Christina Dugan
February 14, 2017 12:00 PM

 

The Bachelor‘s Rachel Lindsay has a new path to love, but the steps that led her here certainly weren’t always easy.

Monday’s news that Lindsay had been cast as the first black Bachelorette in franchise history also took fans by surprise by revealing that Lindsay would not receive the final rose from leading man Nick Viall.

“I was definitely heartbroken over the situation,” Lindsay, 31, exclusively tells PEOPLE of her breakup with Viall, 36. “I didn’t expect it. I didn’t think it would end that way for me.”

But, she continues, “Time heals all. Since then, I’ve been able to get back into work and be with family and friends, I’ve moved on from it. My biggest thing is, I just want Nick to be happy. If he’s found that with someone else, then that makes me happy too.”

Lindsay first captured the hearts of fans after Viall gave her the First Impression Rose on the show’s season 21 premiere.

Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty

“It was crazy just how easy it was to be myself around Rachel,” Viall previously wrote in his exclusive PEOPLE blog. “As clichéd as it sounds, it was like we had known one another for years, but she still took my breath away.”

At the time, Lindsay seemingly felt the same.

“I’m somebody who can feel a connection from the beginning, but in this process I was pretty skeptical,” the Texas native says. “So I did think that I would feel that with feel that with Nick. I was really shocked from our first meeting, I was like, ‘Hey there’s something about this guy. I’m surprised. I like him.’ I could feel the energy between us.”

Despite the intense, immediate connection, Lindsay admits that as their relationship continued to grow, Nick was ultimately “looking for something else.”

“I didn’t necessarily doubt what we had, I still thought that I could be the one in the end,” she says.

Instead of receiving the final rose and Nick’s heart, Lindsay has been given the opportunity to find love all over again — but this time, she’s in the driver’s seat.

The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET), and Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette premieres May 22, both on ABC.

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