Matt James met 32 women during The Bachelor premiere on Jan. 4, but one stood out above the rest — Abigail Heringer. Matt gave the 25-year-old, who was born deaf and wears cochlear implants, his first impression rose. He was attracted to Abigail because of her honesty and authenticity, and felt an immediate connection with her from the moment that they first met.
“She was so authentic and real,” Matt explained to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “Everything that I’m asking of the women in this experience, she did unprompted. She was open about being deaf, about her family members that were deaf, about her experience, about what to expect from her. It just was flowing out of her and we just vibed. It just felt real. It felt comfortable, and in a situation that was uncomfortable, to have that type of feeling with somebody just made sense. I wanted her to know that that’s how I felt about her and the best way to do that was to give her the rose.”
Abigail was admittedly nervous to open up about being deaf upon first meeting Matt, but she knew she had to address it as soon as possible. When she stepped out of the limo, she took Matt’s hands and told him, “There’s something a little bit different about me. I’m deaf. So I’m going to be reading your lips a lot tonight, but thankfully you have really beautiful lips.” Matt was totally at ease with the confession, and he assured Abigail that he would “enunciate” for her as much as possible. When she walked away, he muttered, “She is gorgeous,” under his breath.
During the cocktail party, Matt and Abigail had another chance to talk and catch up. “I wasn’t expecting to be that nervous, to be honest,” Abigail told Matt. “I feel like for the last few months all I’ve been hearing is, ‘Matt, Matt Matt!’ I was like….he’s a God or something!” Matt was definitely nervous around Abigail too, and told her that he wanted her to feel comfortable with him.
Abigail was super excited that Matt remembered the story she told him about her hearing when they first met, and he wanted to know even more during their next conversation. “You said that your sister had gone through something similar and you’re very close?” he asked. Abigail explained that her older sister is also deaf, and helped “pave the way” for her to be open about being hard of hearing herself.
“To be honest with you, once I heard your name….I, like, went blank,” Matt admitted to Abigail. She said that she felt the same way and couldn’t even “remember anything else [she] said.” Matt added, “I tried, but you were gorgeous and it was hard to focus on anything else!” The chemistry was definitely there between them, and they sealed the deal with a kiss. “I was stressing out about my time with Matt, but he’s just so easy to talk to and he took it to a whole other level,” Abigail gushed. “I love it. I’m so giddy about it.”
She had even more reason to be excited when he returned to the room with the first impression rose. “One thing I challenged the women with was being vulnerable and I felt like you were everything that I have asked of these women tonight,” Matt told Abigail. “Knowing you’re a fighter, it was only appropriate that I ask you something — will you accept this rose?”
Of course, Abigail did. “I’m on cloud nine right now,” she said in a confessional. “The fact that he sees potential in me is just….it makes me really excited. I’m super excited to hopefully keep it going and learn more about each other.”