Love Island's Joel Dishes On His Connections With Bella And Phoebe - Exclusive Interview

Many of us know what it's like to get so close to an amazing romantic relationship, only to have it slip through our fingers. Whether it was a high school crush who fell in love with someone else or it was that one relationship in your early 20s that is definitely the one that got away, finding your heart being pulled to another person is an amazing, raw, and irresistible thing. No show on television encapsulates this feeling more than "Love Island," of which its iterations in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and more are setting the world on fire (love-wise). "Love Island" Season 4 had a dramatic start, bombshell entrances throughout, and a heartfelt ending, with Joel Bierwert coming in at just the right time. Yes, there were established couples with their eyes clearly set on the $100,000 prize, but other singles and rocky connections made the bombshell's entrance even better.


Joel quickly connected with Bella Barbaro, but unfortunately, she found herself at the bottom of the pack and ultimately had to pack her bags. Joel's attention turned to Phoebe Siegel, but he realized with time that Bella was the person he was drawn to most. Having been in the villa for about a week, Joel's time came to a close, and he sat down with us for an exclusive interview about his experience on the show. What was it about Bella that had him giddy? Will the two reconnect now that they're on the outside? He gave us all the answers you're looking for.

Joel reflects on his elimination night

Before we get into your relationship with Bella [Barbaro], your connection with Phoebe [Siegel], and everything that happened, I want to go back to the elimination. You found yourself in the bottom four with Phoebe. What was going through your head at that very moment?


I was standing up there at the elimination, and honestly, I was looking at the girls contemplating and I was like, "I know it's me. It's okay. It's okay for me to go home." It was a very bittersweet moment for me, because obviously, I didn't want to leave the villa. I love all those guys there and all those girls there, and I wanted to be there to continue to support them and help them through their relationships. But I felt it was my time to go.

Phoebe had already dropped me and was pursuing a relationship with Chad [Robinson], and I felt that they needed to fully pursue that and needed to have that opportunity without any distraction of Mackenzie [Dipman] or I being there. I was excited that they decided to keep Chad and that Mackenzie decided to leave, so that way they could fully explore that relationship.


What did you think when Mackenzie decided to self-eliminate?

She and I had some conversations, and I knew that she was already thinking about it with how much Chad was all in and how closed off everyone else was in their relationships. She didn't feel that there was any place for her anymore, like I felt. There weren't any more relationships to explore. We were just there for moral support and to help everyone, so we both thought it was our time to go.

You weren't in the villa for too long. Do you feel as though you came in when everyone was coupled up and more exclusive?

Not really. When I came in, there were still five people that got eliminated the next day. I came in at a perfect time because everything was a little bit in shambles. Sydney [Paight] and Kat [Gibson] were both still single. Chanse [Corbi] was single, and Bella and Chazz [Bryant] were on the ropes. I was really excited to get in there and see if I couldn't make some waves.

I had a conversation with each girl individually, even before that first night of eliminations, other than Deb [Chubb]. Deb was the only one I didn't get to talk to. But I felt that it was definitely the right time for me to come in, and I was excited to come in as a bombshell. Everyone said that I had OG vibes, but I appreciated coming in when I did. I would've loved to have had a recoupling before any eliminations, but life has this way of working out.


Joel dishes about Bella and if the two have reconnected

We all know you were interested in Bella when you arrived. What was it about her that caught your eye, and how did you feel when she ultimately ended up having to go home?

She definitely had my eye a little bit. I had my eye on a few other girls in the villa. I wanted to talk to Nadjha [Day] and Kat [Gibson], and I felt Phoebe had such a strong, alpha mentality. Then I sat down with Bella in that first conversation, and she swept me off my feet. Every question I asked was the exact answer I was looking for — dating for marriage, family-oriented — all those amazing things — motivated singer-songwriter. Who doesn't love a girl who can sing? I was excited to continue to explore that.


On elimination night, you saw that my eyes were teared up. I honestly almost left that night, it was that great of an emotional connection. It sucked — it was really, really hard for me in that moment to try and put my feelings aside and be like, "I came out here for a reason, I got to see this thing through." That's ultimately what I ended up doing, but it was very, very difficult.

Have you gotten to reconnect with Bella since you left?

Yeah. I'm really excited to see her, and we have plans to see each other very, very soon. As far as the details of that, I can't get into that, but I'm very, very excited to see her.

That's exciting. Are you going to take things as they come in the real world?


We're going to go with the flow. We only had 24 hours to see how we felt, but in my days since being in the villa, or in my days since she left being in the villa, it became more and more clear every day with every conversation that I had that my feelings toward Bella were true and genuine. That is something that I really wanted to pursue. I had beautiful women like Phoebe and Courtney and Mackenzie, and I got to have conversations with all of them and the opportunity to couple up with all three of them. Ultimately, nothing was as strong as the feelings I had for Bella. She was all I could think about, and I was excited to get back to her.

People are rooting for both of you, so you've got to keep us posted with what happens.

We have our own fan page already. It's crazy.

Was Phoebe playing the Love Island game? Joel weighs in

Once Bella left, you had a connection with Phoebe. Were you at all wary that she was playing the "Love Island" game? That's been something that's been circulating around the fandom for quite some time.


There's been a lot of hate going her way for playing the field, but that's what "Love Island" is all about — exploring connections and seeing what's there. I don't fault her on anything that she did. She did what she had to do to stay in the game as long as she could, and ultimately, she had already friend-zoned me.

I didn't know her full feelings towards me as far as how in the friend zone I was. When the recoupling came around, she was like, "Yeah, I'll be open to getting to know you more." We did have a good first conversation together, and our second conversation was an affirmation of that. We vibed together. We had great laughs and really connected. I was excited to get to explore that more, but ultimately, she didn't feel anything romantically towards me. I was happy that she ended it when she did so she could fully be invested in Chad and explore that relationship — I wish them nothing but the best.


Do you have any predictions for how the season will wrap up? It's already coming to a close.

The finale's right around the corner. In my mind, there's two couples that stand above the rest, which is Zimmy [Timmy Pandolfi and Zeta Morrison] and Isaiah [Campbell] and Syd [Paight]. Isaiah and Sydney are already boyfriend-girlfriend. They've had such an amazing journey and reconnected and won the baby challenge. They're going to win some votes there. It's definitely going to be a toss-up. Zeta and Timmy have been strong from the get-go. They're exclusive as well. I think it's between those two couples at this point.

Love Island affirmed Joel's desire to settle down

Were you at all surprised about "Love Island" and how you approached your time on the show, although it was brief?

"Love Island" — I didn't know what to expect coming in. I didn't know if it was going to be a production or what it was. As soon as I got in there, I saw how genuine and true everything was and how genuine and true all the conversations were. I was excited to be in that environment. I'm a very, very social guy, so coming in, I wanted to be as open and as true as I possibly could be. Talking with everyone felt easy to me — I came in and had as many conversations as I could and made so many amazing connections. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


What did you learn about yourself throughout the process? Anything you'll take forward with you from here?

It was definitely an affirmation — I'd just gotten out of a three-and-a-half-year relationship a year and a half ago and took this last year and a half to focus on myself and become the man that I need to be in order to hopefully have a family in the very near future. Going on there and having all those conversations with all the guys — and opening up about my journey and where I've been and who I am now — was an affirmation that everything I've done to this point is what I need to do and that I am ready to settle down and date for marriage and see if I can find my forever woman.

Is there anything you wish viewers could have seen more of or differently from you?


Honestly, I felt like I was portrayed in a great light, and I've gotten so much positive feedback about the person I am, which is further affirmation of who I am and how being genuine and true is so important, especially in today's world. Don't be afraid to show emotion. Don't be afraid to show who you are, because people love it.

Men cry — let them cry. Everyone feels the full spectrum of emotion.

Exactly. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be emotional. It's okay to be compassionate and caring for people, and it's okay to wear your heart on your sleeve. That's what I did. I hope people see that and make that change for themselves to be more open and be more vulnerable, because only great things can come from it. Even if it's a little bit of heartbreak, at least people know your true intentions and they know who you are.

"Love Island" Season 4 concluded on August 28. The reunion episode will drop on September 1 at 9 p.m./6 p.m. ET/PT.

This interview was edited for clarity.