The 30-year-old reality star, who faced down — was absolved of — allegations of sexual misconduct with cast mate Corinne Olympios on the first day of filming for Bachelor in Paradise‘s fourth season, ultimately declined the chance to return once production resumed. And now he admits there was one big reason he nearly considered staying.
“To be completely honest, I wanted to go back solely for Alexis [Waters, from Nick Viall’s season],” Jackson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It broke me down into tears, thinking I met this dope ass girl in Paradise and that she was going to find someone else.”
Despite his connection with the 24-year-old New Jersey native, Jackson explains that returning “wasn’t mentally or physically right.”
“I lost 25 pounds,” he continues to THR. “I hadn’t been sleeping. And I didn’t want to be under the microscope. And I didn’t want it to be The DeMario Show. Everyone would be watching my every move and I wanted it to be natural and organic. I wanted them to be there and have fun. It would have been different if I had been there.”
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Since the show began airing earlier this week, Jackson admits, “Watching it, you have no idea the amount of FOMO I had! But I was so happy because all of my friends are happy.”
And that’s exactly what he considers Waters, a friend.
“We’re just taking it day by day,” he says. “She’s been my rock through all of this, my comedy relief. We went to Disneyland last week. She’s been there through a very dark time. Nothing sexual or intimate, just being there.”
And now, less than three months after the scandal erupted, Jackson says taking any romantic relationship to the next level — whether with Waters or someone else — is not high on his list of priorities.
“I have a lot of baggage. I would be doing an injustice to any woman right now,” he acknowledges. “I don’t want to bring a very innocent woman into a very hostile situation. I don’t think that would work too much.”
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.