On Thursday, Bachelor Nation was shocked to learn that Kraus — the runner-up on Rachel Lindsay‘s season 13 of The Bachelorette — wouldn’t be the franchise’s new leading man and that fellow Bachelorette alum Arie Luyendyk Jr. was selected instead.
But before Luyendyk Jr. was officially chosen, 31-year-old Kraus was one of the contenders that were in the running for the coveted position of Bachelor.
“Peter was absolutely in discussion. He sort of alluded to that as well. I think at this point in his life, the breakup with Rachel was still very raw. Sometimes you move on very quickly, sometimes you don’t. I think that, for him, there were still residual feelings there, and it was a very real breakup,” Robert Mills, ABC’s Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming, told Entertainment Tonight.
On The Bachelorette, Kraus resisted the ABC reality show’s tradition of proposing to the leading lady during the finale. After a final heart-wrenching conversation with Lindsay in which he acknowledged that asking her to marry him would be a compromise of his core values, they decided to part ways before the final rose ceremony.
“I think the finale, when that aired and everything after that was also hard on Peter. I think he just didn’t know. I think Peter probably would have done it and been an amazing Bachelor, but I also don’t know if he, himself, knew if this was the time when he was ready to really do this 100 percent,” added Mills, who said Kraus wasn’t “100 percent ready.”
Still, like Luyendyk Jr., it’s possible that the Wisconsin native, who runs a personal training company in Madison, Wisconsin, could have his second shot at finding happily ever after on an ABC reality series down the road.
“I think we’ll always be in touch with Peter, and there might be a time. … It might be a year from now, when it’s better for him,” said Mills. “It was all about timing. If Arie wasn’t ready, we would have looked at him, but we want it to feel right. Peter was an incredible fan favorite, which I think was great, but I also think the double-edged sword with that is, if it’s not the season that the fans want, which, you know, might have been if Peter might not have been ready to commit 100 percent, that’s also disappointing, and it would have been disappointing for Peter too.”
Following his appearance on The Bachelorette, Kraus thought he would be cast for the role of Bachelor “up until early this week,” a source close to the situation told PEOPLE
“Peter got an indication yesterday that a new Bachelor was going to be announced and that it wasn’t him,” the source said Kraus. “But he had no idea who it was or that it was specifically Arie.”
Kraus essentially turned down the opportunity a few weeks ago “because he was conflicted,” the source added.
“He was questioning everything: doing it, not doing it,” the source explained. “It wasn’t about him not falling in love or proposing at the end. He’s a very deep, emotional, thoughtful person who doesn’t do anything rash. It’s a big deal to be the Bachelor, and he didn’t want to let anyone down, from production to the fans of the show.”
WATCH: ‘The Bachelor:’ Arie Luyendyk Jr. Will Be Season 22’s Leading Man
Hours after Luyendyk Jr. was announced as the new season 22 Bachelor, Kraus took to social media to address the casting and share the important lesson he learned from his time on The Bachelorette.
“#tbt to the most incredible journey of this life time that has now officially come to an end today. As I sit here writing this, I struggle to hold back the tears as I am overcome with emotion one last time. First and foremost.. @therachlindsay , there are so very many things that I’ve wished I could say to you since the day we parted ways in Spain, but for everyone’s sake, I’ll keep it short… You gave me a chance and all that I can say is thank you,” he wrote on Instagram. “I have a heart filled with love for you now and always and wish you nothing but the best in your life and love ahead.”
“ABC, you saw something in me, but something held me back. You treated me with such love and kindness and showed me glimpses of a life I never once dreamed that I could have. I will be forever humbled and grateful and will always look back at these last 6 months with an ear to ear smile, knowing that this has truly been a very special life indeed,” he continued.
Kraus added: “Upon leaving the @bacheloretteabc I was asked, ‘what did you learn, about yourself during this process?’ And at the time I naively said ‘nothing that I can think of.’ Now… looking back… I realize I learned one of the single greatest teachings of my life.”
“When you let uncertainty or fear guide your decisions, you risk missing out on what could potentially be the greatest opportunity of a life time,” he wrote, and concluded, “So live dangerously, live without the fear of the unknown, and continue to live and love with a heart that is truly open to anything. #thankyou #lovealways.”
Luyendyk Jr.’s season of The Bachelor premieres on ABC in 2018.