Former Bachelorette Jillian Harris Opens Up about finding Happiness After Her Public Breakup: 'I've Learned a Lot'

The interior decorator calls her 2010 split from Ed Swiderski "devastating"

Photo: Michael Stewart/WireImage

It may have led to a painful and very public breakup, but Jillian Harris says she has no regrets about doing The Bachelorette.

“I’ve become more patient, and more understanding,” Harris tells PEOPLE. “I think that’s opened my heart to love more.”

The interior decorator, who was dumped by Bachelor Jason Mesnick in 2009, went on to find love – and a fiancé in Ed Swiderski –on the Bachelorette. When she discovered that Swiderski had allegedly been cheating on her, “I was so devastated.”

Says Harris: “I was under 90 pounds, I would have to pull over to the side of the road and have anxiety attacks. There were blogs about me and my relationships. It was crazy.”

Still, the 36-year-old says she doesn’t have hard feelings about her ex nearly six years after their split.

“I look back now, and I understand that relationships are really difficult,” she says. “People annoy you, they frustrate you and they hurt you, and sometimes they don’t mean to hurt you. I’ve seen the highs and lows. I’m more realistic now.”

And a lot happier. “When I met Justin [Pasutto, her boyfriend of four years], there were so many things I’d learned and so many things I’d gotten out of my system. It’s so hard when you’re going through a tough time, you just want to punch people when they say things are going to work out. But they really do!”

For more from Jillian and all your other favorite Bachelors and Bachelorettes, tune into The Bachelor at 20: A Celebration of Love, on Sunday, Feb. 14 (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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