"I challenge anyone to go through this on national television and not make a mistake," writes the Bachelorette of a controversial decision

By Kaitlyn Bristowe
Updated June 23, 2015 04:30 PM
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The Bachelorette‘s Kaitlyn Bristowe opens up about getting intimate with a suitor and stands by her decision. Subscribe now to hear what she has to say about having sex on the show in this exclusive interview, only in PEOPLE!

Kaitlyn Bristowe is the Bachelorette! She charmed her way into the hearts of the Bachelor Nation – and nearly the Bachelor himself, Chris Soules, on season 19 of The Bachelor. Now Kaitlyn has begun her own journey to love.

I really, really wanted to chirp Ian ruthlessly, but I didn’t have to. He did enough damage himself. I understand that it doesn’t feel good when feelings aren’t reciprocated, but try and exit with some dignity. I have nothing more to say about Ian; I’ve already wasted enough time on him. Men Tell All should be fun.

I know no one will ever understand how hard rose ceremonies are. They always come after a week of being emotionally drained. And while having the rose ceremony at The Alamo was amazing, I couldn’t really take it in knowing the difficult decision ahead of me.

Sending Joshua home had NOTHING to do with what had happened the last week with Nick. My relationship with Joshua just wasn’t progressing as I wish it could have. Joshua, if you are reading this I think you are one of the biggest beauties. You’re a good ol’ fashioned guy, and I respect you. Saying goodbye is always hard when you care about someone. But I knew cutting ties then was the right time. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.

OFF TO IRELAND!!!!

Like I said, I have always wanted to go there. I used to live in Newfoundland, Canada, and it was like a mini Ireland. I LOVED it there, and I was beyond excited when Chris Harrison told us where we were headed. It was a surprise for me, too! Arriving to Dublin was amazing, and I was excited for my first date.

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I guess this is when I should just dive into the Nick date. Something people will never understand is how challenging it is to be The Bachelorette. And I have to admit, I never did in my days watching as a viewer. I used to think, “Okay, how hard could it really be to date a bunch of good-looking dudes and have all these feelings?!” I’ll admit, I didn’t think it would be hard, but I’m hear to tell you guys it’s FREAKING hard.

First of all, I am not perfect, and I’m not afraid to say that. But, as the Bachelorette, you have to juggle multiple relationships at once, and you feel responsible for so many people’s feelings and emotions, all the while trying to sort your emotions and feelings and trying to find your guy. Not to date, but to possibly marry! You HAVE TO compartmentalize relationships; it’s the only way to get through it.

Some relationships move faster than others. Some are more physical. Some are more meaningful. Some are fun. Some move slowly. Some are terrible. I’m SORRY! It’s just how the cookie crumbles. There is NO CHANCE you can go through this and not make some mistakes.

Okay, Nick. Let’s just get into it. Taking a relationship to an intimate level is very private to me. And that is why this is difficult as the Bachelorette. Nothing is private. Should I have had sex with Nick in that moment? Probably not my best idea, but intimacy is important to me and I don’t believe the act is wrong. I got lost in the moment and maybe I shouldn’t have made that choice. Hindsight is 20/20. I can’t help but wonder if I waited a couple weeks and did that in the fantasy suite and didn’t talk about it, would I be getting this kind of backlash?

I had other relationships, and I did feel guilt for that reason – because I cared about the other relationships I had. I can never make everyone happy at all times, and that includes myself. This is hard and it’s hard to relive. I hope you can understand and appreciate my honesty.

At the end of the day, I am a 30 year-old woman who was trying to make this experience as real as possible. I challenge anyone to go through this on national television and not make a mistake. It’s impossible. And I know I’m not the first or last to go through something like this, and I would hope people could keep that in mind and not be so quick to judge. I don’t judge others by their choices be it having sex or practicing abstinence. To each their own.

I pride myself in being an in-the-moment person and living each moment to the fullest. And that is high risk, high reward. But that’s just who I am and that’s how I was with these relationships. I wasn’t worried about what people would think of me. That also is not who I am. It’s hard reliving my choices now because people are VERY opinionated and this has been all I have talked about for over a month now. But I’m also honest and that comes with owning my decisions. The reason I didn’t want Nick to go tell the guys was because that was a private moment that I felt I should share if I wanted to.

It was challenging shifting my frame of mind after my date with Nick to a group date with these other great guys and great relationships I had. But I was excited to spend some more time with these guys, getting to know them and Ireland!

There is something SO beautiful about the way the Irish celebrate the lives of those they’ve lost. That’s what that Irish wake was to honor and celebrate. Have you ever wanted to say something to someone and it was too late? Maybe in life or maybe in a relationship? This date was to celebrate life, love, and the meaning behind your words. It was fun and loving. The guys did such a great job, and each of them had such a different approach. I was blown away with Ben H.’s humor. It was really great to see that side of him. On the flip side, I appreciated the way other Ben Z. took it seriously. He told me later he was grateful to experience that date as it really put him in touch with his emotions and that was something good for him. Ben Z. is such a big teddy bear!

It’s always so hard to hand out just one rose on those group dates. But through out the date, Jared continued to impress me. I wanted to do something special for him and to share an extra moment. When we walked up to the beautiful cathedral, it was breathtaking. And once we got inside, the ’90s child in me was screaming. I LOVE the Cranberries and having Jared with me in that moment was so romantic!!! It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, and I was happy to share that with Jared. Music brings out my soft side. I love it. And I know he enjoyed it just as much as I did. So Special!

Watching Shawn’s reaction later in the night at the after party was extremely painful. I never want to be responsible for causing pain to another. There was something so real between us, and I understand why he was hurting. We are both very passionate people, and that makes dating other people very hard. It doesn’t make sense, yet it’s the world we were living in. So do you even try to make sense of it? Or do you just battle through the days.

We had such a strong connection from the beginning. We started UP HERE (that’s me holding my hand as high as it can go). We were bound to go through tough times, ups and downs, especially starting off that strong. And I understood the confusion and hurt he was going through – after all I have been in those shoes, too. It was never easy for me to see Chris Soules dating other women. And trying to accept that it’s a show to date other guys is a strange concept. I can’t even wrap my head around it. So I don’t expect anyone else to.

Again. This is hard. I’m really trying my best here. I never could have expected it to be this challenging. I hope you can respect that I am a person with feelings too. And I did the best I could sorting out those feelings while dating all these men. It wasn’t easy. And it’s sure not easy watching it all back. But please, stick with me.

XOXO,
Kaitlyn

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The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.