In a shocking twist, the fan favorite was sent home Monday night

As gasp-worthy as Luke Pell‘s exit on Monday night’s episode of The Bachelorette was, perhaps no one was as surprised as Pell himself.

“It was happening in slow motion,” he tells PEOPLE exclusively of JoJo Fletcher sending him home. “I was in such disbelief, knowing where we had come from. It was a tough night.”

Watching the episodes back however, the 31-year-old war veteran admits, “I could have been more direct about how in love with her I was. Stupid me, I was holding back for that perfect, hopelessly romantic time to say I love you, and I held it too long I guess.”

Still, Pell says there are no hard feelings towards his ex. “At the end of the day, I still love her,” he says. “She’ll always have a piece of my heart. And I want her to be happy, even if it isn’t with me.”

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Fingers crossed ladies, we might not have heard the last from this dashing Texan. Single now, Pell says he would definitely consider a run as the next Bachelor.

Says Pell, “This whole process worked for me. I fell in love with JoJo, and our relationship was great. If the opportunity comes up to go through this process again, I would completely be open to it. I’m hopeful to find the right person!”

The Bachelorette: Men Tell All airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, and The Bachelorette‘s finale airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET, both on ABC.