Exclusive Interview with Temptation Island’s Nicole Tutewohl

In case you didn’t read my previous article, Temptation Island is one of the best reality TV shows this year. The reboot of the beloved Fox hit from the early 2000s follows four dating couples at the most vulnerable time in their relationship. They travel together to Maui but are soon split apart as they move into separate houses with 12 attractive singles of the opposite sex. At the end of the show, each couple will decide whether to stay together, leave the island with someone new, or leave completely alone.

Nicole Tutewohl had been dating her boyfriend Karl for two and a half years prior to going on Temptation Island. They had questions about what the next step in their relationship was and whether or not they had found “the one” in each other. They were hoping this experience would provide them with the answers they were looking for. I got the chance to talk with her about what boundaries she and Karl set before going on the show, what initially attracted her to new guy Tyler, in what ways she feels like this journey helped her grow as a person and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!

How did you and Karl meet initially?

We met originally at the gym. We both lived in Minnesota, but at the time, we didn’t really entertain things right away because I had a boyfriend. But then about a year down the line, I was single and Karl and I kept running into each other out and about. So then we decided to get to know each other a little bit. 

What made you guys agree to do Temptation Island? What questions were you looking to answer about your relationship through this experience?

I was very hesitant to go on Temptation Island. Karl had actually been reached out to, and originally, I had said no. I don’t think that would probably be the best idea for us to do. But after we had a couple conversations, we kind of talked through the pros and cons. We were at a point where we had been dating for about two and a half years, and we lived together; I felt like I kept getting the question of, “What’s the next big step? Are you guys gonna get engaged? Where’s the ring?” That just had me start thinking, “Is this the one? Is he the guy that I’m supposed to marry? He’s my first true love.” So I thought going to the island could get us some answers on different perspectives of relationships and just [know if] he was the one that I was supposed to take it another step further with. 

So before you guys left, did you guys hash out a set of boundaries or deal breakers before taping began? Especially considering you guys were going to be dating other people. Did you discuss what type of behavior would be okay and what would be unforgivable? 

Yeah, we discussed the obvious of no sex, and honestly, a lot of the physical barriers were off guard. But as we actually got to Maui, and a couple of days before we started filming, we started talking over different scenarios that weren’t so obvious — like dancing, being in the hot tub, and being more feely but not necessarily sleeping together or kissing somebody. So there was definitely some gray areas, and I think I knew that we may enter into some of those gray areas just because we didn’t set strict boundaries on all of those. 

Right. Obviously, Temptation Island is a reboot of the original from the early 2000s. Were you familiar with that version at all? Did you try and find old episodes to see what twists and turns they might throw at you throughout filming?

Yeah, honestly it was filmed in 2001-2003, and I don’t even know if I was a teenager yet. Or I might have been in my early teens [laughs]. So I definitely didn’t watch the original show. When they reached out to us, and we started contemplating if it was something we wanted to do, I did look into some of the episodes online. But honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was getting a true measure of what the experience would be like. It seemed, kind of, a little trashy, and we were reassured that this is going to be a more classy version, similar to The Bachelor. So I tried to not 100% assume that it would be like some of the episodes from the original. But I did get the sense of going on dates, being separated, and having bonfires to see clips of one another. 

Did that scare you at all? As you said, you thought the original version was a little trashier. They were reassuring you, of course, that this new version wasn’t, but was it lingering in the back of your head like, “Oh, I don’t know if I’m really ready for this. I don’t really know if we’re getting into the right thing for us”? 

Yeah. I mean, I think the original looked more like something along the lines of Jersey Shore, where people are just being wild. If they were comparing [this new rebooted version] to The Bachelor, I just had expectations that it would be more classy. The point they kept telling us was to see if you’re truly with the one you’re supposed to be with. So I feel like it didn’t necessarily linger in the back of my mind just because I felt like we were being presented a different opportunity given the time that we’re in now. 

Right. Moving into your actual experience on the show, when you guys first see the singles walk out, and they’re standing under that rain thing, what your first thought when you saw them?

Honestly, I just thought it was a lot more real when we saw all of them come to the surface and have to introduce themselves; that was very overwhelming because there were 24 of them. It just made me realize like, “What did we sign up for? Why are we being presented all these people in front of us?” It made me realize that we are definitely on Temptation Island, and we were going to have to start entertaining these different people because they came here for a reason as well. 

That first week you chose Tyler to go out on a date with. What was it about him that you found attractive, and in what ways did you guys connect right off the bat? 

Honestly, the first date selection was really difficult just because we had only had an hour to interact with these people already. Tyler came to mind for me because at our social hour we were trying to have conversations but I felt like we kept getting cut off. So I was interested to see what that conversation would be and, at the same time, I liked the fact that he was kind of respecting my space in the house, and he wasn’t really aggressive and down my back. So for me, I felt like that would be good for a casual date where I wouldn’t feel a lot of pressure. 

What were your feelings going into your first bonfire? Did the bonfires get easier or tougher as time went by?

Originally for the first bonfire, none of us girlfriends knew what to expect; we thought maybe our boyfriends would be there because we had already seen them for the first date selection. We weren’t really sure what was all going to go down at these bonfires, and I thought we would have another chance to see our boyfriends. So the first one was definitely unexpected, and I think, after that, it set the precedent for what to expect moving forward. Expectation-wise, I would say it got easier. But, at the same time, as the bonfires went on, I knew that the couples were getting more comfortable around the singles, so it was a little bit nerve-wracking for what we would potentially see. 

In episode three, the guys did a talent show for y’all and Jack wrote and performed this poem. That was really the first time we saw you break and be emotional and vulnerable. I’m curious: what was it about his poem that hit you at that moment? 

Yeah, I think it was definitely a timing thing at the talent show when Jack read his poem. All of the other girlfriends had broken down, already been emotional and cried at this point. It was a short, sweet poem, but at the end of it, he just said, “At the end of the day, I hope that all of you girls are happy, and I hope this brings a smile to your face,” or something similar to that. I felt like I was just thankful to know that the guys were there and had our best interests [at heart]. So it was just an emotional moment for me because I feel like we were a week or two into the experience, separated from our boyfriends, and it was just reassuring to know that these guys had our best interests and we had a lot more time to be with them. 

After that first date, there were two or three weeks where we barely saw Tyler. Then, all of a sudden, he was the person you spent the most time with. What went on with you guys during that time we, as viewers, didn’t see? 

I think one thing that allowed Tyler and I to connect was the fact that we weren’t always trying to be the center of attention throughout the episode. We weren’t being crazy. So a lot of the things that we were doing, I think, were more just on the down low; we would have been having a more meaningful conversation, but it wouldn’t be something that everyone was focused on. I feel like, as the episodes went on, because we had all those meaningful conversations and started connecting more on an intellectual and emotional level, that’s where you can start to see us really bond. And it’s starting to pick up on some of our interactions at that point. 

In this past week’s episode, we got to see you guys leave 30-second videos for your partners — if you wanted to. In yours, you said that being on Temptation Island made you realize your relationship with Karl, up until that point, was very surface level. What made you come to that realization?

Karl and I, we had been together for the least [amount of] time out of all the couples. We had been dating for two and a half years prior to going on the show. I just spent a lot of time with Kaci and Shari, and I saw how emotionally invested they were in their significant other. How much they really loved their partner. It made me question myself, “Why am I not thinking about Karl as much as they’re thinking about their boyfriends?” I don’t feel like I would be devastated if something were to happen because I feel like it would be more so meant to be. Therefore, I feel like that’s the point when I started self-reflecting and discovering more about myself and just tried to identify the different qualities and aspects that were present in Karl and I’s relationship that were blocking us from getting in a deeper love or a deeper connection. I think some of those qualities that I started recognizing were communicating with one another and really learning how to be vulnerable so that we could get to a new level of depth in our relationship. I think being there just allowed me to realize that we weren’t really at that point yet, in comparison to some of the other couples. 

Going off of that, one of my favorite parts of the show has been seeing you grow and blossom, really come into your own. Just like you were just talking about. Looking back, what’s the biggest thing you learned about yourself from this experience?

Honestly, I feel like I’ve learned a couple of things. But the biggest ones that I would take away are allowing myself to be vulnerable within my relationships, in life. Whether that be with my family, my friends, my significant other. The people that I truly hold close and dear to me and my heart, I need to be vulnerable with them so that we can keep growing and trusting each other and get to a deeper level of our relationship. Then, another thing I would say is, just being true to myself and not trying to accommodate different people’s standards in ways that they want to do things because everyone in this world does things differently, thinks differently, and value things in different ways. But I can’t lose my voice. It’s important, for myself, to stay true to me, so that I ultimately live a happy life.

In the first seven episodes, is there a moment that didn’t air that you wish we, as viewers, had gotten to see, whether it be something that happened on one of your dates or something that happened in the mountain villa? 

Huh. Honestly, I feel like there’s a lot that hasn’t been aired. I’m trying to think which one I would be interested for viewers to see. I think, more than anything, some of the scenes that were more like events, like the talent show, for example. There was just a lot more that went on that I thought was fun and really showed everyone in the house bonding. There was a lot more rapping, and the girls did impersonations of the single guys. I did some gymnastics flips. I think it’s just funny to see how much, kind of, gets cut out that were really bigger bonding moments for the singles and the couples, which allowed us to get closer with one another. 

Obviously, you can’t give away the ending, but I’m curious: are you happy with how things ended and do you have any regrets about your time on the show? 

I am happy with the way things ended just because it’s six months down the line now. I’m able to really reflect back on my journey and how things went, especially seeing it all play out on TV. It’s funny because, I think, you get out of the experience and you, maybe, second guess your decisions because it was such a different environment to be on Temptation Island. But it’s another thing you can see yourself, reassure yourself [with], as the episodes come out. It’s one thing for your friends to reassure you in life, but it’s another to see yourself speaking these words and reassuring yourself, as a viewer, that you’ve, kind of, made the right decisions and the right steps. So I am happy at this point. I don’t have any regrets because I think where I was at before Temptation Island, and the journey I had helped me get to the realizations that I have now. 

Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some kind of inner-nerd. So what is something that you are currently nerding out about? 

I would say just fitness has been a big point in my life, always, because I’ve been involved in so many different things within the health and fitness industry. I feel like, now, coming out of this experience, it’s just opened opportunities and different segues for me to just embark on that journey a little bit more with fitness. I feel like I have a lot of goals, and I’m really excited about new directions that I can take my fitness and health goals coming out of Temptation Island and really exposing myself to some of the viewers and the knowledge that I have. 

Temptation Island airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on USA. You can follow Nicole on Twitter and Instagram.

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