The Bachelor’s Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell are giving their relationship another shot after breaking up amid controversy earlier this year

Matt James is opening up about how he is navigating his relationship with Rachael Kirkconnell

In a recent interview with WSJ. Magazine, the former Bachelor said he and Kirkconnell are trying to make things work after they broke up earlier this year when racially insensitive photos of her surfaced online. 

"I think the best way to put it is that we can have critical conversations about being in this relationship and what I need in a partner — especially if that woman isn't Black — to understand what comes with me and my life and being Black," he told the outlet.

"It's on people who care about being allies to do the work to be truly antiracist," continued James, who was the franchise's first Black Bachelor. "And I think it's unfair to leave people without the ability to unlearn and be better." 

(Kirkconnell told WSJ that she and James are back together, noting that it's been helpful to have privacy in this stage of their relationship.)

Matt James
Credit: CLIFFORD PRINCE KING for WSJ. Magazine
Matt James
Credit: CLIFFORD PRINCE KING for WSJ. Magazine

James, 29, and Kirkconnell, 24, left season 25 of The Bachelor as a couple and remained together for a period of time after the cameras stopped rolling. However, their romantic relationship came to an end after photos of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum plantation-themed party in 2018 surfaced on social media. She later apologized and said that she is "learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist."

When the couple was spotted together in Los Angeles and New York City, though, fans began speculating that they had reunited — and James recently confirmed as much to PEOPLE.

"I've seen Rachael a handful of times," he said last week. "I'm not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it."

Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell
| Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty

As for whether James, who's currently training for a marathon, feels Kirkconnell has been doing the work she promised in regard to educating herself about racism, "that's something you could talk to her about," he said. "A lot of what I'm focused on right now is the work that I'm doing in the community and with the [marathon] training."

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In his WSJ. Magazine interview, James also referenced his tweet about finding a therapist following the conclusion of his whirlwind Bachelor season. 

"I have spoken to therapists — I wouldn't say I have a specific therapist," he said. "As you talk about things, that's when the healing can start."