Rachael Kirkconnell Calls Matt James the 'Love of My Life' After Split

Rachael Kirkconnell still believes Matt James is the love of her life after their breakup. During Monday’s Bachelor  finale, Rachael and Matt ended the show in a committed relationship, but not engaged. That was short-lived, though. On the After the Final Rose special, Matt revealed he broke things off with Rachael in the wake of her racism controversy.

Following the breakup reveal, Rachael took to Instagram to reflect on her time on the show, her failed relationship with Matt, and her hopes for the future.

“Just when you think you found your way, life throws you onto a new path. it’s unpredictable, unexplainable, and things might not go the way you hoped for. while i certainly wish things turned out differently, i also believe there is a reason for everything,” she began. “We may not be able to control situations thrown our way, but we can control how we deal with it, and i believe good can come out every circumstance.”

Rachael continued by writing how this season of the show, with its first Black Bachelor, was supposed to be “monumental,” but instead was “overshadowed” by the reveal of her past actions, which came to light in January and she has since apologized for. First, a TikTok user accused the graphic designer of previously bullying her for dating Black men. Then, another user accused Rachael of liking racist photos. Pics have also surfaced of her at an Old South plantation-themed party while in college.

“One of the biggest disappointments has been the overshadowing of these beautiful women and their stories. they are some of the strongest, most brilliant, most extraordinary women and i was lucky enough to have met them,” she wrote of the other contestants. “You all deserve more, but i promise to always stand by and support each of you in any way i can.”

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She then moved on to Matt, writing that she knew “from the first night i met matt that he was something special, and i was praying to share something exceptional between the two of us if that’s what was meant to be.”

“While i never expected this outcome, i respect his decision completely,” she wrote. “Of course i wish circumstances were different, but i still feel blessed for the time we did have together and the memories we made. i got to fall in love, and i truly believe he was the love of my life. he will always hold a piece of my heart. i’ll always be hopeful and believe what’s meant to be will be.”

On After the Final Rose, Matt explained why he could no longer be with Rachael after the controversy, even as she told him that she doesn’t “see how I can have these same feelings for someone else.”

“When I questioned our relationship, it was in the context of you not fully understanding my Blackness, and what it means to be a Black man in America, and what it would mean for our kids when I saw those things that were floating around the internet,” he said. “…I knew that I had to take a step back for you to put in that work that you outlined that you needed to do. That’s something that you gotta do on your own, and that’s why we can’t be in a relationship.”

As for what she hopes comes out of all of this, Rachael wrote on Instagram that she wants the controversy to spark “conversations and a level of understanding.”

“I hope it opens your mind to unlearning bias, to educating yourself, and gives you the push to initiate change. there are so many actions you can take, but i believe it starts within the small corners of your life, and having these conversations with those around you,” she wrote. “It can’t happen overnight and will be a never-ending ride, but i encourage you to take the leap and make a difference. we can change the world, together. i love you all and here’s to new beginnings.”

Follow along with ET’s coverage of the Bachelor finale and the After the Final Rose special here.

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