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The Bachelorette‘s Michael Weighs In on ‘Girlfriend-Gate’

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New Yorker Michael Stagliano, 25, danced and joked his way into viewers’ hearts on The Bachelorette, but unfortunately Jillian didn’t feel the same about the breakdance instructor/model/bartender/young adult author. (He recently published a “nerdtacular” collection of short stories called Wesley’s Stories: Afterschool Adventures.) Stagliano, who has an identical twin brother, spoke with PEOPLE about getting his heart broken, being labeled too young, the controversy between Jake and Wes, and the possibility of twin Bachelors. — Carrie Bell

How’d you react to Ed’s return?At the ceremony, I put my hand up to ask Chris Harrison, “Is this legal?” I didn’t understand the concept of “I’m gonna leave for about a month and then we’ll pick it up from there.” But it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s about Jillian. If she cared for Ed, he should be able to continue. But when Ed came back and Reid got the first rose, I knew I was going home.

You seemed genuinely heartbroken after being eliminated.There is definitely a moment of “Wait a minute, what was that?” It’s a hypersensitive situation to meet someone in — no stress, wonderful dates, only girl you see for six weeks — but absolutely real feelings develop on the show.

Was your age the reason?She talked about that to me directly a few times and I saw her say very openly to my brother that it was a factor, but I never felt like she was older than me. There were times I felt she was goofier than I am. I never felt like I needed to act more like a 30-year-old.

Are you surprised Wes is still there?Early on, Wes wrote her a song and it made her cry and they were kissing a lot. Wes very much had his foot in the door but I thought Jesse would get a rose over him. I thought he was gonna win it. I didn’t know all the stuff that happened with Jake or the girlfriend or hear things Wes said. I don’t know if it is fact or fiction. He told me at the bunkhouse that he’d “done the rock star thing and was ready to settle down.” I don’t know that I’d say he’s a good fit for Jillian, but I will stand by Wes until the day I die. He’s a good guy coming off bad. I don’t think Jake is a liar. He heard something disconcerting and felt he needed to tell Jillian.

Who is the best fit in the remaining group?Kiptyn is a really good guy, down-to-earth, great heart. I don’t think there’s a lot of humor there, but he’s very mellow and even keel so he contrasts Jillian well.

Are you over Jillian now? Dated since?I haven’t dated anyone. That’s my own fault. I’m terrified of girls. I’m a disaster. I’m not crying in the corner and eating buckets of ice cream, but I totally still think about her. She’s really great. The “Men Tell All” show is in a week and I’m really nervous to see her. The last thing that I did on the show besides get dumped was make out with her. In my head, I went out on a high note.

Has this experience changed how and who you will date in the future?Before Jillian, I always dated younger women. I really liked her personality and maturity so I think I’ll try older women.

Your dad seemed to be bracing you for rejection. How did your family react?My family freaked out. I have brought home girls who did not get 10 out of 10 with my family. But they really loved her and she fit in. They believed that I fell in love. They saw it on my face.

There’s been some chatter about you and your brother stepping up as the first twin bachelors. Interested?It’s extremely exciting to think that we could find girls, propose and have weddings at the same time. I couldn’t imagine anything better. Steve and I would spice things up a notch. Our parents would want us to do it because they know the process works. I did not go on the show for the right reasons, but I fell for her so I know it’s possible to find love there. ABC