Theories abound about what happened between Desiree Hartsock and her remaining trio of suitors during The Bachelorette finale, which is so dramatic that it had to be broken into two parts.
While she wouldn’t even give us a hint about the tear-inducing twist when PEOPLE sat down with her exclusively at the Men Tell All taping, the L.A. resident and bridal stylist did dish on plenty of other topics.
How’d it feel to be reunited with many of the men you sent packing?
Because I’ve been on the other side and know how this day felt for me when I got to talk to Sean, I feel closure for them more than for me. Especially for Zak. When I sent him home, he wasn’t ready for it, and he probably went home shocked and hurt. I knew that there would be more I’d need to address now that he’s had a few months to think about it. I was glad I was able to and glad that he was able to express his feelings as well.
Speaking of Zak, he said you left him in a "very dark place" regarding love.
I didn’t get to see any of the taping other than when I was out there so I don’t know exactly what was said. But Zak being in a dark place is very hard to hear because that’s never what I wanted for any of the guys. I didn’t want to hurt them.
I was hoping they’d be able to see that there were other relationships that were progressing faster or that some people were overall a better fit for me. I was hoping that in watching the show air maybe they would learn more about why I made the decisions I did. I always tried to make the best decisions for me and to accomplish what I wanted out of the show because I was here looking for love.
He left the show in the same runner-up slot as you, so maybe he will get to be the new Bachelor. Would he make a good one?
The slot worked out for me. He’d be the best. He’s fun. He’s thoughtful and he’s ready [to fall in love and get married], which is key.
And he’s very willing to strip down.
There you go. We definitely need a Bachelor who is willing to get naked to find love!
Looking back, is there anything you wish you would have done differently or someone you wished you’d kept longer?
Not really, because from day one I was trying to take each moment and each day as they happened and I tried to step away from the fantasy of the show to figure out who I could see myself with after the show was over; who would fit best in the life I want. The only goal I had coming in was to make my own decisions and not get influenced by the fancy dates, other guys or even producers. And I am still confident in all the decisions I made.
Did you meet that goal?
Yes. I don’t feel like I ever let the guys lead my decisions. I listened to what they had to say and weighed their comments because I had been on the other side of that type of situation when Sean kept keeping Tierra and we all knew she was bad news. So I knew there was value in listening to what they had to say. But I made the final call. That’s why I took the extra day to handle the James situation. I didn’t want these emotional and competitive guys to affect my opinions.
It must be hard to know what their motivations are.
It’s really hard to know what the guys really feel and what their motivations might be for saying and doing things. That’s why you have to picture them in your life day-to-day and ask, “Okay, is this gonna work? Could we go to Costco together? Would I want to vacation with this person? Would they be a good dad and husband?”
And what is your Costco style?
When I shop, I’m fast and I know where I’m going. I am in and out. I don’t stroll the aisles. I don’t like to be in crowds, so I have a list and I stick to it and move on. Honestly, if anyone sees me in the grocery store I will probably have an ugly, mean look on my face.
Why did Drew, Brooks and Chris make the finale three?
They are all great guys and they are all good-looking. So it was more a matter of finding the best guy to fit in my life. Drew is so kindhearted and I could see potential there but there were still some questions I needed to figure out like, “Could he ever be spontaneous and just let loose?” Because I want that in my life. Chris has all the qualities I was looking for and is strong and supportive. And Brooks has an amazing personality and sense of humor.
You shed lots of tears in the finale trailer. Did you regret the day you’d signed on?
I’m glad that I did it. Definitely. It’s my life and I think it is raw emotion and real feelings. Everyone has to handle those in their life at some point. The feelings that happened on the show are real, at least they were for me. I am not that good of an actress.
I think every Bachelorette fan is running possible finale scenarios in their heads.
Everyone is speculating and it is fun to hear all the theories. I’m excited for everyone to see because it’s life – my life – even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like me. I feel so far removed from the journey now. Even though it has only been a few months, it feels like a year. It’s going to be good. I don’t want anyone to know the end. I hope it doesn’t get spoiled.
Can you at least say if you are happy or if you found love?
I am content in my life. I feel good about where I’m at.
Part One of The Bachelorette finale airs Monday on ABC.