‘Love Is Blind’s Zanab & Cole Talk Bachelor Party Betrayal, Wedding Shocker

Zanab Jaffrey and Cole Barnett in 'Love Is Blind'
Spoiler Alert
Netflix

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the Love Is Blind Season 3 finale and reunion.]

Are we surprised by how Zanab Jaffrey and Cole Barnett‘s wedding turned out in the Love Is Blind finale? Maybe not, but Cole was. He tells TV Insider that in hindsight, Zanab’s brutal callout of him at the altar was “valid.” And as for Zanab, she has no regrets.

Zanab and Cole made it to the altar after weeks of passive aggressive fighting, harsh words from Cole that he somehow saw no issue with, and even a misogynistic ranking of the women given at Zanab’s unfathomable request. There was plenty of drama on-screen, but according to Zanab, tons of unseen footage shows even more of their discord.

Through it all, the two somehow still had love for each other, leading them to follow through with their nuptials that Cole’s family refused to attend (Zanab tells us that to this day, there’s been “not a peep” of contact from his parents). Zanab’s vows came first at the altar. Before she spoke, it seemed that Cole was a shoo-in to say “I do.” Then came a searing rejection from Zanab.

Zanab Jaffrey and Cole Barnett in 'Love Is Blind'

Netflix

“I think I have a really good idea about the type of woman that is going to love you the way Cole needs to be loved every day for the rest of your life, and I think you and I both know that that is not me. As much as I have wanted it to be me and have tried to manipulate myself to be that person for you, the last two months have not been picture perfect,” she said before their guests.

“You have disrespected me, you have insulted me, you have critiqued me, and for what it is worth, you have single-handedly shattered my self-confidence. And I hate that you have had that kind of effect on me,” she went on, holding nothing back. “And the messed up thing is I know I love you, but everything in me in the logical part of my brain tells me that love shouldn’t feel this way. Love shouldn’t hurt like that. I can’t marry you, and I don’t. You are a good man, and I know that about you. I wish I could’ve had more of that, I really do.”

Zanab’s side of the aisle applauded her as she walked back up it, but suffice to say the comments were unexpected.

As she walked back to her bridal suite with a friend by her side, she tearfully said, “I really didn’t want to be ugly, but he also had to be freaking told some things. I hope he doesn’t do this to another woman, because it’s not fair.”

“Why has she never said that to my face? She chose now because she knew it would hurt more in front of all my friends and family,” Cole told the cameras in the aftermath. “She had me fooled big time. I knew we were not perfect but that? It’s one of the worst experiences of my life.”

Long after being put on blast, Cole says he understands where Zanab came from, sharing with us that they have since talked things out (exactly when that talk happened is unclear).

“Now that we’ve talked about it, yeah. I totally understand. [It’s] completely valid, the way that she would feel. I’ve had a lot of owning the things that I said and stuff like that to do. It’s been a journey, but we are on much better terms now.”

Zanab doesn’t echo that sentiment. In our interview with Cole, he implied his dynamic with Zanab was amicable. But Zanab doesn’t so much as follow Cole on Instagram, while he still follows her. In separate talks with Zanab, she was still steadfastly critical of Cole while simultaneously self-aware of what she feels she could’ve done differently this season.

“Hundreds of hours of filming, lots of time spent not filming,” is what drove her to her wedding-day decision, she tells TV Insider. “I think our conflict resolution had gone really well and great” throughout the season, she notes, “but we did speak before the wedding and talked about where we were both at.”

As discussed in the Love Is Blind Season 3 reunion, streaming now, Cole added insult to injury when hitting on another woman at his bachelor party. Zanab tells us Cole revealed that to her during this talk just before the wedding, but it wasn’t seen in the episode.

Cole Barnett and Zanab Jaffrey in 'Love Is Blind'

Netflix

“He shared with me something that happened at the bachelor party, which was him trying to kiss a girl and get a girl’s number,” she says. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back after weeks of “constant disrespect.”

“Every time I would see a glimmer of hope, he would show me that it wasn’t there,” Zanab continues. “So I was pretty much sold on a no. I had no idea what I was gonna say. I knew I wanted to be clear about what I was saying, and so when I got up there, I just really spoke from the heart. I blacked out afterwards. I was like, ‘What did I say? ‘Cause I don’t remember.’ Watching it back I was like, ‘Oh, OK, well not wrong.'”

Viewers never got to learn Cole’s answer to the marriage question. Would he have said “I do?” “If Zanab would’ve said yes, it most likely would’ve been a yes,” he reveals to us. “And if they would’ve asked me first, I’m not sure what I would’ve said. But I was expecting us to continue dating beyond the wedding day — it’s what we had talked about. I was hopeful that we could get married, but I mean it was just so fast. I don’t know if we were really ready for it.”

Does he think their age difference was a core issue in the end? “No, I don’t think so. I think that was more so something that came across in the show, but in our actual relationship it wasn’t at all a factor.”

Zanab wishes Cole would have learned that “brutal honesty” wasn’t needed; there’s gentler ways to communicate the truth — and when it comes to love, tender care should always be priority (Bartise Bowden would do well to learn the same lesson, says Nancy Rodriguez in our after-the-altar interview). She also reveals she confronted Cole about his “disrespectful” comments and gave him an out before they returned to Dallas.

“He could have definitely worked on his delivery numerous times, especially on our flight back from Malibu, which of course doesn’t get shown,” Zanab explains. “I did tell him, ‘I don’t accept disrespect in relationships. I’ve never been so disrespected in a relationship before. We’re engaged; you’re my fiance. You disrespected another couple [Matt Bolton and Colleen Reed]. If you don’t see this ending in an I do, let’s just tap out. We’re going home to Dallas. We can both go home and go back to our lives.’ And he verbalized wanting to get back to the pods. I wanted that too. The hopeless romantic woman that wanted to be married wanted to get back to that.”

Colleen Reed and Cole Barnett in 'Love Is Blind'

Netflix

“There were times we did have very real conversations, like walking out after the bipolar thing. I was done. He came out after me. We did talk, because I was done. We were constantly, I think, trying to just fight to get back” to that feeling in the pods, she shares.

With time and distance to reflect, would they do anything differently? Cole gives a big yes.

“I would not have said the comments that I made to Colleen in the pool, and I would’ve never rated any of the girls,” he admits. “I can’t believe I decided to answer that question. Zanab asked me to rate the girls, and I guess I did. I wouldn’t ever do that again, for sure.”

As for Zanab, she says she didn’t rise to the occasion of living with someone for the first time well, saying she could have had “a little bit more grace for Cole and his age. I’ve never lived with anyone, so having someone in your face 24/7, it was full send.” She wishes she had been “a bit more lenient on roommate things and just be like, ‘Hey, that’s the man I love.'”

Love Is Blind, Season 3, Streaming Now, Netflix