Last year, Ben Higgins sent shockwaves through Bachelor Nation when he told JoJo Fletcher and Lauren Bushnell — two of his final three hoping for a rose and a ring — that he was falling in love with both of them.
“I fell in love with two women, and I didn’t know I was capable of that,” Luyendyk Jr., 36, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “I’ve never been in that situation, and it was really hard. And they were two very different women, and that’s what made it even harder.”
The former race-car driver admits to shedding some tears over the complicated situation.
“I didn’t know I was really capable of having strong feelings and being in love with more than one person, but that happened. The end was really difficult for me. And I think that it’s because it’s such a huge decision, and it’s my life,” he adds. “But I’m happy, and I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
- Watch People Features: Meet the New Bachelor: Arie Luyendyk, Jr., available now, on PeopleTV. Go to PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device.
And in the end, Luyendyk Jr. says he understands why he felt strong connections to such different women, explaining that he’s “never really dated the same type of person” outside of The Bachelor, either.
- For more on Arie’s journey, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
Of the 29 potential wives vying for his heart, he says, “There were so many different types of women and so many different personalities … but there was a common thread in all those relationships. I think I learned that I can be very open and that I can be attracted to a lot of different types of people.”
Today, “I’m very happy,” he says. “I have no regrets. It was an amazing experience.”
The Bachelor premieres Jan. 1, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.