Big Ed Gets Real About His Journey With Therapy - Exclusive

If there is one person who embodies the fantastic, absurd, and barrier-breaking franchise that is "90 Day Fiancé" and its spin-off shows, it's Ed "Big Ed" Brown. After first appearing on Season 4 of "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days," Big Ed gained a tremendous amount of attention — both praising and criticizing — for his persona, relationship with then-girlfriend Rose, and his overall approach to romantic pursuits. Big Ed and Rose's relationship ultimately didn't last (despite the thousands of dollars he spent on her, plus the rather oddly bonding experience of him showering with her father), but that didn't mean that the franchise saw the last of him. Making it big on social media in addition to his time on-screen, Big Ed's star continued to rise and he appeared on spin-off shows "90 Day Diaries," "90 Day Bares All," and "90 Day: The Single Life." It was during "90 Day: The Single Life" that Big Ed became romantically involved with Liz Smith, a waitress 27 years his junior — he was once again in the spotlight due to his on-camera relationship, and fans of the reality star got to sink their teeth into his personal life all over again.

As many of us now know, Big Ed and Liz are engaged, but their relationship was not an easy one. The two had their fair share of ups and downs, and even split up as a result. Of course, their love was clearly meant to be, as the two decided to not only get back together, but to tie the knot as well. So what happened during their time apart? Did they just need a break, or did something fundamentally change? If you ask Big Ed, and we did, he'd tell you that the biggest aspect of his life that changed was his pursuit of self-awareness and, hand-in-hand with that process, his therapy practice. In an exclusive sit down with The List, Big Ed revealed the profound ways in which therapy has changed his romantic life, his perspective of himself, and his approach to finding love on-camera. Here's everything he had to say when Big Ed got real about his journey with therapy.

Big Ed wanted to become a better version of himself

Throughout his time within the "90 Day Fiancé" franchise, we've seen Ed "Big Ed" Brown do a lot of outlandish things. He was the guy who put mayonnaise in his hair as a conditioning treatment, and asked his former girlfriend Rose to get an STD test rather bluntly — to say that he made himself known within the TLC universe is an understatement, and as such, he garnered a huge amount of attention. But the overnight fame that came with his time on "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days" wasn't all rainbows and sunshine for him, and in an exclusive sit down with The List, he shared that after navigating his time on the show, he realized that he wanted to become a better version of himself. 

"The first and biggest commitment I made was to myself, and I really worked on myself, not just physically — how I looked, my hairstyle," Big Ed told us. "I really wanted to create a better version of who I am, but I just realized since Rose that I really don't know how to be in a relationship, so I got a therapist." Calling his therapist "absolutely amazing," Big Ed shared that it was during his first appointment where his therapist called him out for codependent tendencies. "Day one, she hands me a list of what we call co-dependencies and I'm like, holy crap. I was probably 10 out of 10," he shared. 

Throughout his "wonderful journey" with his therapist, Big Ed came to realize that there was a lot about himself that he needed to learn. He told The List that it was easy for him to say "love yourself and laugh at yourself," but he himself wasn't embodying that lighthearted approach to life. "The hardest thing for us to do is to really look at who we are," he said. "I'm not good at being in a relationship, and I proved that with Rose and I proved that with Liz."

This was Big Ed's biggest breakthrough during his therapy journey

Many of us who have maintained a therapy practice have had breakthrough moments of clarity, and Ed "Big Ed" Smith's came when he realized that pursuing and maintaining a romantic relationship has to be "your choice," not your friends' choice, not your family's choice, but yours. Not only that, but he told The List that a second moment of clarity in therapy came when he realized that "you have to accept somebody for who they are. You can't change them" — something that he admitted having tried to do in both his relationships with Rose and Liz. 

While explaining his journey with his therapist to The List, Big Ed further explained that it was in therapy when he realized that there were two versions of himself — one who existed in front of the cameras, and one that was trying to live behind closed doors. It was his therapist who helped him navigate that difficult path. "The first thing she said to me was, 'Look, there are two people sitting in front of me. There is Big Ed that's on TV. And then there's Ed, the person that's emotionally crying.' She helped me really define that there are two different people," Big Ed shared with The List. He also went on to explain that his therapist told him, "It's impossible for you to be in a committed relationship while on TV, because you are constantly being praised and ridiculed." 

While explaining that he receives a number of lovely and positive messages, Big Ed also told The List that being in the public eye has led to a good deal of criticism. "When you start reading that stuff, it can really, really bring you down," he shared. Still, despite the ups and downs of his journey, Big Ed shared that being in therapy has been one of the best decisions of his life, and it has clearly benefited him as he is now set to tie the knot with his fiancée, Liz.

"90 Day: The Single Life" Season 2 premiered Friday, November 12 on discovery+.