And so, Bret has found his rock of love for a third and last (?) time. In the first part of our chat with the Rock of Love Bus “winner,” Taya talks her connection with Bret: why she thinks it can work, her take on the ring situation and whether or not this is love…
Thank you. Maybe. We don’t know what’s going to happen at the reunion. Maybe you’ll be wiping my tears after.
How has your interaction with Bret been since the show wrapped? Frequent?
He’s reached out to me via some personal friends. He’s gotten messages to me here and there. I’ve talked to Big John. I’ve gotten “Hello’s” and “How ya doin’s?” and updates through other people. We’re not supposed to be around each other or talk. We’ve played it safe. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m a little nervous about it.
Bret didn’t give you the ring he bought, but he also said that he debated not choosing either you or Mindy. Did that seem strange to you?
Yeah. It threw me for a loop, because I didn’t realize anybody was at a ring level yet. Especially since he had the one percent doubt about me. Also, I realized at that moment if he doesn’t pick me, it would have made the heartbreak even worse. Not only would I have to take, “I don’t want to be with you,” but there would also be “and I’m proposing to Mindy.”
Were you disappointed about not receiving the ring?
“Disappointed” isn’t the word I’d use. I thought it was the right decision, given how he felt. I don’t think anyone should expect a ring unless you’re both 100 percent sure. He left it open for the future, and the gesture at least showed me that he’s serious about a serious commitment. It told me his heart was in the right place, and that was reassuring.
These reality relationships have a reputation of not working out. Do you have a set plan to make it work?
I think that our lifestyles complement each other so well. I don’t see a need for a lot of strategy. Whereas with some of the other girls, they might have to finagle this or that, I’m already on the road. It’s not like I work 9 to 5. My job as it is, I can go, “Hey, Bret’s going to be in Vegas. Can you schedule my trip to Vegas while he’s there?” I have a lot of freedom when it comes to scheduling. If it can work, it will.
Did you have any strategy on the show, period?
I didn’t go into this with a competitive state of mind. I went into it thinking that we maybe had similar dating problems, although his are on a much bigger scale. I figured this is the very person that could understand what I go through and all the questions that pop up about people’s motives and this and that when I meet someone I like. There was a chance I would go on the show and that he wouldn’t be for me. I allowed myself to stay and keep going with the battle because emotions got involved and I started really caring for him. He was worth the effort I gave. In the end, I was 100 percent invested in him emotionally.
Obviously, a few months is a long time not to see someone that you might be with or whatever. Do you still feel the way for Bret that you did when the show wrapped a few months ago?
The hard thing for me is that I’m the only girl from the show that leaves and has no closure. As messed up as it is that someone gets their heart broken, there is closure in heartbreak. You can move on. When you leave and you’re the winner, it’s a bittersweet thing. You’re emotionally involved and then you think, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. In the next six months when he’s on tour, maybe he’s going to find someone else. Maybe his feelings will change. The connection we’ve built may suffer.” And then add not being able to talk to anyone because you can’t give away the end of the show and you’re left festering with all these feelings.
Your decision to not spend the night with Bret during the finale was surprising. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before on Rock of Love.
We talked about it and it was definitely mutual. I had told him early on that I knew with the Penthouse thing that everyone was going to automatically assume, “She’s the whore. She’s the slut. She’s going to sleep with Bret.” That’s always been my problem with guys, with dating, with life, in general. There’s this stereotype that hangs over my head. I am more than misunderstood. The last thing I wanted to do was blur that line even more. I feel like I put 100 percent in. Bret wasn’t buying 100 percent. As long as he was feeling that way, I couldn’t let there be a physical situation. I told him, “I’m not going to sleep with you on this show.” I didn’t know if he slept with Mindy. I didn’t know what else went down on the show as it was happening. I just didn’t feel like it was the right situation for us. I knew if it was him and me at the end, we’d have plenty of time for a deeper physical relationship. If he didn’t choose me, I didn’t want that regret.
You say that you’re emotionally involved and that you care for Bret, but do you love him?
I don’t throw that word around carelessly. I love my son. I would take a bullet for my son. If my son needed my heart, I would give it to him. That’s how I know what love is. I never say that word even if I feel like the feelings I have are bordering on love. If I ever say that I love you, you can take that s*** to the bank, because I think the worst thing you can do is tell someone you love them and then take it back. I think that’s the problem with relationships in general. Bret and I have a lot in common. We had a lot to build on after leaving the show. Our lives are amazingly compatible. I have a child, he has children. We both grew up around music. We have Catholic families. We both grew up with meager beginnings; with small town backgrounds. There were a lot of reasons why we bonded. They didn’t show our deepest moments of connection on the show. If ever two people could fall in love, I’m sure it is us.
Are you hopeful?
I am, but I’m kind of waiting to wake up. I keep waiting to be uninvited to the party. I feel like this dorky, girl-next-door. I used to climb trees; I used to be a tomboy. You didn’t see my silly, crazy moments on the show. I was a little confused by the “high maintenance” references too. My life hasn’t been this yellow brick road. I’ve had ups and downs, I’ve fought to get where I am both in a career and emotionally. In saying that, I’m always waiting for the bottom to drop out. Right now, life is great. My job is great, my son is great. My heart feels great! All is right in the world. I’ve fought hard to get to this point. There’s always kind of a part of me that’s not pessimistic, but realistic. And like you said: reality TV relationships have a history of not working out. You always have that in the back of your mind: Is it real? Is it real? Is it real? I can only speak of my feelings: what I put into this show was real. What I built with Bret was real. What I get back from the reunion, we’ll see how real it was. Now is when it counts.
Click here for the second half of our interview with Taya, which deals with her portrayal, her treatment at the hands of the other girls and, duh, Penthouse.