Still, the two remain friends and she says "deep down, he's a good person"

By Aili Nahas
September 17, 2019 05:00 PM
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Kristina Schulman came to Paradise to find love, but she wasn’t willing to settle.

The 26-year-old dental hygienist shocked viewers when she rejected ex Blake Horstmann on ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise after he told her he wanted a relationship.

“At that point, I had heard a lot,” Schulman, who dated Horstmann on and off before coming to Paradise, tells PEOPLE. “I tried. But mentally, I wasn’t there anymore.”

Craig Sjodin/ABC; Bob D'Amico/ ABC

Horstmann’s pursuit of Schulman came after he had already gone on a date with fellow contestant Tayshia Adams — and then tried in vain to date Hannah Godwin.

“At some point I was like, ‘Maybe if I’m still thinking about him, considering he has feelings for me, I should give it a shot,'” Schulman recalls. “But it’s like, hey, a guy doesn’t want you, chooses every girl before you, and then comes back to you and you run back and take him? I didn’t want to be that girl again.”

Horstmann’s pattern was eerily familiar for Schulman, who was strung along by Dean Unglert in Paradise last summer. (He was torn between Schulman and Danielle Lombard.)

Ultimately, Schulman says she was even though she wasn’t willing to get into a relationship with Horstmann, she supported him platonically.

“I didn’t go to Paradise for Blake,” she says. “But he was struggling and I didn’t want him going through that. That’s why I was holding his hand through Paradise, hoping to be that shoulder to lean on. We had a good friendship going. And I wanted to stay committed to that.”

ABC/John Fleenor

And when it comes to the massive backlash Horstmann encountered post-filming, for releasing private texts between him and ex Caelynn Miller-Keyes, Schulman remains loyal to her friend.

“I know Blake’s heart and I know that deep down he’s a good person,” she says. “Dean got a lot of negativity for what happened with us in Paradise and I still think he’s a good person. And the extent of backlash he got on our season is uncalled for, just like this season for Blake.”

Schulman says she even reached out to Horstmann after the show, though the status of their relationship hasn’t changed.

“We got back and I said, ‘I’d like to talk if you want to talk,'” she says. “He had just had his heart shattered and he said, ‘I need some time.’ Ultimately we came back together as friends.”

The season finale of Bachelor in Paradise airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.