Despite their best efforts to make the love between them last, the couple jointly decided to end their relationship. In the weeks following their split, Bushnell, 27, says that they “of course” still had a physical connection between them, but it was the emotional aspect that led to the end of their engagement.
“It was more so the emotional connection that fizzled,” says Bushnell.
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Six months after the former couple met ad fell in love on The Bachelor, Higgins, 29, and Bushnell returned to the small screen for one season of their Freeform reality show Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After?
“I remember during filming Happily Ever After, I was so stressed out, we couldn’t even communicate with one another when we were filming Happily Ever After,” she explains.
“We were just stressed and tired physically,” Bushnell admits, and adds, “Emotionally, I just felt like it wasn’t there anymore.”
- For more from Bushnell, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE in May, Higgins and Bushnell said, “It is with heavy hearts that we announce our decision to go our separate ways. We feel fortunate for the time we had together, and will remain friends with much love and respect for one another. We wish nothing but the best for each other, and ask for your support and understanding at this time.”
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Following the split, Higgins also addressed his breakup with Bushnell on an episode of his new podcast, Ben and Ashley: “Almost Famous.”
“I think, mutually, Lauren and I saw that life was getting more difficult,” Higgins said of their last few months together. “I would say the joy that we felt toward our relationship at the beginning was — for some reason — slipping away, and we were both working very hard to bring that joy back. And it just never seemed to get there. So it was a long time coming, but it wasn’t necessarily like we dragged it out.”
The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.