The couple issued a joint statement to InTouch magazine about their decision to end their engagement: "After meeting over a year ago, we have decided to end our romantic relationship. The ups and downs weighed heavily on us both and ultimately we started to grow apart because of the distance, time apart, and our need to focus on our respective careers."
No doubt Flajnik and Robertson gave it the old college try -- but the statement, like many issued by "Bachelor" couples on the way out, sounds like code for "we got engaged when we barely knew each other, but it's time to end the charade." Their comments to InTouch went on, "We have nothing but the utmost respect for each other, and both feel this is the right decision... We continue to remain friends and will support each other in future endeavors. Thanks to everyone for your love and support, it's been quite a ride."
Flajnik and Robertson seemed cozy in recent days, posting shmoopy pictures of the home they shared as recently as August, and even tweeting a photo of themselves at the wine harvest. But the breakup may not surprise many who watched Season 16; though it ended in Ben popping the question to Courtney, many viewers disliked her abrasive attitude towards other girls in the house, and Ben may finally have gotten tired of her inappropriate reactions and affinity for Charlie Sheen quotes. The relationship hadn't been smooth sailing earlier in the year, either; the pair had tried to move in together once before, then opted instead to "take things slow" and get to know each other better out of the spotlight. And news reports over the summer indicated that Flajnik was getting kinda cranky about his association with the fairytale franchise, telling AnnArbor.com that he would never do the "Bachelor" spinoff, "Bachelor Pad," "in a million years" and that he was "done with" the show.
Certainly the end of the affair won't shock those who think "The Bachelor" just doesn't "work" as a way to form lasting romantic relationships. Flajnik and Robertson's split drives the weak winning percentage of "The Bachelor's" couples down even further. To date, after 16 seasons of that show and eight of "The Bachelorette," only one marriage is still intact, that of first-season "Bachelorette" star Trista Rehn and her finalist, Ryan Sutter (Season 13's Jason Mesnick did marry the runner-up from his season, Molly Malaney).
Whether you think the show is romantic, a cynical farce, or unintentionally hilarious, there's no disputing that "The Bachelor" is at something of a PR low point. The Flajnik/Robertson announcement comes on the heels of rumors that the most recent Bachelorette, Emily Maynard, has been cheating on her fiance, Jef Holm, with Matt Leinart of the Oakland Raiders -- via sexting.
Watch Ben and Courtney's infamous skinny-dip excursion in this "Bachelor" clip: