Derek Peth and Taylor Nolan fell for one another in Paradise, but it was after the cameras stopped rolling that they knew their love was real.
The duo, who met on the fourth season of BiP, hit it off from the start. Throughout their short time on the show, Nolan (who searched for love on Nick Viall‘s season of The Bachelor) and Peth (who previously competed on JoJo Fletcher‘s season of The Bachelorette) remained solid in their relationship — but not without some bumps along the way. However, love seemed to trump all, because the two moved past the drama and worked things out.
After getting engaged in front of a live audience, the engaged couple spoke with PEOPLE about the future of their relationship.
How are you doing post engagement?
Taylor Nolan: It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. It’s been a crazy last few weeks.
Derek Peth: We were both skeptical of A) the process and B) of each other.
Nolan: I knew he was going to Paradise but I didn’t have any interest. I was like, “He’s not for me.” I was like, “I’m going to go to Paradise, I’m not going to like anyone, no one is going to like me.” I was very pessimistic about it. I had really low self-esteem going into Paradise and I wasn’t looking at myself in the best of light going into it.
Peth: The first day, we had conversations with other people and they were a little bit shallow conversations and Taylor and I just delved into normal life and we got to know each other like it was a real date.
Nolan: Talking to him it felt like a real date, like we were getting to know each other. It didn’t feel like I was on Paradise, on a reality TV show. It was super refreshing. We talked for like three hours our first conversation. I was like, “ah s— I think I might like him!” I was very resistant to liking him.
It doesn’t seem like anything or anyone shook your relationship.
Nolan: Once we had that conversation, everyone else kind of wrote both of us off! They were like, “Derek and Taylor are going to be a thing.”
Peth: We said if that’s something you decide you want to do, go ahead, but I think other people knew before we did, how close we were.
What did you know about each other?
Peth: I did know that she is very smart and that’s something that is a very big turn-on for me. That was a hope that was validated instantly.
What was the production shut down like?
Nolan: At first we were trying to be realistic, [because we didn’t know we’d be going back] and I’m in Seattle, he’s in Iowa. But we couldn’t stop talking to each other. We’d wake up and FaceTime each other in bed and then we’d talk for like three hours and by the end of the day, we FaceTimed for five-plus hours. Brushing our teeth, we couldn’t get enough. Before production resumed, we had actually booked a ticket for me to go to Iowa and visit him. And then we got a call that production was back on! The shutdown was actually really good for us.
Peth: It was really cool to be able to see each other in the real world. We had an advantage because we knew what we were getting ourselves into.
Nolan: He got to meet my cats! [on FaceTime]
Peth: We started to see how we each are in the normal world. Normal world stuff.
Nolan: I got to see his kitchen and his bedroom and what his breakfast looked like and learning little pieces of who he was, what’s important.
Peth: The simple things that actually mean a lot.
What about after Paradise wrapped?
Nolan: He followed me! He came to Seattle with me and ended up being in Seattle for about three weeks actually. It was a long time.
Peth: The first time I surprised her. I had my flight back and I had already changed it and I pretended that I hadn’t. She was all depressed that I wasn’t going to be there the next day. We’ve spent a lot of time together. Sometimes too much!
Nolan: We’ve gotten better about incorporating space into our relationship. That’s really important for me. We communicate about everything.
You had one fight in Paradise — how did that help or hurt you?
Nolan: A lot of people thought I overreacted but the context was that a few days prior I had just opened up about my past relationships.
Peth: What we learned from that was how important communication is and that we’re both able to be our own person. We’re both strong personality but we also know how to talk through that. We learned how to handle that adversity. I would rather have that than have it all be rainbows and butterflies.
Nolan: He said he wanted to give me a white picket fence and I said what if I don’t want a white picket fence and he said “I’ll paint it brown” and my heart melted. I was like yes I want my fence brown!
When did you know it was real?
Peth: Paradise was amazing, I definitely had started to fall in love with Taylor while we were there but once I went to Seattle and saw her friends and family, it definitely was seeing her heart connect with her loved ones and her animals. There was one morning where we were drinking coffee on the porch looking at Mt. Rainier and reflecting and I was dang, I love this girl.
Where will you live? Moving?
Peth: We’re not looking to necessarily go straight to living together.
Nolan: We probably won’t see that for a while. He’s open to coming to Seattle. We also want to have that normal romance that might seem a little boring like going over to your boyfriend’s house, we haven’t really had that. So we want to hold off on living with each other for a while.
Peth: We’ve talked about it.
Nolan: We’re not in a rush.
Peth: We’re trying to maintain the romance as much as can.
Peth: We’re open to whatever. Evan [Bass] told me just be with her, be with each other and don’t get too far engaged in what other people think. That was the best advice.
Would you get married on TV?
Peth: It’s something we’re open-minded about.
Taylor, did you think the proposal was coming?
Nolan: I thought there was a three percent chance. We had talked about taking next steps and what that would look like.
Peth: We looked at rings to talk about what she does like. We broached the subject a bunch. But I was definitely trying to surprise her.
Nolan: I was surprised!
You said that he doesn’t complete you, but he complements you.
Nolan: Absolutely. I want to feel like I’m my own whole person and just have someone to share my life with. I don’t want to be dependent on someone else to feel good about myself. The team aspect is really important to me. Once I expressed that to him he definitely picked right up on it. He was like, “Yup we’re a team. I want to be a team.”
The physical part of your relationship was really important to you.
Nolan: It was a little stressful because people kept calling us the next Jade and Tanner and I was like, “Guys, I haven’t even had sex with this guy yet! What are you talking about?” We had been in the boom boom room together and spent the night together almost every night but hadn’t taken that next step yet. Being able to do that helps solidify the emotional connection, the spiritual connection and it ends that romantic exciting piece to it. It’s special and important for me to share with someone I care about. We kept joking like if people want us to get engaged, we at least have to have sex three times!
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When did you say I love you?
Nolan: After Paradise. It happened more off the show. During the Fantasy Suite once the cameras left, one of my favorite moments because I got to see more of him, he played guitar and sang for me.
Peth: I don’t like to do that in front of people but she kept talking about how much she wanted to see that.
Nolan: I wanted to see more of him. Even before we had sex, just seeing him open up more and seeing that part of him, I was like, “oh I kind of love you!”
Most excited about what now?
Nolan: It’s nice that we don’t have to hide the fact that we’re together anymore and we can let people see more of who we are too.
You sound very happy.
Nolan: We are!