Michael from 'Bachelor in Paradise' reveals why he gave up on finding love with an ex-contestant

Who knew a Fijian holiday would be so stressful?

By Jessica Chandra
Michael Turnbull on Bachelor in Paradise Australia

Michael Turnbull had an interesting journey on Bachelor in Paradise. The OG contestant, who was the runner-up on the very first Australian season of The Bachelorette with Sam Frost, seemed to 'connect' with a few of the ladies on the island, but nothing developed into anything more than friendship.

Then, during one of the season's most ~controversial~ moments, Michael went rogue at a rose ceremony and gave his rose to Lisa Hyde, even though she'd been happily coupled up with Luke McLeod.

On last night's episode, Michael tried his luck with Lisa one last time, but when she told him that she wanted to work things out with Luke he decided it was time for him to leave the island. Shortly after, Lisa also decided to leave, and while it was framed to Luke as this whole 'let's try our relationship in the real world' kind of thing, Lisa revealed to Cosmo that she actually left for business reasons.

It's also come to light that even though Lisa and Luke left the island prematurely, things didn't work out in the real world because Luke cheated — something he said he was sorry for in our chat.

Basically, it was a bombshell of an episode where three people chose to leave. And then Thomas, the long-haired Canadian intruder, was also rejected after being there for like two seconds. Yikes.

Michael chatted to Cosmo about why he gave up on his ~journey~ on Bachelor in Paradise and whether he'd try to pursue a relationship with Lisa now that she's single.

What has it been like revisiting this whole process, since it's been a few years since you did The Bachelorette?

I think it's been about three years. It definitely doesn't get any easier, but I think this experience in Paradise was a really positive one for me. I had a great time, and even though I didn't find anyone special to leave with I think I formed some really special relationships. Spending time with Lisa, as you know, we get along really well, so it was a really good experience for me.

How long did you think about leaving Paradise for?

It happened in the spur of the moment. In probably 15 minutes I was just having a quiet conversation to myself as to what I was going to do, and then I made the decision fairly quickly. It was a really tough decision to make, but looking back I think it was definitely the right move, and I'm glad I left when I did.

Did you get to say goodbye to everyone?

Yeah. They didn't show it with the editing, but I got the whole group together, I gave a bit of a goodbye speech, and we all hugged it out and cried a little bit. I went back to my little bungalow and packed my bag, and literally left right away, so I didn't get a chance to stick around. But I did get to say goodbye to everyone, which was nice.

Why did you give up?

I think I gave up because I was just exhausted with the whole thing. I was emotionally drained, and the situation with Lisa and Luke was the nail in the coffin for me. I was like, I'm not going to start breaking up couples. I have to respect existing relationships. And I'm not going to wait around for someone who may or may not walk in tomorrow. And even if they did come, I don't think I'll be in the right mindset to be myself, so I said, "I'm tired, I think it's time for me to leave."

It's ironic that being at this amazing resort on a tropical island is the most emotionally exhausting thing you've done.

I know, you'd think all we do is sit around and drink cocktails by the pool — which we did, don't get me wrong. But always talking about feelings and being mindful of other people's relationships, it was exhausting. Talking about feelings and emotions can be hard, especially for a guy.

Talk me through your love journey on BIP, starting with Tara…

Yeah. So I was obviously the first guy in Paradise, which I thought was quite cool. And then I walked up and met Tara. Me and Tara spent three or four really good days together. They didn't show that on the show. We got quite close, then we had a bit of a disagreement over a couple of things and just decided to be friends. We both mutually walked away from that relationship, if that's what you want to call it.

Then I moved over and I started spending time with… where did I go from there? I can't remember, it was so long ago.

You had the date with Keira, and then Ali.

Keira, yeah she was my date. By the time I've finished my thing with Tara, Lisa and Luke had already spent lots of time together, so I didn't feel comfortable going in at that stage and showing that I was interested in Lisa. I floated over to Ali and we spent some time together, and once again it was quite mutual that there was nothing there with Ali. And then I sort of hung out and was the group counsel for everyone else. So that was cool [laughs]. I listened to everyone else's problems. Then I decided, 'Let's have one last go with Lisa,' and then that was it for me.

As someone who was group counsel, what can you share about issues other people were having?

I think everyone was doing it really tough. Feelings and circumstances would change every hour because there were people coming and going, and there were so many moving parts — people were very uncertain where they stood with other people. Like Keira and Jarrod were off and on so many times. It was really hard for everyone to feel secure in their relationships. That was the biggest thing for me. It was the old 'what will be, will be' at the end of the day. But I think the couples that are still going, they're a good match, and I look forward to seeing them kick on in the real world.

Who seemed really strong at the time you left the island?

I think Jarrod and Keira are pretty strong. Sam and Tara, I think they're good for right now — whether that's going to last moving forward in the real world remains to be seen. Obviously Paradise is very different to waking up, going to work, paying bills, and all the everyday stresses that come with real life. I think the real test is when everyone gets out of Paradise to see how it plays out.

Interesting. There are reports going around that Tara and Sam are the ones getting engaged.

I did hear this.

Is that all you can say about it?

I think to get engaged in Paradise, whoever it is, it's a massive call. Whoever it was, good luck to them, they're giving it go. Hopefully it works out for them.

What was it like seeing girls you were interested in move into other relationships right before your eyes, and then have to hang out with them?

That's so hard — in the outside world that doesn't happen, like you can block yourself off from that. But I think in Paradise you have to accept it, because we're still going to be living together and the resort, so I need to make peace with myself and still interact with them. You sort of move on. You have a chat, you go, "I get it, I respect it, so let's go grab a drink." You've really gotta bury the hatchet quickly, and not hold on to any ill feelings.

I know you and Lisa are still good friends. Would you be interested in pursuing things romantically with her now or do you think it's just a friendship?

I think for me it's more of a friendship thing. I think with the timing, it's come and gone, and that's okay too. Lisa is a very good friend of mine and she'll always be a good friend, but I don't see any romantic capacity moving forward.

Did you and Lisa both bond over being runners-up?

We kind of did at the start. We bonded over many things — we're both business owners, so we had a chat about that, and coming second was obviously a thing as well. We had so much in common. The timing was off for us but these things happen, and you've just got to deal with it, I guess.

What's your relationship with Luke like? I noticed you don't follow each other on Instagram.

For me, I've got no issues with Luke. Obviously he's made some poor decisions moving forward with Lisa and I guess he's paying the price with that. But at the end of the day if I saw him on the street I wouldn't cross the road to avoid him, I'd say, "G'day," and have a beer with him. I don't think we're best mates but we're not enemies.

Do you have any regrets about the way you went about anything?

I don't think so. I think everything I did was true to myself and what I wanted to do. The fact that I didn't find anyone, that's something that you can't control and force. Walking out was the right thing to do at the right time, and I don't regret a thing and I had an absolute blast. So it's all positive for me.

Would you go on a reality show for love again?

Well I'm the Bachelor next year, I don't know if you read that one… [Laughs] I kind of like them. I know some people might think it's crazy, but I kind of like it, because you really do get time to focus on your feelings and emotions, whereas in the real world I'm so busy with work and travel. I think Bachelor in Paradise and The Bachelor is a really good format to actually focus on feelings, and taking time out of your life and getting rid of the clutter to see if there is a connection. That's what I really like about these shows. I wouldn't say I've got lots left in me, but I never rule anything out.

Doesn't that go against what you said about Sam and Tara, in that you're inside this little love bubble on a reality show? Do you think that can translate into the real world?

I don't think necessarily that it would translate into the real world. I just think it's a good start. Like, "Hey, we do have some things in common, it looks like we are getting along, so let's go and test it for real." In the real world so many people are fake from the start — you meet people drunk at the bar. Like is that really them, or is that the alcohol? So while it doesn't guarantee success, it's a good place to start.

I think timing and luck are also big things. Ideally you meet people through friends, but sometimes that doesn't happen.

Have you dated since leaving the show?

I've taken some time for myself, just to let the dust settle and get through the show. I'm definitely open and ready for whatever girl or opportunity will present itself. It's not like I'm heartbroken — if she came along tomorrow I'd be ready to give it a go.

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