“My relationship with Cassie’s family is only continuing to get stronger,” says Colton Underwood

By Aili Nahas
March 13, 2019 01:00 PM

When it came to Colton Underwood getting to know girlfriend Cassie Randolph’s family, it wasn’t exactly an auspicious start.

Randolph’s father Matt had some stern opinions about The Bachelor process, especially given that, at the time, there were still three women vying for Underwood’s heart, and he didn’t give Underwood permission to ask for Randolph’s hand in marriage.

“Looking back, I understand where he was coming from,” Underwood, 27, tells PEOPLE. “It’s like, ‘I’ve only met you for 30 minutes and had a conversation, you seem like a great guy, but I love my daughter and I know who my daughter is.’ Of course, I wanted to hear a yes, but the fact that he stood true to himself showed me all I needed to know about him as a man. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Jim Wright
  • Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: The Bachelor’s Colton Underwood and Cassie Randolph, streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

Randolph’s dad eventually followed her to Portugal, where he encouraged her not to make any rash decisions in her relationship with Underwood. Randolph, 23, subsequently chose to leave, though she says now that it was her choice above all.

“Before my dad even showed up, I think I knew what I had to do,” Randolph explains. “I wasn’t at the engagement stage. But having him there helped me process it all and talk it out. I totally respect my family and everything they say, but ultimately, it was my decision, and not my dad’s.”

Now that they’ve been happily back together for the last four months, Underwood and Randolph have spent more time with her family, and the pro football player doesn’t harbor any hard feelings.

  • For more on Cassie and Colton, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Jim Wright

After his reunion with Randolph, “I even told [her father], ‘Your daughter is worth all of this,’” says Underwood. “I wanted to make it as clear as possible to him that I was doing this for me.”

And now?

“My relationship with Cassie’s family is only continuing to get stronger,” says Underwood.

Adds Randolph: “They love him!”