Cole Barnett is finally opening up about his time on Season Three of “Love Is Blind,” including the “Cuties scene.”
On the show, the Houstonian got engaged to flight attendant Zanab Jaffrey after they fell in love in the pods. But following their pod-set meet-cute, trouble quickly descended in paradise.
At the altar, Jaffrey broke up with Barnett with a passionate speech, alleging that he had “disrespected,” “insulted,” and “critiqued her.” She continued, “For what it’s worth, you have single handedly shattered my self-confidence.”
During the show, Barnett said that fellow cast member Colleen Reed — with whom he also had a connection — was more “his type” than Jaffrey. The relationship continued to struggle, with Barnett asking if she was “bipolar” after a fight over making chicken.
At the reunion, Barnett and Jaffrey rehashed their disagreements and dramatic falling out at their wedding. Other cast members, like Raven Ross and Alexa Alfia, chimed in and supported Jaffrey by mentioning an intense moment between the couple that involved Cuties, a brand of mandarin oranges.
During the final minutes of the reunion, Netflix included unedited footage of the interaction. The conversation between Jaffrey and Barnett, which was about her eating fruit before dinner, has divided social media. Now, Barnett is speaking out about how he came across in the now-notorious “Cuties scene.”
Barnett appeared on the Dec. 2 episode of the “Lauren Interviews” podcast with host Lauren Conlin and said he was “thankful” Netflix released the footage.
“I’m just so thankful that they played the ‘Cuties scene’ because it’s like, 'I don’t know why you’d say that I was body shaming you as well,'” he said, referring to Jaffrey’s comments at the reunion. According to the flight attendant, the “Cuties scene” was one of many instances where Barnett dinged her self-esteem by focusing on her eating habits.
On Conlin’s podcast, Barnett maintained the same position he argued at the reunion: That he was not body shaming Jaffrey and only wanted to remind her that they were eating a big dinner later.
He said, “I was like, ‘Hey, remember to save your appetito because we got to make dinner.’ I was trying to keep things light and the reason that I’m using the word ‘appetito’ instead of appetite and speaking like a normal human is because I knew how sensitive things were with Zay on everything.”
The 27-year-old realtor continued, “I was walking on eggshells because I knew there’s just trip wires everywhere. The moment I say one thing that hits her wrong, I am now the worst. So it’s like, I was just trying to figure out how to even speak without saying something wrong.”
Another point of contention that Jaffrey brought up during the reunion was the bachelor party. Jaffrey said that Barnett shared he was interested in getting another woman’s number after the party ended.
Later in the podcast, Conlin brought up the bachelor party allegations and called them “confusing.”
Barnett reiterated that the situation was not how Jaffrey described it. He said he went home after the party and that he likely has actual Uber receipts to prove he is telling the truth.
“I didn’t go,” he said. “I don’t know if the other guys went out. I don’t think they did. I’m pretty sure I asked them at the reunion and I was like, where did we go? And even Brennon (Lemieux) said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Barnett also addressed the former couple’s breakup at the altar.
“She played me 100 percent,” he shared. “Because she told me that there was a chance that we were getting married. She had said she was 100 or 1,000 percent ready to marry me at that last date.”
Jaffrey told TODAY.com in an earlier interview she left the wedding feeling “very broken and very shattered."
According to Barnett, viewers did not get to see a private conversation he had with Jaffrey off camera where he told her he was not ready to say “I do.” He said that they discussed staying together after the wedding to restart their relationship at a “slower pace,” free from the “pressure” of becoming husband and wife.
“She verbatim told me, 'I don’t want any drama at the wedding,'” he said. “And then she did what she did at the wedding. So it’s like yeah, I got totally played and it was scripted. And it’s just a lie.”
He added that he does not understand why Jaffrey claimed at the reunion that she did not know she was going to reject him at the altar before their wedding day.
“It’s like, 'Yo, if that is true, then how in the hell do you say what you said about me?'” he asked. “That would make you all sorts of messed up if you felt that way about someone and you were trying to decide if you wanted to marry them that day. It’s like, wait a second. Something’s not adding up here, right?”
Conlin asked if he had communicated with his former fiancée since their heated exchanges at the reunion.
Barnett said he sent Jaffrey a message asking how she was and that Jaffrey “liked it” as a response.
He explained, “Yeah, she doesn’t want to talk, obviously. She wants to talk to my ex-wife for some reason, I guess. I don’t know.”
Here, Barnett is referring to a TikTok Jaffrey posted in which she said she was meeting up with Barnett's ex. In the pods, Barnett told Jaffrey he had been previously married and the relationship was short-lived. But he wanted to try marriage again and decided to propose to Jaffrey.
Looking back at his time on “Love Is Blind,” Conlin asked if Barnett would still get engaged to the flight attendant if he could do it all over again.
“Hell no!” he replied. “Not after what I know now. Not the way you phrased the question. I know what I’ve done. I can’t change what is done.”
However, that doesn’t mean he only remembers the difficult times with Jaffrey and completely ignores the good memories.
“There was a lot of awesome moments with Zanab during our experience, and I love her for what we did together,” he told Conlin.
He then concluded, “But it’s like, no. Now that I see how things end, it’s gross. Like, that was just a horrible experience.”