As Love Is Blind fans are still reeling from the finale and reunion special, Zanab Jaffrey got candid about her complicated relationship with Cole Barnett — and how he affected how she felt about herself.
“I did love him. The things he was saying to me did hurt. I was somehow trying to make myself desirable to him, whether it be skinnier, or…” the 32-year-old flight attendant told Variety on Wednesday, November 9, taking a breath and pausing before she continued speaking. “I’ve never had someone speak to me that way about my body or eating. That was very real for me. I did change what I was eating. I was just eating a banana. I did lose weight by the wedding day. It had nothing to do with fitting into my wedding dress.”
During Wednesday’s reunion, Zanab called it Cole’s “saving grace” that the Netflix series didn’t include all of their tense moments. She then alleged that her then-fiancé pushed food away from her, tried to “control” what she ate and made “daily comments about [her] face and body [that] were not used.”
When he denied her claims, she added: “And that’s great because it really did protect you and you are now denying it and calling me a liar in front of all these people.”
Following several references to the “cuties’ story,” the LIB reunion concluded with the previously unaired scene in which Cole reminded Zanab that they are having a “big ‘ole supper tonight” as she ate two clementines. During the scene, he also seemed confused when she said she hadn’t eaten anything but a banana all day, noting that he offered her a poke bowl.
While speaking to Variety, Zanab reacted to another moment that has made waves among viewers — Cole’s comment that he knew someone named Zanab wouldn’t look like his past girlfriends.
“Everyone heard it. Even watching it back, I was like, wow, I really didn’t hear that like everyone else heard it. I’ve gotten hundreds of messages like what you just said: ‘He’s saying this,’” she said, referring to the implication that Cole previously only dated white women. “In the heat of that moment, I didn’t necessarily hear it. But we’d had conversations about women he previously dated. There were many conversations about how I did not look like it or live up to it.”
She added that she’s “doing great” months after turning Cole down at the altar.
“I did leave that relationship broken. I was devastated not to get married. I was sad that I had this great love and it didn’t result in a healthy relationship that turned into a happy marriage,” the reality star explained. “I recognized some stuff on myself that I was like, ‘Wow, I need to go build myself back up. I used to be a words of affirmation person. I need to do that. I need reassurance. I need to get back to myself and encourage myself.’ So that’s really what I’ve done for the last year. I did go to therapy after the wedding, because I was like, ‘When this comes out, I’m going to have to revisit this and I don’t want to be slingshotted back to how low I feel right now.’ I’ve been in therapy for a year, and I’ll probably continue going to therapy because I think therapy is wonderful.”
Zanab concluded: “I’ve just taken all that that relationship taught me and truly just been so selfish this year and poured into myself and loved myself hard and gave myself those affirmations because I never want to be in that low of a space in a relationship ever again. I just want to give my healthiest, happiest self to someone.”