guy — and he’s easy on the eyes, so that helps. All of those elements made it very clear that he was it for me.
Because your relationship with Nick moved quickly due to unique circumstances, I’m curious to know if marriage is already a discussion between you two.
Yeah, it is. Because we had gotten so comfortable talking over the phone, we’re really good at communicating and being open with each other. And because of that, we have an open floor with each other. We’ve talked about getting married to each other and next steps. I mean, I’m 29 now, so I’m starting to think about that. And plus, it’s hard not to think about it when we hang out with his brother and sister-in-law, who have the cutest child on the planet. I’m constantly seeing an incredible example of what that kind of life could look like with Nick, so it doesn’t look bad from my perspective. I wouldn’t have made all these steps and uprooted my life in so many ways if I didn’t think that was a possibility. If all goes according to plan, we will be eventually married.
Is Nick still a fan of “The Bachelor” even after receiving your final rose?
Yeah, we still watch the show! We’re both still fans. We still keep up, and I love to hear his comments on it because they’re always pretty funny. It’s always fun watching with a guy because it’s a completely different perspective. So hilarious.
Your time on Colton’s season of “The Bachelor” was particularly memorable because you self-eliminated while filming in Vietnam. Was that an empowering moment for you?
Relationships are not meant to be one-sided. I knew what I was looking for in a relationship. I was trying to see if I could build something with him, but it just wasn’t working. I tried to push one last time to see if I could get there with him. And it was just very clear that he didn’t like me — and that’s OK! We just didn’t have that strong of a relationship. But then why would I stay around for someone who didn’t share those feelings for me? I knew my worth in that moment. And it was just a clear answer. It is an empowering moment because you’re walking away from something that doesn’t serve you. It’s on a show, but it also can apply to other aspects of your life. Other people are going to watch that and hopefully be like, “Oh, I don’t have to stay in this relationship that I’m not happy in. I can leave.” A self-elimination on a dating show is a nice way to sum up that sentiment, that feeling, to push you to make whatever powerful move you need to make in your life.
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Do you have any regrets from your time on “The Bachelor” or “Paradise”?
One thing I may regret, because I was coming from dancing for the Knicks and representing this huge company, I was always cognizant of how I was representing myself on the show. I was always a little careful with my words. Maybe I would have been less careful. But I can’t even really say that would have necessarily made much of a difference for me. I think the reason why I wasn’t a main character a lot of the times was just because my relationship with the Bachelor wasn’t strong and then I didn’t have a strong relationship in “Paradise.” So, I don’t necessarily have regrets. But, say, if Nick was on the show and I had met him there, it would have been a completely different story.
When you appeared on “The Bachelor,” you revealed that you had never been in a serious relationship or had a boyfriend — and you were 27 at the time. For those who have hit a certain age and are concerned they may never find The One, what advice would you give?
It’s something that people seem to be ashamed of or just don’t want to talk about. But I don’t think anything is shameful about waiting. I never wanted to force something or just be with someone simply because I was lonely. I would have rather been on my own and figuring out myself instead of settling for the sake of being in a relationship. Was it sometimes hard? Yes, you obviously will get lonely. But I think the more that you use that time when you are single to really figure yourself out, take chances on yourself, and just lean into what you enjoy in life, the better you’re going to be for when that relationship comes — which means it will be a better relationship and you’ll attract a better person. Because I did that, I was ready to lean into that love and just accept it when Nick came into my life. When I met Nick, if I was like, “Oh, I’m not good enough because I’ve never had a boyfriend,” or, “Oh, I can’t move in with him right away because I’ve never dated someone,” it wouldn’t have blossomed the way it has for us. Anything can work as long as you just go with the flow a little bit. Also, when I started dating him, I was just like, “Hey, I don’t really know what I’m doing. Could you just help me out? Like, if there are certain things that happen in relationships that I should know about, let me know.” But there was nothing that I didn’t already know. You have relationships with your friends, you have relationships with people. There’s just now a romantic level to it.
What advice would you give future contestants?
Be yourself and enjoy the time that you’re there, whether that’s the entire time or one day. Just enjoy it, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not a lot of people get that chance, and it is a really cool experience. And take time to learn about yourself, because it’s a really good time to do that. Take it from a girl who knows.