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Golden Bachelorette Joan Reveals the Thing She’ll ‘Never’ Do for Love

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Joan Vassos isn’t prepared to do anything for love. In her first interview since being announced as the first-ever lead of The Golden Bachelorette, the 61-year-old school administrator revealed what she’d never do for a man.

“I think you almost have to live a dual life. I’ll never leave my family. They are the most important people in the world to me, obviously, and I would expect that to be the same for the person that I end up with, because family is so important to me, that would have to be a key part of their personality,” Joan told CNN. “You have to be willing to… travel and be with that person and maybe spend a couple of months or a couple of weeks at a time… and then maybe eventually, you figure out a destination that would work for you and your families or have another house where everybody gets together.”

When it comes to her family, the Maryland-based single is a mom of four and grandmother of two.

“My first and third children are very into this. They think it’s really fun and, like, what a cool experience for Mom,” Joan said. “My daughter Erica and my son Luke are a little cringey. Like, ‘Don’t kiss a guy on TV. This is gonna be really embarrassing. My friends are watching.’ But overall, all of them want me to find love.”

Joan’s journey for love started after her husband of 32 years died. Two years later, she saw a casting notice for The Golden Bachelor the same night that she lamented the challenges of dating in her golden years while out to eat with a pal.

“I did not want to spend my life alone, so I knew that I had to take action, but my heart wasn’t there at all. I was saying to my friend, ‘How in the world do you date now? Look around this restaurant. Everybody here is a couple. Everybody my age is married. All my friends are married,'” she recalled, before stating of the casting notice, “I was like, ‘The universe is talking to me.'”

Eventually, she landed a role on the show, vying for Gerry Turner‘s heart.

“I learned so much from him about opening up your heart and being vulnerable,” Joan said of Gerry, whom she decided to leave amid health concerns for her daughter.

“I left that day knowing it was completely the right decision,” Joan said, “and I got on to that airplane and thought, ‘This journey is completely over.'”

But, Joan said she “still had unfinished business,” a sentiment she expressed after departing the series.

“Once a mom always a mom and sometimes the timing doesn’t work out with finding love,” she wrote on Instagram at the time. “Everyone at home is doing great and I hope one day I will get the chance at love again.”

With that in mind, when ET spoke to Joan at the “Women Tell All” taping, she said simply of The Golden Bachelorette, “I think I’d say yes.”

Now, she’s done just that and is gearing up to lead the inaugural season of The Golden Bachelorette.

“I almost felt like I was floating over my body. It was kind of surreal,” she told CNN of landing the role, before sharing what she hopes her love story can show others.

“I think there’s cultures in the world that revere the older people and they think that they have knowledge and they have this experience of life, and I don’t think that’s super true in our society,” she said. “So, I think (The Golden Bachelor) showed the side of, we’re not old. We don’t have canes. Some people on the show had hearing aids, but nobody could even see they had them. Growing old now is very different. We were all very fit, we exercised, we shared great stories about raising our kids and we learned so much from each other.”

“There’s a lot of knowledge that we have inside of us because we’ve lived life,” Joan added. “In our culture, I feel like growing old is not a dignified thing. You’re just supposed to kind of fade in the back, take a backseat to the next generation. I’m hoping that we change that a little bit. We’re still fun and energetic and we know how to use our phones.”

As for how she hopes her journey ends, Joan said that she is open to any possibility.

“If it ends up in engagement, I’m open to that. I do believe this process works. I’ve seen it work for so many couples on The Bachelor, so I believe in the process,” she said. “If it ends up in engagement, that’s great. If it ends up in, you and I are going to get to know each other better in the outside world, that’s perfect also.”

“I probably won’t rush into a marriage right away — and not only because of what happened with Gerry and Theresa (Nist),” Joan continued of The Golden Bachelor‘s final couple, who called it quits three months after tying the knot. “I think it takes some time to really get to know somebody out in the wild, in the real world, you need to spend some time there.”

The Golden Bachelorette will air Wednesdays this fall on ABC.

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