This post contains spoilers from Monday's episode of The Bachelor.
Matt James reached the final leg in his journey to find love on Monday night's episode of The Bachelor — but things didn't end the way he had hoped they would.
Matt said in an on-camera interview at the beginning of the episode that he was "all in" with his two finalists, Michelle and Rachael. Matt's mom, Patty, and older brother, John, then joined him at Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, to meet the two women he considered spending the rest of his life with.
"I think it's a long shot that Matt would be engaged at the end of this," Patty told the cameras.
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MICHELLE MEETS MATT’S FAMILY
First, they met Michelle — and Patty started tearing up not long after the elementary school teacher sat down.
"He's a world-changer and that's exactly what I'm looking for," Michelle said of why she loved Matt.
Then John pulled Michelle aside and promised to the cameras that he'd "keep it real" with her. John asked Michelle what she saw in Matt that made him a potential long-term partner and how long ago her last serious relationship lasted. Michelle said it ended in January, but should've been called off sooner because "it became unhealthy."
"My brother legitimately is happy," John said in an on-camera interview. "That's really all I care about."
Next, Michelle spoke with Patty. His mom talked about how Matt always chose friends who had "very strong families." "I felt like I couldn't offer him that but to see that he's grown up to be who he is makes me feel so proud because he has overcome a lot," Patty continued.
Michelle said she didn't see Matt's upbringing as a weakness and reassured, "I am very much in love with your son."
That seemed to have won over Patty. She told Matt that Michelle "couldn't've been sweeter, easier to be around."
Patty added to the cameras, "After Michelle and getting to know her and spending time with her, if things work out with Matt and Michelle, I can totally see her being a part of the family."
Matt felt good about how things went, too. "I'm extremely excited about where we're at in our relationship," he said in an on-camera interview, adding, "Today couldn't have gone any better."
RACHAEL MEETS MATT’S FAMILY
When Rachael met the family, John said he could "definitely see a connection between my brother and Rachael." He asked Rachel how many serious relationships she'd been in and if she'd been in love.
"I've loved people and I've cared for people but I don't think I've ever been truly in love with someone to where I can see my future with him," Rachael said. "This probably sounds crazy but I just feel like he is the other half of me that I've needed."
Patty liked Rachael, too. "She's cute and I like that she feels free to be herself around you," she told Matt. "And I think you feel like you can be yourself around her."
Patty cried again listening to Rachael gush over Matt. "I just want to let you know that I really, really, truly do love your son," Rachael said to Patty.
Later, Patty told Matt she had "nothing but warmth in my heart for those two girls" and asked her son if he could see himself proposing. "Yeah, that's why I came here," he responded. "I've been open-minded this entire journey. I've gotten to this point where there's two women who I have these strong feelings for who I'm falling in love with. And it's like, I have no idea what I'm gonna do."
Patty pressed on whether love meant an engagement or just that Matt could see a future with someone. "There's nothing like being in love. It makes life wonderful," she said. "But you know, people fall in and out of love. And love is not the end all, be all."
That caused Matt to reconsider everything. "I'm starting to pump the breaks on if it's something that I'm ready to commit to right now," he told Chris Harrison of an engagement.
Matt worried about putting Rachael or Michelle in the same position as his mom, and Chris asked if that meant he wouldn't consider proposing.
"I know that the easy thing for me to do would be to tell Rachael and Michelle what they want to hear and [that] is I'm ready and I've been through with this whole process and get down on one knee and do something that I'm not ready for," Matt said. "And then what happens? It sets off our relationship course on something that neither one of us are ready for."
Matt concluded that he'd "continue to stay open-minded about everything" as the process continued.
LAST DATE WITH MICHELLE
"I'm ready to do the real world with Matt," Michelle declared to the cameras before her final date with the Bachelor.
Matt had Michelle close her eyes until they got to the date location and he revealed that they'd be rappelling down the building. Though the duo felt nervous, they knew they had one another nearby for support. "There's this level of comfort that's helping me get to the bottom," Michelle said.
They both made it to the bottom and chatted by a fire, where Michelle asked Matt: "Do you feel like you are able to get to a spot emotionally where you need to be?"
Matt brought up the tough but necessary conversations with his parents. "It definitely had me thinking about everything that I need to consider so that I can make the best decision for us," he said.
To the cameras, Matt admitted, "Michelle is pouring her heart out to me and telling me how assured she is and I don't know where I'm at."
Michelle's certainty carried into the evening portion of their date. "I cannot imagine having anyone else as my teammate at this point. It's you," she told Matt. "It's you that I want and it's really hard to honestly picture me being here without you."
Matt couldn't hide how he felt anymore after Michelle gave him a basketball jersey and pulled out a matching one for her that said "Mrs. James" on the back.
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"I'm just like, having doubts," he told Michelle. "And I shouldn't be having any doubts about that. We're like, a day or two away. This is the first time I've felt any type of thing outside of wanting to be with you forever and having just any doubt in my mind at this point for me is just like, scary. I've been pushing through that feeling today and trying to get there because of how I feel about you and what I know life could look like with you. And I think the easy thing for me to do would be to tell you what you want to hear."
But "that's not what I'm looking for," Michelle said, adding, "It's hard to feel like you have this connection with somebody and then with the flip of a switch it's like, gone."
Matt didn't want her to see it that way. "I don't want you to think of it as a flip of a switch," he said.
They hugged and Matt left. "I'm sorry," he told Michelle before departing.
Matt almost instantly regretted his decision. "Here I am just questioning: Was saying goodbye to her tonight the right thing to do?" he said to Chris. Still, "I wasn't in love with her," Matt confessed.
LAST DATE WITH RACHAEL
In need of more clarity, Matt canceled his final date with Rachael. "I need time to really think about where I'm at with Rachael, what is our relationship built on?" Matt said in an on-camera interview.
That decision left Rachael feeling "hurt and confused." "I was so not expecting that to where he didn't even want to see me today," she told the cameras. "I feel pretty in the dark right now. He never expressed any kind of worry or concern or confusion. Not once. It's like, very blindsiding."
Despite his doubts, Matt proceeded to meet with jeweler Neil Lane. "Maybe I need to hold that ring in my hand," Matt said.
Matt picked out a pear-cut diamond ring. "There's a lot of weight in this," he said of the sparkler. "This is more than just a ring to me. It represents what my father couldn't give to my mother. It represents a lot of broken promises and if I put this ring on Rachael's finger, I would never want it to come off."
Though Matt conceded he still had "some uncertainty," he recognized he owed Rachael answers and asked her to meet him at the lake.
"What I feel now I've never felt before," Matt said. "That's what I came here looking for and that's what I'm holding onto going into this conversation with Rachael. I love Rachael and the more I say it, the more assured I am in that feeling."
MEETING AT THE LAKE
When Matt arrived at the lake, Chris asked if he knew how his journey with Rachael would end. "I think it's all going to come to me when I see her," Matt replied.
Once Rachael and Matt came face-to-face, she started by talking about how she disliked that she didn't get to be with Matt when he felt down.
"I want to be there for you when you're hurting," she said. "And when you're hurting, I'm hurting. And I don't know what happened yesterday, but I do know I'm not going to run just when it gets tough. I don't know if you still want this but regardless, I feel so unbelievably lucky just to have felt what I have felt for you. I never felt a love like this in my entire life and at the end of the day I just want you to be happy, but I just know with all my heart that I love you and I will choose you every day from here on out if you'll let me."
Matt responded by telling Rachael she's "everything that I came here looking for."
"I want to be everything to you, I want to be everything for you that my dad wasn't to my mom," he continued. "And as I'm wrestling with what I'm going to do today, the easy thing for me to do would be to brush those feelings and emotions off and make you happy. That's to propose to you today. But I couldn't live with myself if I put you through what my mom has been through. I've seen what rushing into a proposal, a marriage can do in my family and it's ugly and it's not something I want for you or for us. And that's why I can't propose to you today."
Matt explained, however, that he still wanted to be with Rachael. "When I think about the life I want to live, I think about living that life with you," he said. "And I want to leave here with you. And I want to commit to you and to every day moving on, what we started here. And the truth is that I love you."
"I love you too," Rachael replied.
Matt added that he did see a future with Rachael. "I do see you as my wife," the Bachelor concluded. "I see you as the mother of my kids."
He gave Rachael the final rose and of course, she accepted. Then Matt picked her up and they left together in a horse-drawn carriage.
MATT AND RACHAEL SPLIT
Though the couple was together when the cameras stopped rolling, their relationship came to an end after photos of Rachael attending an antebellum plantation-themed party in 2018 surfaced on social media.
During the After the Final Rose special following the Bachelor finale, Matt revealed to host Emmanuel Acho that he and Rachael had broken up in the wake of the resurfaced images. Last month, she apologized for her racially insensitive actions and declared she'd "continue to learn how to be antiracist."
"As Rachael acknowledged in her apology, there's a lot of work that needs to be done," Matt said. "I have to take a step back and allow her to put in that work. And I'm looking forward to seeing her put in that work."
Matt admitted that he started to "question everything" when the controversy surrounding Rachael began — and didn't initially want to believe the information coming out. But when it turned out to be true, the North Carolina native knew they needed to part ways. "If you don't understand that something like that is problematic in 2018, there's a lot of me that you won't understand," he said of the antebellum-themed party Rachael attended. "It's as simple as that."
Rachael told Emmanuel she "was very confused" when Matt told her he wanted to end their relationship. "I was very blindsided, but once that instant reaction went away, I thought about how strong I thought our relationship was. So for him to end things," she said, "he must've been very, very hurt by everything. It was hard because I lost the love of my life but in the process of that I hurt him while doing so. I love him so much and I always will."
When Rachael and Matt came together on the ATFR couch, she apologized to him, saying, "I'm really sorry."
"When I questioned our relationship, it was on the contexts 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," Matt said to her. "And it broke my heart because this is the last conversation I thought we'd be having. I didn't sign up to have this conversation. And 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 and that's something that you've got to do on your own and that's why we can't be in a relationship."
Though Matt confessed to Rachael that "the feelings that I have for you don't go away overnight," he stood firm on staying single. "The work and reconciliation that needs to be done is work that I can't do for you," Matt continued. "And I know that you're capable of doing it."
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