Nick Viall is certainly no stranger to looking for love on reality TV.
In fact, he tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue that “it’s frustrating that there is this idea that I was always a bridesmaid, never a bride kind …. It’s not fun knowing that people know me as the guy who professed his love for two women on national TV, only to realize that they probably weren’t the ones for me. But I’m actually really happy with the way things played out.”
In 2014, Viall was the runner-up on Andi Dorfman‘s season of The Bachelorette; the following year he finished second place again, when Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe left him broken-hearted. This summer, Viall fell for fellow Bachelor in Paradise contestant Jen Saviano but left Mexico as a single man.
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Still, the 35-year-old entrepreneur says he doesn’t want any pity. “While it was heartbreaking in both [Andi and Kaitlyn’s] seasons, I’m really grateful that they made the decisions that they did,” says Viall. “And Jen was an amazing woman, but that didn’t work out. A lot of people have relationships that don’t work out! Mine just happen to be on television.”
Continues Viall, weighing in on the criticism that he’s only on television for the fame: “People meet people in lots of unique and crazy ways. [Going on The Bachelor] doesn’t mean I’m not genuine. Hopefully people will form different opinions along the way.”
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And now, as he prepares for his new role, Viall says he’s grateful for past experiences. “I’ve grown and matured a lot [since my first season on The Bachelorette],” says Viall. “I’m a better communicator now. And I know myself a lot better. I never want to let the negative experiences make me too afraid to take risks in the future.”
The Bachelor returns to ABC in January.