“This didn’t end the way I wanted it to,” Pieper tells PEOPLE. “I thought Blakeley was the love of my life.”
Pieper, who competed for Emily Maynard‘s heart on The Bachelorette, met Jones, from Ben Flajnik‘s season of The Bachelor, on the third installment of Bachelor Pad. The pair became partners, cozied up on several romantic dates and by the finale, Pieper shocked fans and viewers by proposing with a Neil Lane engagement ring.
Soon after, Jones moved to Pieper’s native Portland where the trouble began.
“It was like a fairy tale at first when we were on the show and afterward,” he says. “It was like a vacation – we were in the honeymoon stage. Then when she moved here, it was really difficult for both of us. Blakeley had to start over a new life – there were so many stresses. The honeymoon stage drifted away. We were both going through the motions and we weren’t as happy as we could have been. It was a mutual decision [to end our relationship].”
But they did try to make things work: “We had a counseling session,” he says.
Since the split, first reported by Wetpaint.com, Jones has moved home.
“I really hope we’ll stay friends,” Pieper says. “Right now, it’s really hard. But I’ll always love her.”