Arie Luyendyk Jr. drew the ire of Bachelor Nation on Monday’s dramatic season 22 finale when he broke off his engagement to Becca Kufrin on camera, weeks after proposing — admitting he still had feelings for runner-up Lauren Burnham.
But the 36-year-old race car driver stands by the decision to have the emotional and awkward breakup filmed for a number of reasons, chief among them the chance it gave Kufrin to move into a starring role on next season of The Bachelorette.
“Honestly, I wanted her the opportunity to be the potential Bachelorette,” Luyendyk Jr. told Michael Strahan on Wednesday’s Good Morning America when asked why he did it.
He added: “I think for me, I really wanted everyone to know that this was on me, this was my fault. I felt like filming that would let people know that. That, if there were any questions on the breakup, those would be squashed if they saw the breakup. … I hope I gave her a little bit of closure.”
Kufrin will, in fact, be the next Bachelorette — a decision that was announced on Tuesday during the live After the Final Rose conclusion to Arie Luyendyk Jr.‘s season.
“I’m very happy for her,” Luyendyk Jr., who is now engaged to Burnham, said of the decision on Wednesday. “I’m happy that she’s going to be able to find her true love through the show.”
“This ending obviously wasn’t perfect. I know it’s difficult for a lot of people to swallow,” he told Strahan. “Becca is going to be the new Bachelorette and I’m very happy for her in that. There’s a happy ending to this story.”
He may be okay with the cameras capturing Kufrin’s tear-filled heartbreak, but viewers certainly weren’t.
Fans slammed the long-running ABC show for shooting the awkward breakup with Kufrin, with one writing, “I hate Chris Harrison and The Bachelor producers and ABC for even filming this.”
Even former stars of the show spoke out. “How did this breakup end up on camera? Seems like a private conversation. We don’t belong in this conversation,” said Bachelor Ben Higgins. Added Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher, “STOP.FILMING.HER.”
So how did Kufrin feel about it? Not great.
“It was embarrassing the way he broke up with me with the full cameras and crew around,” the 27-year-old the Minnesota-based publicist told PEOPLE exclusively for this week’s issue (on newsstands Friday).
“There was a better and more tactful way to do it,” she added. “A breakup is hard enough, and to have it all filmed and have to re-watch it and know that people all across the country are watching you get your heart broken, it is embarrassing. It’s not fun. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It was like a slap in the face.”
That being said, Kufrin just wants to put that chapter of her life behind her.
“I went through all the emotions. I was mad for awhile, I was so sad and down for awhile, I was p—– for awhile,” she said. “At this point, I want this chapter of Arie to be done and close it and put it on the shelf and put it away.”
“I’m still going to feel a sense of compassion for him because I did love him,” she continued. “But at this point, I want him to be happy, I want to be done and not have to worry about them anymore. They’re going to be together and do their thing. I want to move on and have my person that I can focus on and live my life with.”
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She also revealed she’s “ready” to be the Bachelorette.
“It does scare me,” Kufrin admitted. “I’m sure it would [scare] any human, knowing that I was just engaged, I was in love. But I have so much love to give and I want just a partner in life. I’m not afraid to date these guys and find the one who is the best fit for me — I welcome that with open arms.”
Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette will premiere on May 28 on ABC.