Cast of ‘The Ultimatum,’ Netflix’s new reality show: ‘It’s absolutely crazy’

Absence makes the heart grow fonder … or not.

On Netflix’s jaw-dropping new reality dating series “The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On” (premiering Wednesday, April 6), six couples temporarily split up from their partner to date other people — even going as far as living with someone else. At the end of the ordeal, they must decide if they’re ready to get back together with their original partner … or if they felt sparks with someone else, and want to move on. Not surprisingly, the show was created by the same geniuses behind “Love Is Blind,” and, like that series, is hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey.

“It was weird, it was a very unique experience,” Lauren Pounds, 30, a bartender from Austin, Texas (like everyone on the show), told The Post of being on the show. “After two and a half years of being in a relationship, getting thrown back in the dating pool is an awkward thing. It’s so unnatural. you go [on the show] in a committed relationship, and they break you up and put you on speed-dating. And you’re visibly seeing your person on a date with someone else. And then you’re separated from them, and not allowed to talk, and then you have to move in with some stranger… it’s absolutely crazy.”

“The Ultimatum” features couple Lauren and Nate (left) and fellow couple Hunter and Alexis (right).
Nick and Vanessa Lachey are the hosts of "The Ultimatum."
Nick and Vanessa Lachey are the hosts of “The Ultimatum.”
ILANA PANICH-LINSMAN/NETFLIX

Lauren went on “The Ultimatum” with Nate, her boyfriend who she’s known in some capacity for more than a decade. Nate wants kids, but Lauren is leaning toward a child-free life.

“It wasn’t a hard no or a hard yes, it was just something that I felt like I needed to explore a bit more,” she said. “So going on there, I had the thought that I was going to somehow miraculously figure that out with someone else. I wanted to marry him, and he wanted to marry me, and it was just the children thing, which was so frustrating, because everything else in our relationship was very good.”

Lauren didn’t enjoy watching Nate go on dates with other girls on the show, however, and she even ended some days crying in the shower.

Zay (left) and Rae, another couple on "The Ultimatum."
Zay (left) and Rae, another couple on “The Ultimatum.”
Randall, left, and Shanique, another couple on "The Ultimatum."
Randall (left) and Shanique, another couple on “The Ultimatum.”

“The way that the dates were set up, I was sitting talking to another guy, whose girlfriend was sitting and talking to Nathan just a few feet away. So I got really emotional… and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is awful. This is unnatural, you’re not supposed to see your partner on a date with someone else whose partner you’re on a date with, too. It was really messy. I was like, ‘What did I get us into?’”

Spoiler alert — Lauren and Nate ended up leaving the show early, and pulling the plug on the whole endeavor. “I think that by dating other people, I realized, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want to be in this scene again,’ she said. “The whole time, I was comparing everything to Nathan, and I was like, ‘I have a good person, I really don’t want to go through this again, I don’t want to be single.’ And I found my person, I just need to work on my problems specifically with him, and not focus on other people.”

April Marie, 24, and a corporate recruiter, went on the show because her boyfriend of two years, Jake Cunningham, 26, had been dragging his feet when it came to settling down.

She said going on dates with other people was a “fun experience.”

“I’m a people person, and it opened my shell to that flirty butterfly feeling again. It was fun to see, ‘This is what it would be like without Jake,’” she said.

Jake Cunningham and April Marie sit on a couch.
Jake (left) and April went on “The Ultimatum,” to find common ground.

But, it also hurt April to watch Jake being single and mingling.

“At the back of my mind, seeing Jake have fun… was definitely regretful at the time of filming. So it was a very uncomfortable three weeks of dating [someone else], and trying to do outreach to Jake and talk to him, but we weren’t seeing eye to eye. It did feel a bit traumatizing, like, ‘What did I do?’”

But, during the three weeks that April spent living with another guy on the show, she was able to find clarity.

"The Ultimatum" guys Randall, Hunter, and Zay toast to their newly single lives.
“The Ultimatum” guys Randall, Hunter, and Zay toast to their newly single lives.
JODY DOMINGUE/NETFLIX

“That experience was the time of my life,” she said. “Dating [the other guy], we were doing something every day, and every night it was something new. I was like, ‘This is what a relationship should feel like. A relationship should be adventurous.’ That was my takeaway. ‘I want this feeling now, and I want this feeling even after leaving the show.’ So the relationship [with the other guy] was mostly about me finding myself.”

In the end, she said, she’s grateful that she went on “The Ultimatum.”

“It was the hardest three months of my life,” she said. “But sometimes you need a hard lesson to learn what you need.”

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