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March 07, 2018 06:07 PM

When it comes to the fallout from Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s shocking season finale of The Bachelor, Courtney Robertson says she stands by her friend.

“I felt sad for him,” says Robertson, who dated Luyendyk Jr. on and off for years prior to him going on the show. “But I think he made the right choice in correcting his mistakes.”

Arie and Courtney
Splash News Online

Continues Robertson, who got engaged to Ben Flajnik on The Bachelor in 2012 (they split seven months later), “I’ve been through it. … You go into this wanting this fairy-tale ending, and it’s so rarely like that.”

And the Scottsdale, Arizona-based realtor got to see Luyendyk’s indecision firsthand after he initially proposed to final pick Becca Kufrin, but before he went back to runner-up Lauren Burnham.

Courtney Robertson

“I knew that he was feeling like making the switch,” she says of the time she spent after filming with Luyendyk Jr., whom she occasionally works with in real estate. “I’ve never seen him so conflicted and sad. We talked through everything. I gave him the best advice I could give him. I encouraged him to follow his heart.”

  • For more on Arie and Lauren, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

As far as the much-maligned breakup with Kufrin, “it was painful to watch,” says Robertson. “But he made a mistake. People make mistakes. I don’t think people need to pile on.” As far as featuring it on the show, “He told me he filmed it so it would guarantee [Becca] as the next Bachelorette.”

When it comes to facing criticism, “I knew the storm was coming,” she says. “It made me heavy-hearted for everybody. But after watching, I can tell he’s so happy. I think he got what he wanted out of this. I can’t fault him for that.”

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