I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 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.
Ashley Howland had been dating her boyfriend Casey for a year and a half prior to going on Temptation Island. They came to Hawaii hoping to deal with their trust and commitment issues and move forward with their future together. I got the chance to talk with her about how she and Casey originally met, what initially attracted her to both Deac and Ben, in what ways she feels like this journey helped her grow as a person and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
I want to go back all the way the beginning. How did you and Casey meet initially?
We actually met on social media. If you’ve heard of the dating app Bumble, that’s how we met.
I know it was Casey’s idea initially to bring you to Temptation Island but what made you ultimately agree to do the show? What questions were you specifically looking to answer about your relationship?
Honestly, I didn’t really have a say. We were going regardless. I didn’t want to go at all at first, but he was like, “It’d be a really good opportunity for us. And I think that it will help build up our relationship” and all this stuff. And he said that he wanted to be well known. He was trying to be an actor, and he’s like, “Maybe this would be a good step for me.” I was like, “I really just don’t want to go” and he was like, “Well, I’m sorry, but we’re going.” I was like, “Oh. Alright, I guess we’re going.” I didn’t really have a say in it.
Interesting. Did you guys hash out a set of boundaries or deal breakers before taping began about what type of behavior would be okay and what would ultimately be unforgivable?
We said that there was no cuddling, kissing or sex with anybody. That was our rule.
Were you familiar with the show before you went on and got to the island? And if not, did you go back and watch old episodes to see what they might throw at you throughout filming?
Yes, we did watch the first season together. So we kind of had an idea of what it was going to be like.
Was that after you found out you were going or before you found out you were going?
Well, when we applied and we did our first Skype interview, that’s when I was like, “I really don’t want to do it.” And even after finishing season one, I still was like, “If this is something that you are thinking about doing, I don’t want to do it.”
Because of how badly you didn’t want to go and the fact that he was so adamant about going, did it cross your mind to break up with him at that point in time?
No, I never thought about breaking up with him at that point in time. I was thinking we were just going to go there and do what he said and that was how it was going to end. We’re going to end up together and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. So I didn’t really think about breaking up with him beforehand, no.
Once you got to the island and filming actually started and this process actually became real, how confident were you that you were going to leave Temptation Island as a couple?
I was very confident because most of the time I was there, I was just focusing on him and I and I wasn’t really focusing on myself. All I was thinking about was him every day, so I was very confident that we were going to leave together.
When the singles come out that first night and do their intros, what was going through your head in that moment? Were you nervous? Did finally seeing them make it more exciting?
I definitely was nervous because the girls obviously were beautiful and their one-liners were kind of intimidating. So I definitely was nervous the first time we met the singles. I wasn’t really paying attention to any of the guys to be honest [laughs]. I was really focused on the girls.
That’s interesting that you say that. So that first week, you decided to go out on the date with Deac, which I think shocked a lot of people on Twitter just because I think a lot of people thought of him a certain way based off his intro. So what was it about him that you found attractive and in what ways did you guys connect off the bat?
Initially, I had three people that I was thinking about taking on dates, and I was like, “It’s either going to be Ben, Deac or Aden” and I kind of made a decision last minute. He kind of reminded me of Casey, so I was comfortable being around him. That’s why I chose him for my first date.
In what ways did specifically did he remind you of Casey?
He was funny. He was just like joking around and would throw jokes. When we were sad, he would kind of pick us up and joke around with us. So that’s why I was like, “Okay, he really does remind me of Casey.” I mean, obviously their humor isn’t exactly the same, but he did remind me of him a little bit.
So you mentioned Ben, and at the same time, you had this connection with Ben, which created this kind of weird love triangle, or love square, if you want to include Casey. So, first, I’ll ask you the same thing: what was it about Ben that you found attractive and in what ways did you guys connect?
Ben was a really good listener; I could literally sit there and just talk, talk, talk and he would just sit there and listen and actually take in everything that I was saying. He was just easy to talk to, so that’s one thing that really drew my attention to him.
Second, was it weird trying to navigate your connections with both Ben and Deac when all three of you seem to be super close? I think at one point you even dubbed yourselves the three amigos.
Yeah, we were. It was definitely hard. But what I was thinking was, “I’m gonna take Deac on one, Ben on one, Deac on one, Ben on one”, just kind of flip flopping around just because I’m so invested in my relationship and I didn’t want Casey to see me taking the same person out on dates and get the wrong idea.
So in episode 5, you see the clip at your bonfire of Casey saying that he loves you but he’d be okay if you were to ever leave him. It’s after that, though, that your relationship with Ben really started to change and get more serious. Was you starting to fully embrace the Temptation Island experience more of a reaction to seeing Casey say that or are the two things mutually exclusive and your relationship with Ben was just developing into something that could no longer be ignored?
I think that when I first heard Casey say that, I thought our relationship was over, and that was the last straw for me, because all of the bonfires I was seeing were really upsetting me. And I know that I wasn’t doing anything remotely close to what Casey was doing. I know that I did get the lap dancers from both Ben and Deac but I did that because I was upset. That’s the only reason. I was upset with him and I was like, “Well, if that’s how he’s gonna play it, I’m gonna play it like that too.” But then as it continued on, I wasn’t really diving in until I heard Casey say that and then that’s when I was like, “Okay, well, I do have a little crush on Ben so I’m just going to move forward with it and focus more on what I want to do rather than thinking about what Casey’s doing all the time.”
If Ben hadn’t taken the initiative and kissed you on that second date with him, do you think you would have still continued to go back and forth between Deac and Ben until the final date?
Honestly, that’s a really hard question to answer. I’m not exactly sure 100%. I think that I could have made the first move, but I’m not the type of girl to do that. So if he didn’t do that, I don’t think that it would have progressed.
So on the topic of bonfires, you’ve seen some interesting bonfire clips throughout your time on the show. Did the bonfires get easier or tougher as time went by?
They got easier honestly as time went by, because I already knew that I was going to expect something I didn’t love to see. So as time went on, after that first hot tub one where he was like, “Yeah, I’d be fine. I could go back to being single and hooking up with whoever I want”, I knew that later on down the road, they were going to be kind of the same shit. I was like, “Okay, it’s not going to change. I’ve been seeing the same thing over and over and over.” So honestly, it did get easier because I already knew what I was expecting.
In episode 7, you guys get to send video messages to each other if you chose to. In your video message, you told Casey that you had transformed into “a woman that you didn’t think was possible.” That’s honestly been one of my favorite parts of this season is watching you grow as a person. Looking back though, what was the biggest thing you learned about yourself from this experience?
To not wait for somebody else. I always put other people before myself and I realized that’s not something that I should be doing. I realized that it’s my life and I should be doing what I want to do and learning who I am as a person because honestly, I didn’t really know who I was. I was just living for other people. So then once I started living for myself – and we have so much time to just sit there and talk about yourself and think about yourself – I was growing into somebody I didn’t know that I could be.
I was watching your episode reaction videos on YouTube – which I love that you do, by the way, I think they’re so cool – and one of the things you mentioned in the one for episode seven is that you regret not telling Casey that you loved him at the end of your video message. Why?
Because I do. I mean, I do love him as a person and I feel bad that I didn’t say I love you and I miss you because I did. I did love him and I missed him and I know that I taped that video, when I was done, I was like, “Oh my god, I didn’t even say it.” But then it kind of opened my eyes, I’m like, “Do I even love him any more?” And I was kind of going back and forth with myself, but ultimately, when we did leave,I was just like, “Yeah, I really wish that I did tell him that I loved him and missed him.” Because I did. So it was kind of something where I wish that I said it, but I guess I just didn’t; the words just didn’t really come.
So speaking of watching it back, what has watching it back been like? I mean this is your first experience on reality TV, so is it weird or are you totally comfortable with seeing yourself on TV?
It’s very weird, honestly, to see myself on TV because there are times where I know that I’m like, “Oh lordy I drank a lot that night [laughs]. That’s a little embarrassing.” Also It’s just very weird to see how I’ve changed as a person from the beginning of the episodes up until now. I’m definitely a different person than I was when I first got there.
When you’re doing these reaction videos, is that the first time you’re seeing the episodes?
So when we did the reunion, they had us watch all the rest of the episodes. But some of the episodes have been changed. So some things during the episodes, I’m like, “I don’t remember watching that.” So yes, those are definitely my true and honest reactions. And same with my friends; they haven’t seen the episodes either. So yeah, it’s definitely my true and honest reaction.
Interesting. From the eight episodes that we’ve seen, is there a moment from filming that didn’t air that you wish that we, as viewers, had gotten to see, whether it’s something that happened on one of your dates or something that just happened in the villa?
There’s so much that I wish that they showed. They make our house look sad and depressing at some times [laughs]. But honestly, we did have really good parties and the guys really did bring us up to be happy when we got back from bonfires, although the happiness did last a short period time and then we’d be upset. But the guys had a talent show for us and the talent show was so good. I don’t know why they didn’t show it because it was a really, really good talent show. It was interesting to see what the guys chose to perform for us and I wish that they showed that.
That’s so funny. I feel like with the other villa, it was like party after party after party after party and you guys had parties, but we just don’t see it.
Yeah. We did have really good parties and I really wish that they did show more of that. But I guess the very big moments that they want viewers to see are when we’re kind of like transforming into who we are before we leave.
I’ve always just said that this show needs to be two hours so we can see everything.
Yeah, me too.
So without giving away the ending, are you happy with how things ended and do you have any regrets about your time on the show?
I am happy with how things ended up. There aren’t very many regrets. I really don’t regret anything.
After having been on this show, do you view relationships and dating differently?
Very much so. You really, really, really got to get to know somebody before jumping into a relationship because people can show you for so long what you want to see and then take a complete 360 and be a completely different person. So you really got to know the person in and out before you jump into a relationship. I know that when you’re in a relationship, that’s the point of getting to know someone but people will show their true colors because they get comfortable with you. So I think that’s how I view relationships differently now.
Last question – our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some kind of inner nerd so what is something you are currently nerding out about?
I am into video games, honestly. The Sims games are my favorite. I’ve definitely spent over $1,000 on Sims games [laughs]. And Sims games will tell you how many hours you’ve played and I do not even want to say how many hours I’ve played.