Rachel Lindsay is blogging exclusively for PEOPLE about her journey to find love on The Bachelorette

By Rachel Lindsay
July 25, 2017 04:32 PM
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Rachel Lindsay vied for Nick Viall‘s heart on season 21 of The Bachelor, now she’s on her own journey to find love on the latest season of The Bachelorette — and she’s blogging about it exclusively for PEOPLE! Follow Rachel on Twitter at @TheRachLindsay!

Hey guys, before I jump into the juicy details about Dallas and the beginning of my overnight dates I want to share some huge news. There’s a brand new man in my life and he’s THE CUTEST! Baby Hendrix, who my sister Constance was carrying during filming, was born in May! My family is just growing and growing, and it’s getting me ready to start my own!

I know it was a new approach to have the men meet my family before the overnight dates. Looking back, it was one of the best choices I made. I cried a lot on that flight to Dallas because I was spending every single ounce of strength I had making the decision to send Dean home at the rose ceremony. I was in no shape to bounce right back from that and explore what life with Eric, Peter or Bryan might look like without some outside help.

It meant so much to me to have my family come into the journey just in the nick of time. Even though my father couldn’t appear on camera because of the nature of his career, he still made time to sit down and talk with each guy privately. I don’t know that I would have been able to say yes to a proposal if he hadn’t been there for me at that moment.

I picked Peter to meet the family first because hearing him say he was on “the path to being in love” at the end of his hometown left me feeling a little muddled. I knew what it was like to have reservations, but also I knew we had to get past them soon if we were going to make this relationship work. I was shocked when he confessed he was falling in love before we even got in the door!

More than what he said that day, watching Peter color with my nephew Alistair on the kitchen floor made him seem ready for an engagement. It was actually tough watching his one-on-one conversations and seeing my mother support his reluctance to propose. We had just taken a big step forward by saying “love” and it felt like she was supporting a step backward.

Even after an almost perfect day I still had doubts if he would be ready to start his own family in a matter of weeks. That was the struggle, the push and pull in my relationship with Peter, he was giving me just enough to stay around without taking a stance on his feelings. Leaving Dallas, I knew I needed a definitive outlook on what Peter wanted for himself and what he wanted with me.

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The next day I took Eric to the top of Reunion Tower for our little reunion. His hometown had gone so well and now his new beard was really growing on me too. I was most nervous for Eric to meet my family — but not because of where he was from. Neither my mother or father had a privileged upbringing so I knew he wouldn’t be judged for that. I was worried that Eric, the talker, might spend his precious little time with my family describing how positive this journey had been for him and not get into the tough questions about the future for us.

Thankfully, he actually went into every conversation focused on the potential engagement ahead. Something you didn’t see was my mother asking Eric if he’d be secure in a relationship and marriage with a woman who holds a higher paying profession. She knew it was a recurring issue with past boyfriends. Eric made it clear to her that he wanted nothing more than to support my success. Exactly the kind of confidence I need in a husband.

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Bryan was the last guy to meet the Lindsays. I knew my family had already watched Bryan’s “sloppy seconds” comment on Ellen so he had a bit of an uphill battle. What I found out that day is they had also done some snooping online and read some other things about Bryan’s past. Things from his past that weren’t remotely a concern or relevant to me, but they caused my family to come off a bit critical from the jump.

One thing I always say is that “I am chill until I’m not.” And I went right to that place as my family continually questioned how sincere his strong feelings were with me. Look, I get it. I was initially skeptical of Bryan, too, and made him very aware of that throughout this journey, but we had already worked past that and it wasn’t a subject I needed them to revisit all day. Luckily, Bryan had more patience with their questions than I did. Seeing how unwavering he was about his hopes for an engagement and how protective of him I got made my family realize the love was real.

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After a week of bringing boys home I was more than ready for a glass of wine and some romance. Luckily Rioja, Spain, is one place in the world where you’ll find an abundance of both. I can’t think of a more memorable place to get engaged because now I can open a bottle of beautiful Rioja region wine and one sip takes me back to those endless vineyards and ancient monasteries where my wish came true.

I took Eric on the helicopter ride because I knew it would be another first I would get to experience with him. Side note: You might recognize the monastery we visited if you watched Game of Thrones a few weeks ago. I asked if we could rent a dragon to fly us to dinner, but HBO had booked them all.

That night Eric actually experienced another first, he told me he loved me! He’s never said that to a woman before. When it comes to expressing love, brevity is best. Up to that point Eric had used the word love with me but surrounded it with so many qualifiers it actually made me more confused about his feelings. I remember how much courage it took me to tell Nick I was falling in love on our overnight date so I was so happy for Eric in that moment. I knew just like the journey with Nick had changed me forever, Eric was now a different man from when we first met.

Peter was a fitting man to bring on date to a winery because his feelings took their sweet time maturing. Traveling around northern Spain, you may get to thinking the delectable wine is just a product of the native Tempranillo grapes that blanket the beautiful landscape. Being serenaded by Vitorino the owner of Eguren Ugarte Vineyard made me realize it’s the love and dedication the locals put into the grapes that really makes their wine world class.

As much as I enjoyed the romantic moments I shared with Peter that day, hearing that he asked my mother for permission to just date was a sobering moment. I knew we needed to have a very serious conversation that night. Even after I expressed I wasn’t on this journey for anything less than a lifelong commitment he didn’t show any willingness to try and get there too. He just told me he was falling in love with me a week ago but suddenly everything felt like it was falling apart around us. We were stuck and I was completely speechless.

If you’ve enjoyed hearing my thoughts on this season then you absolutely have to tune in next Monday for the Men Tell All and get the guys’ scoops on the drama, beefs and behind-the-scenes stuff you didn’t see. Dean’s got questions for me, and really pushes for clarity. Lee will have to answer for himself, Lucas will somehow make an even bigger fool of himself, DeMario will get his chance to tell his side of the story, and I’ll have to face all the men whose hearts I broke. Plus there’s bloopers!

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It’s all leading up to have the season finale on Aug. 7. Soon you’ll find out which one of these men makes me the happiest fiancé in the world and which goes through the most brutal break up in Bachelorette history. Every date, kiss, heartbreak and declaration of love that you’ve watched up till now is about to be outdone in the final chapter. Before you get to celebrate the greatest moment of my life with me, you’ll have to watch me go through the hardest night ever.

Think you know who’s going to pop the question? Guess again. Bachelor Nation, I’m down on one knee asking … will you watch me finally get engaged?! Stay Tuned!

Love always,
Rachel

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