The Bachelor star Matt James has spoken out about his breakup with Rachael Kirkconnell, saying that right now he can't "think about being in a relationship with anybody." James sat down with GMA's Michael Strahan for a virtual interview and opened up about the end to the controversial season of The Bachelor, explaining that he thinks "there's a lot of work that needs to be done" on his part. "I need time to process everything that's going on. I want to respect Rachael and what she's gotta do as well."
James also spoke respectfully of Kirkconnell, saying, "I know that Rachael's a good person and everything she outlined in her apology and her statement, I'm looking forward to seeing her do because I know she's capable of it." During the season, photos of Kirkconnell previously attending an antebellum-themed party surfaced, prompting her to apologize. Longtime Bachelor host Chris Harrison defended her over the photos, which resulted in backlash and Harrison taking a hiatus from the franchise. It was later announced that Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will host Season 17 of The Bachelorette. In response, James says, "As the love stories become more diverse the people that tell them should become just as diverse. I'm excited to see the institutional change take place and I'm honored to be a part of it."
“The conversations that have come from everything that’s taken place are more important than anything I could’ve left with.” @mattjames919 talks about the emotional ending of his @BachelorABC season. https://t.co/CyqusvKxxI pic.twitter.com/If5tPBaTLa— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 16, 2021
As far as offering an explanation on why he chose to end his relationship with Kirkconnell, James said, "When you find out the things I did, it deters you from that ultimate goal because — like I stated during After the Final Rose — there's just things that you might not understand what it means to be with someone like me." He also shared what he was feeling during the post-finale special. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt the weight of everything that I was carrying throughout the season and with what we were dealing with as a country and having to explain that, why I think it's problematic to me and our relationship, which was extremely difficult."
For her part, Kirkconnell has said that she did not see the breakup coming. "My initial reaction was I was very confused. I was very blindsided," she said during ATFR. "But once that initial reaction went away, I thought about, you know, how strong I thought our relationship was. So for him to end things, like, he must have been very, very hurt by everything. It was hard, because I lost the love of my life."