It was the biggest bombshell of the season, so it’s no surprise that Colton Underwood‘s virginity is still a topic of discussion.
In PEOPLE’s exclusive sneak peek at Monday’s Bachelorette: Men Tell All special, the professional football player — who was eliminated by Becca Kufrin after their hometown date — gets emotional while discussing why he kept his virginity a secret until he appeared on the show.
“How difficult was that to essentially broadcast — not just talk about, but you knew that you were broadcasting this to not just Becca, but to everybody?” asks host Chris Harrison.
“I think that’s something that for me was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” says Underwood, 26. “I’ve gone through a lot with that. It’s hard for me to even talk about it right now. But growing up, being an athlete, it’s something that I was ashamed of because it was so openly talked about in our community.”
Getting choked up, Underwood admits that he “made up a lot of lies” in order to hide the truth.
“I wasn’t true to who I was, and I feel like people think I’m less of a man because of that,” he adds. “And that’s the hardest thing for me to hear.”
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“I was so happy that I was able to talk about something I never wanted to share with anybody,” he said. “The show allowed me to be true to who I am and it allowed me to grow as a person. I couldn’t be more appreciative of that.”
And his virginity doesn’t keep him from enjoying romantic relationships, he pointed out.
“Being a virgin doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t be passionate and romantic and sexual still in your relationship.”
The Bachelorette: Men Tell All airs Monday, followed by the season finale on Aug. 6, both at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.