It looks like a particularly happy holiday Bachelor in Paradise excellent Michael Allio and Danielle Maltby.
The finale of the ABC dating show aired Tuesday, revealing the couple as one of the two main success stories of the eighth season, along with newly engaged Brandon Jones and Serene Russell. After Allio’s initial attempt at romance with Sierra Jackson fizzled earlier in the season, Maltby arrived on a beach in Mexico and had an instant connection with the single father. During the finale, viewers learned that the pair were stronger than ever when Maltby moved from Nashville to Allio’s hometown of Akron, Ohio to be closer to him and his young son James.
The pair left Bachelor in Paradise before marriage proposals, so instead of getting engaged, their biggest moment was during the Allio finale, first introduced to viewers on Katie Thurston’s season Bachelor, stunning Maltby by telling her he loves her for the first time. But the pair explain it The Hollywood Reporter that they simply hope to take things at their own pace.
“We don’t necessarily feel the pressure of timelines that maybe the audience imposes or the show has,” says Allio. “We march to our own drum 100 percent and I think that’s what works best for us. So it’s all the little moments that we can now share together and start building memories as a couple that I can’t wait for.”
In the interview below, the couple discuss their holiday plans (Christmas tree shopping!), the debate over Maltby’s podcast conversation about Jackson last week, why Allio was reluctant to star as The Bachelor, and their reaction to the controversial part of the finale when Victoria Fuller announced she had ended her engagement with Johnny DePhillip and is now dating Allio’s colleague Bachelor Party alum Greg Grippo.
Your time during the finale was definitely a highlight of the episode. How does it feel to have everything outside?
Danielle Maltby: It’s unreal. Our little bubble is now broken and we can finally share our joy with more than just our closest friends and family.
Michael Allio: My phone has been blowing up since last night. It’s really great to look back, not only on the reunion, but on our whole journey. We see our walls coming down. We’re two highly guarded people and there’s just been a lot of progress, and as far as we’re concerned, we’ve been able to grow so much after the show. Sometimes that’s when relationships are tested the most and falter – that’s where ours really started, off camera.
What is most different from the real world?
Paintings: James is in the real world. It wasn’t on Paradise. (Laughter.)
Allia: We really hadn’t experienced too much of real life yet because everything was secret. We’ve been dating for almost six months now. We really spent a lot of time getting to know each other and diving deeper and not getting distracted by the outside world. With the holidays coming up, it feels like a really special time in our lives right now.
Paintings: It really is. I feel like every holiday comes around and I think, “Will I ever have someone?”
Allia: You don’t have to worry about it anymore. (Laughter.)
What do your holiday plans look like?
Allia: Danielle actually left Nashville at 3 in the morning to drive here. My sister has Thanksgiving tomorrow so we are going to spend the afternoon making pumpkin pies and meal prep. And the day after Thanksgiving…
Paintings: Buying a Christmas tree!
Allia: We buy our Christmas tree; we will decorate
Paintings: I’m just so happy!
You two left the beach before the marriage proposal, but did you talk about those moments along the way?
Paintings: A few things have to happen before I move up. I want to make sure I leave my office in the best space possible, find the right job, the right apartment. But honestly, all we’re looking forward to now is being able to go on dates in the same city. And I really just want more time to focus on my relationship with James. I want to be able to pick him up from school and meet you at home. It’s a daily life that makes me happy to be up here and a part of it.
Allia: We are both very intentional with our actions and what we want out of life. We don’t necessarily feel the pressure of timelines that maybe the audience imposes or the show has in place. We march to our own drum one hundred percent and I think that works best for us. So it’s all the little moments that we can now share together and start building memories as a couple that I can’t wait for.
Paintings: I am so excited. Long distance is fun and all, but if we want this relationship to work, we need to be closer.
Allia: I’m excited to see her and James’ relationship blossom. They have this amazing connection. I picked him up from school yesterday and he asked, “Where’s Danielle?” And I was like, “He’s coming on Wednesday.” And he’s like, “You said two days!” I was like, “Yeah, it was Monday.” He is so excited to see her. The last time Danielle was in town we dropped her off at the airport and James was in the back seat and he said, “Danielle, when you get there, you want us to call you, make sure you’re okay, that you have someone to talk to ?”
Paintings: “You hear our voices.”
Allia: He is just the sweetest baby in the world and they have such a healthy, beautiful relationship and this is just the beginning.
Paintings: He is my little friend.
Michael, you obviously know Greg from Katie’s season. One of the key moments from the finale was seeing Victoria and Greg talk about their relationship. What was your opinion on it?
Allia: Greg and I are good friends. I know it comes from a really good place. Where people are hung up on this thing is the timelines and only they know the timeline. What can I say, we were both trying to find love – it’s hard to find. If you can find your happiness in any possible way, you must go for it. And I’m a big fan of Johnny too. He’s a wonderful, wonderful person.
Paintings: He’s a really good guy.
Allia: The whole situation was simply complicated. I hope everyone involved can find some common ground and return to their own happiness.
Sierra responded on social media to a conversation Danielle and Kaitlyn Bristowe recently had on her podcast, leading Kaitlyn to apologize to her. Has it been resolved?
Paintings: I found myself talking to my girlfriend and it wasn’t fair to talk into something I wasn’t there for. Michael’s relationship with Sierra was resolved before I got there and I feel really bad for hurting her feelings. So just wish her nothing but the best moving forward. I’m really excited to spend the holidays with my guy.
Michael, there has been speculation that you might have been good as The Bachelor. Why was he Paradise better for you?
Allia: For me, time to shoot with Bachelor in Paradise is much less of a commitment and it also seems that the success rate for Bachelor in Paradise more suited what I was looking for. When you’re down at the beach, you spend a lot more time with people. As someone who was on Kat’s season, you can’t spend that much time, and for me, at my age, time is important if you’re trying to really dial in and find that person. When I left Katie’s season I thought it was all behind me and I’m so happy it wasn’t because I found you. You never know where this crazy road leads. Just move on.
Have you spoken recently with Brandon and Serene, who also started their love story this season?
Paintings: I literally haven’t had a second to message them yet because I went to bed at 9 o’clock. I didn’t even watch last night because I knew I had to get up so early to drive. This is literally on my to-do list. I came here, put on my makeup and sat down to talk to you fine people.
Allia: I sent Brandon a message. They are made for each other. They had this magnetism about them from day one and you could feel it. It’s really cool to see how it all plays out on camera. It’s really great to be able to share a piece of our life with everyone. It is simply beautiful.
Paintings: Maybe we’ll take a family trip to Disney! (Laughter.) Mom and Dad and the kids.
Allia: Right! We have no doubt they will be a great couple moving forward.
Interview edited for length and clarity.