The Nashville-based musician is one of Hannah Brown's nine remaining suitors on the show
A bombshell just hit The Bachelorette.
Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE in this week’s issue, singer-songwriter Haley Stevens opens up publicly for the first time about her romance with frontrunner Jed Wyatt. According to her, she was four months into a relationship with the Nashville-based musician when he left to film this season of the ABC show — and never even heard from him when he got back.
“The hardest part is that he ghosted me,” she says. “He loved me, but he didn’t have enough respect for me to have that tough conversation.”
Stevens, 26, says she began dating Wyatt, 25, last November — after he had applied to be a contestant.
“He told me [early on] that he had applied,” Stevens says. “He said, ‘It’s probably not going to happen, but it’s a huge opportunity. I’m only doing this for my music.’ He only did it for his career.”
“He wanted a platform,” she continues. “He kept telling me, ‘I don’t want my dad to have to help me pay rent anymore.’ He said he only wanted to be top five … to be a major player so that it would be beneficial.”
Indeed, Wyatt himself admitted during a one-on-one with Hannah Brown on a recent episode that he signed up for the show because it could be “a huge platform.” But Wyatt told Brown, 24, that his mindset changed after meeting her: “Every moment that we’ve had has taken that away and shown me that now more than anything I want to be with you,” he promised.
According to Stevens, Wyatt — who got the call in February that he had officially been cast — made her a very different promise.
“He told me [the show] was just an obstacle and we’d be stronger on the other side because of it,” she says. “We spent the night together the night before he headed to L.A. He called me when he landed. He said, ‘I love you, and I’ll call you when I get back.’ ”
- For more on the Bachelorette bombshell, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
Stevens says Wyatt, who is currently one of Brown’s nine remaining suitors on the show, “was always so reassuring.”
“He told me, it’s not real. It’s acting,” she recalls. (A rep for The Bachelorette had no comment from Brown or Wyatt.)
Like all contestants, Wyatt had to surrender his phone during filming, so Stevens had no idea what was happening — and grew increasingly anxious. Her worst fear came true when she recently learned that Wyatt had returned home to Nashville without calling her. She confronted him when she ran into him at a music venue earlier this month and says Wyatt offered little explanation as to what happened.
“He said, ‘Hey how have you been?’ and I said, ‘How do you think I’ve been?’ ” she says. “I asked him, ‘You didn’t think I deserved a phone call?’ And he said, ‘I didn’t know what to say.’ “
They never spoke again about their relationship, and Stevens says she doesn’t know how things turned out with Wyatt and Brown.
“Everything in me wants to believe that he meant everything he said and got caught up in [the show],” she says. “I don’t believe he’s a terrible person, but it’s a terrible situation. And part of me thinks I was the backup plan and he wanted me to be here in case it didn’t work out. I feel 100 percent betrayed.”
The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.