Bachelor Joey Graziadei on racist trolls targeting Rachel: 'It's unacceptable'

The Bachelor also shares his thoughts on other "The Women Tell All" topics, including the drama between Maria, Sydney, and Lea.

Joey Graziadei, star of The Bachelor season 28, might just be the kindest, most genuine Bachelor this franchise has ever seen. Even after watching his season back and seeing all the drama he wasn't privy to, the 28-year-old tennis pro still sees the best in the women who were competing for his heart. "I will never say anything negative about any of the women and how they handle themselves, because they have their own emotions," he tells EW in a post-Women Tell All interview. "It's a very difficult situation that they're put in."

He also has zero tolerance for viewers who feel like it's okay to harass Bachelor contestants — like those who inundated Rachel's social media with hateful, racist posts. "I think people need to look in the mirror and realize that no one deserves comments like that, ever," he says. EW spoke to sweet angel baby Joey about facing his exes at the Tell All, what he thought of the Maria-Sydney-Lea drama, his patented Tear Wipe™ maneuver, and more.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congrats on surviving the Women Tell All! Going in, who were you the most nervous to see again and who were you the most eager to see again?

JOEY GRAZIADEI: I wouldn't say there was anyone I was necessarily eager to see. I think nerves are natural going into that environment because there are people that you had legitimate relationships with, and it's been a while since you've gotten a chance to connect again. The order is probably as everyone would expect — it’s about the seriousness of the relationship. So, it would be Rachel was someone I was nervous to talk to, to see how she was feeling; Maria being the same; Jen, Kelsey T. — all those people that I had more time with, I would be the most nervous to chat with.

When you sat down with Rachel for the first time since breaking up in Mexico, what was your main priority for that conversation?

When you leave something like that in a rose ceremony where emotions are raw, I think she'd be the first to admit that she wasn't probably able to express how she was feeling. I was definitely trying to understand where she was at, and how she's been feeling on things, because she didn't say much in that moment. She was still feeling a lot of emotions. I wanted to make sure I clearly explained again what the reasons were [for the breakup]. What I loved was we got a chance to [discuss] how we felt that was the right and kind of perfect end to our relationship. It was great to know that she felt the same way I did and was understanding, and there was no bad blood. I felt very lucky for that to be the case, and I think you can see there's a lot of mutual respect between us.

<p>ABC</p> Rachel and Joey on 'The Bachelor: The Women Tell All'


Rachel and Joey on 'The Bachelor: The Women Tell All'

I feel like you’re kind of a king with these breakups. Have you maintained friendships with exes in the past?

There are relationships that are tougher to stay friendly, but I don't think I have anyone that has anything but understanding from my side. I try as much as I can to explain and talk through, but I've also learned a lot. I'm in no ways perfect. Breakups are tough, so I try as much as I can to explain what I'm feeling, and to be there to talk through that anything they want to after. Anyone that has had relationships with me in the past knows that I'm willing to always have that open communication as much as possible, because breakups are tough on all sides, so that you should be able to talk through it.

The Women Tell All really focuses on the drama of the season, a lot of which you probably weren't privy to until you watched it back. When you watched it back, what conflict surprised you the most?

I think anyone in my position never knew the level of [drama]. In the beginning, I didn't even know the two sisters were having a little bit of a joking back and forth. All that stuff, from the things that went on with Sydney and Maria, the things that went on with Lea and Madina, and obviously Lea, Maria, Sydney. Everyone saw that if someone brought something to me, I was always open to talk about it, but my stance has always been the same. I was focusing on the individual connections. I was trying my best to hear these women out because their emotions are valid, but I also wanted to make sure that we were focusing on what we could build, and that we didn't let these outside factors overtake what the situation can be.

I always go back to what I said to Maria on the two-on-one, which was I'm not expecting all the women to get along. I just want to have there be an environment that we can do what's most important, which is to get to know each other and see what [relationship] makes the most sense for me and for them as well, because it is a two-way street. I was always trying to keep the environment understanding and calm. But there are a lot of women that come into this situation where that's tough for that to be the case, so I get it.

Were you surprised that they actually had the production team go back and watch hours of footage to see if Maria actually said “shut the f--- up” to Lea?

I still don't know what happened. I just know that there was obviously a misunderstanding, and as you saw on that Malta date, I realize it's not about coming down to finding the truth. I never will. In that case, it's more about understanding what each of these women have to bring into our relationship and where I felt there was the strongest connection. So, to this day, I still don't know a lot about that. I'm just focusing on what I could focus on at those times. No one wants to go on that goose chase.

<p>ABC</p> Joey gives Lea a rose on 'The Bachelor'


Joey gives Lea a rose on 'The Bachelor'

Lea was the focus of a lot of discussion at the Women Tell All. When you watched the season back, what did you think of the difference between how she was with you versus how she was with the women?

I think people need to take a step outside of their own perspective and realize how difficult it is to be on this TV show. I mean, you get challenged left and right. There are different personalities and they’re obviously trying to create a connection with me. I will never say anything negative about any of the women and how they handle themselves, because they have their own emotions and it's a very difficult situation that they're put in. Lea was always very sweet to me. We had a great connection. That's why she lasted as long as she did, but other connections were stronger, and she understands that. I feel for all those women that went through those different dramas, but I think they all are trying to get past it and move on with their own lives. Hopefully people can continue to be kind, because that’s what’s most important.

What did you learn about yourself watching the show back?

I realized that I can be repetitive and say the same thing, like “I love that” and “how we doing?” That was amazing to watch back. I need new words, so I will work on that. On a more serious side, I realized through this experience how I can be closed off, and it takes time for me to let someone in because I have my own insecurities from past relationships. I think that's human and understandable, but I'm a work in progress and this is a great way to look back and see where I can be better.

Another big discussion on the Women Tell All was about some of the hate and toxicity women are receiving online. Specifically, Rachel talked about being the target of awful, racist comments as well. What do you want to say to people who posted those hateful comments about her?

Obviously, I would first say it's unacceptable. No one deserves that. But I would also reiterate what we said on the Tell All. You’re allowed to be fans of people. You're allowed to have someone that you support. You're allowed to be in someone else's camp. That is how you should be. There are very amazing women on here that I would hope would get love and support consistently, but that doesn't come from tearing other women down. Rachel was nothing but kind. She had so many moments where her personality shined through, and she deserves all the love that she gets. But to have unwarranted hate, I don't understand it. I think it's just a reminder to be kind, because people don't understand what it's like to be in this position. It’s totally unwarranted, and Rachel deserves nothing but love in my eyes. I feel for her, and I was really happy that she got that moment during Tell All to just express how difficult it's been. I think people need to look in the mirror and realize that no one deserves comments like that, ever.

On a happier note, you’ve received a lot of praise online for being a great active listener, for being empathetic, for being emotionally mature, for being super handsome, and so on. What is the nicest thing you've read about yourself online?

I would say the active listening has been the most rewarding to hear, because I'll be the first to admit that that's taken a lot of time for me to be better. At a lot of times in my life, I was the first person to speak up. I still catch myself with that, where I want to add my thoughts. I'm like, “Oh, I want to tell you this about me.” And it took a while for people I love to tell me like, “Dude, you don't always have to talk. Take a second and listen to what people are saying.” This has been something I've been working on a lot over the last couple of years, especially in relationships. So, for people to see that side of me and praise it, I love it. Again, I know I have a lot to still work on with that, but that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time working on over the last couple of years, and for it to be noticed is something I’ll cherish all day.

<p>ABC</p> Joey wipes Kelsey T.'s tear on 'The Bachelor'


Joey wipes Kelsey T.'s tear on 'The Bachelor'

When did you first start developing your patented Thumb Tear Wipe™ technique?

I have no answer on that one. I'll be completely honest that I didn't even notice until this show ran back how much I did that. That is not something that I’ve ever thought about. I think that I am just very aware from having sisters that when you have a tear, it can mess with your makeup, so I tried to help. I think that’s probably where my brain was at. And jokingly, some of the women told me, “Stop doing that! You're going to mess with my makeup.” I think it is a funny twist and I did not expect people to pay attention to it. But after watching [the show back], I'm like, “Wow, I did do that a lot.”

Was there moment that you were sure was going to make the bloopers but didn't?

I think one thing I can say is that wasn't the only burping scene, where I burped for that long and put the thumbs up. They had hours of that footage. If you give me enough champagne or beer, I’m burping. Especially when I’m with the crew and we're comfortable. I'm sure they could have put the longest montage with me burping. I was surprised there wasn't more.

Which blooper made you cringe the hardest?

Oh, "Min-e-an-apolis." I'm afraid to even say the word right now. I hated that. It’s so bad. People get that I am a little dumdum from time to time. It's okay, I get it. But I figured out how to say it at the end, and it is a word that I will avoid for the rest of my life.

<p>ABC</p> Maria cradles her roes on 'The Bachelor'


Maria cradles her roes on 'The Bachelor'

Finally, of all the women who were present at the Women Tell All, who do you think would make the best Bachelorette and why?

I will give you two, because there are two that I think gave a lot and would be great in the role. Of the women that were present, definitely Rachel and Maria. Those two, they have a lot to offer. They opened up a lot to me. What I remember from my experience [on The Bachelorette] is that I felt like I had a story that was unfinished. I gave a lot to my time with Charity, and when the opportunity came around, it was exciting to know that I would get a chance to do it again and write my own story. Both of those women deserve that.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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