Peter Kraus
Credit: Ray Tamarra/GC Images

Dating is hard. And when the entire country has watched you fall in love — and then go through a traumatic breakup — on TV, it can be even harder. At least that’s the case for Peter Kraus, the fan-favorite contestant who made it to the final two when he vied for Rachel Lindsay’s heart on The Bachelorette in 2017. After telling Rachel that he loved her but wasn’t ready to propose, Kraus packed his bags. Fans of the franchise swiftly called for producers to tap the Wisconsin-based personal trainer as the next Bachelor, a rose-filled dream that never became reality (though Kraus hasn’t ruled the possibility out entirely…more on that below).

Now, Kraus is trying to find love just like the rest of us — on dating apps. But after his last relationship played out very publicly onscreen, swiping right isn’t quite as easy as it used to be. The health-conscious former model recently stopped by InStyle’s New York City offices to discuss teaming up with natural skincare brand Kamedis (he credits the products with “completely stopping” his acne and rosacea), and he explained the challenges that come with searching for romance post-reality stardom – especially on platforms where the pool of prospective paramours likely includes a few #BachelorNation fans.

“It’s harder to know what someone’s intentions are or what their knowledge of me is,” said Kraus. “I'm on Bumble, and in one of the messages that I got, the very first thing was, ‘Holy F— you're Peter Kraus; I can't wait to tell my friends.’ And like, right then, it's like, ahh. Weird.”

Despite encountering the occasional fangirl on Bumble — and receiving a steady influx of “a few dozen” Instagram DMs every day — Kraus hasn’t given up on finding love in the digital world. In fact, he’s still optimistic about meeting someone on a dating app. “I hope so, but because I’m traveling a lot, more than likely I would meet someone in another city versus in Madison,” he said, explaining that he’s ideally looking for “someone who's just flexible and secure — which is another hard thing, I guess, because people know that I'm traveling a lot and in the public eye for certain things.”

Being comfortable with Kraus’s lifestyle may be important, but good conversation is everything. His biggest dating deal-breaker? “Silence — that’s really hard,” he said. “Especially because I can talk a mile a minute. My mom has said before, ‘Well, what if she's just nervous?’ Which is fair, but then if the second date is still in silence, maybe it's not right.” Another red flag? “Don't be, like, five or six drinks in when you show up to a date — I've had that happen, too.” he said. “Years ago, I went on a second date in Chicago, and the girl showed up super drunk and was like, ‘Hey, I just came from a house party. We should go back there afterwards.’ Yeah … that was the last date.” Keep reading for eight additional revelations from our chat.

On hitting on someone at the gym… “I've always thought it was a horrible thing — and I’ve been told that it was a horrible thing,” he said. “But it really depends on the person that you're talking to. I have a bunch of female friends that are in fitness, and I think they’re split 50-50 on it. If you go up to someone and you're kind and courteous, then it's okay. But if she has to remove her headphones to talk to you, it's a no go. You know that girl's serious about it. Like, don't walk up to her. You've got to be mindful. I would not approach somebody at the gym, I never have.”

On the sexiest outfit a woman can wear… “Yoga pants, a chunky sweater, and a high pony,” said Kraus. “That’s what I'm going to notice someone walking down the street wearing. It says, ‘I'm comfortable in who I am so I don't have to wear something that's super tight or revealing or flashy. But I also am into fitness — which you can tell by my legs — and I can pull off being very casual.’ A high pony is a little more dressy. And then for a date, heels always look good. Probably the best first date I ever went on, she wore a really nice pea coat, and for whatever reason, I always remember that outfit: a long pea coat with big shiny buttons and really nice nails. She had very simple, nude colored nails. I really liked her.”

On his own date night attire…“Casual, but nice,” said Kraus. “I don't really have any dress clothes — it's either suits or it’s my gym attire. So, finding something in the middle is definitely tough for me. … I’ve got all the suits from the show, though. They’re custom made. Well, two of them are tuxedos, so the one that I wore on opening night and the one that I wore on After the Final Rose. There's no place in Madison to wear that. I'd have to go to like a gala or a ball — and that happens once a year.”

On being a local celebrity… “I feel like my life is slowly getting back to kind of like the normalcy that it was before, but Madison is a small place,” he said. “It’s not a big city like New York, where there are real celebrities. Everybody knows my face, so when I go someplace new that I don't typically go to, people notice me, I guess. They ask for a picture, ask a question or two, and then move on.”

On how his modeling career prepared him for The Bachelorette“My modeling days made me more comfortable in front of the camera, so when I was on the show itself, I had more of a sense of ease,” said Kraus. “In the beginning, it was very nerve-wracking — more so because you’re on a date with somebody you don't know, and then when you're kissing that person, the cameras are starting to pull in closer. That gets a little weird.”

The Bachelorette Finale
Credit: Paul Hebert via Getty

On whether or not he’d ever go on a Bachelor spinoff… “Probably not,” Kraus said of starring on Bachelor in Paradise or Bachelor Winter Games. “If I was going to go back into the franchise, it would probably be as the Bachelor — but there are a lot of things about being the Bachelor that I'm not necessarily a fan of. I feel like you need more help at the end of the show – for a relationship that was built in such a short period of time, under such pressure, and with every eye on you, you’re not really supported. I would at least want backing from, say, a marriage counselor or a relationship counselor that could help us through that hardship.”

On finding lifelong friends among his Bachelorette competitors… “Dean [Unglert] is like a best friend until the day I die,” said Kraus. “I still talk to Alex [Bordyukov], Will [Gaskins], Iggy [Rodriguez], and Diggy [Moreland] probably on a weekly basis. The relationships that you build on the show are so deep because you make them as an adult, which is very unusual, and then you're all put in this very awkward situation that no one else truly understands. And they're like, ‘Oh, I get you.’"

"The weird part happens when your friends start to whittle down. Dean and I were top four, and it was like, ‘This guy’s competing for the same girl that I'm falling in love with. Do I put friendship first or this relationship?’ You always have to put the relationship first, so he and I talked less and less towards the end there. It wasn’t in a bad way or anything — it was, you do yours, I'll do mine. The funny thing was that we still had to sleep in the same bed. So Dean and I had to share a California king size bed in Geneva. We put a pillow right in the middle. The closer the quarters, the more stressed you are. But the bonds you make on that show, when you see our friendships portrayed on social media after the fact, they're definitely real relationships.”

On why he doesn’t host his own podcast about dating… “I've gone on Dean's podcast and Ben [Higgins] and Ashley [Iaconetti]'s, but I'm better at answering questions than coming up with material,” Kraus admitted. “If you ask me a question, I can probably go on forever. But that’s just not really my thing. I prefer to be present with people, in-person, feeding off of their energy, and hopefully they feed off my energy. Hopefully we can all get along and have a good conversation that's more banter versus just speaking at someone.”