"It's heartbreaking and disappointing to see how my relationship was depicted as something only surface level," she admitted

By Aurelie Corinthios
September 14, 2017 03:20 PM
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Danielle Lombard is telling her side of the story.

With Bachelor Nation still reeling from this season of Bachelor in Paradise, the reality star penned an emotional note about her relationship with Dean Unglert on Instagram — alongside an intimate photo of the two kissing! — insisting that while the reality show may have portrayed their connection as purely physical, it was much more serious that that.

In case you’re not caught up, Unglert was responsible for this season’s longest-running — and perhaps most heart-wrenching — love triangle. After weeks of jerking around Lombard and Kristina Schulman, he ultimately chose to pursue a relationship with Lombard. A heartbroken Schulman left the show, so fans assumed that Unglert and Lombard would give things a shot. But — plot twist — on the season finale, Unglert decided that he still loved Schulman and broke things off with Lombard. After the show wrapped, he briefly rekindled the romance with Lombard, though the two are no longer together. (He and Schulman, however, now appear to be on good terms.)

“I’ve always been criticized and ridiculed for my looks,” she began. “Making me work ten times harder to prove that my success comes from my ethics and not my physical appearance. I’ve held several jobs at once, bought my first car when I was 17, and opened my first business at 23 years old. It’s heartbreaking and disappointing to see how my relationship was depicted as something only surface level.”

“Dean and I’s connection was so much deeper,” she insisted. “Call us kindred spirits or free souls…our outlook on life and love was similar (or so I thought). Which is why we continued a relationship after the show.”

“However, just because I am looking for someone to ‘have fun with,’ explore the world, and try new things, does not mean that I don’t want monogamy,” she added. “Marriage is something that will happen when the right person comes into my life but I am not placing a time constraint on that.”

Lombard went on to admit that just because they never showed her crying or seeming upset, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t going through those emotions.

“This show was one of the most challenging, emotionally trying experiences I have endured,” she said. “Looking back, I never spoke negatively about anyone else. I never told Dean how he should feel or who he should choose. I wouldn’t change anything, all I can do is learn from it and move forward. There are so many other things that we can be investing our time and energy into — things that can improve and change the world. So please be respectful towards everyone. Spread more love, less hate.”

Earlier this week, all three stars appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss the situation, with Lombard defending her decision to use her date card on Unglert despite the fact that he had already formed a connection with Schulman.

“I knew that they had gone on a date on the show and I knew they had spent time together during the break, I just didn’t know the extent of their relationship,” said Lombard, 27. “Which is why when I got there, I talked to both the girls and Dean, and I’d pretty much confirmed that they weren’t in a committed relationship. Dean himself said that he wasn’t in a committed relationship and that he was willing to go on the date.”

Looking back, Unglert himself admitted his mistakes.

“I see looking back that maybe I could’ve handled things much better,” he said. “I did handle things pretty poorly. But you do get in that kind of Bachelor bubble where things are expected to happen very, very quickly. The break [in filming] kind of helped put things back into perspective of wanting to maybe slow down [with Schulman] a little bit, and that’s kind of why I came back with that mentality.”

“[When Schulman left], that was an incredibly tough night for me,” he continued. “I literally went to the producers the next morning, I was like, ‘I need to leave. I need to get out of here.’ I was so broken up about it. Watching [it] back I just know that I need to learn from it [and] be better in relationships.”

From left: Kristina Schulman, Dean Unglert, Danielle Lombard
| Credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty; Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty; Alison Buck/Getty

Unglert has also opened up to PEOPLE about why he led both women on.

“In the moment of filming, I didn’t realize what an a—hole I was being,” said the 26-year-old Colorado native. “Watching it all play back, it makes me realize that I need to change a lot of things about myself before I can actually pursue a relationship. It sucks to come to that realization that what you’ve been doing is just not right. To see how deeply upset Danielle and Kristina both were, it hurt.”

“In the moment, while I was filming, I just wanted to be honest and open about everything — including my feelings for both of them,” he added. “That way, if Kristina knew how I felt about Danielle, it left the ball in her court to decide if she wanted to be around or not. On the other side of that, it’s kind of annoying how the editing kind of portrayed my relationship with Danielle — that it was purely physical and that there was objectification involved. There was a lot more emotion. While Kristina and I were definitely emotionally attached as well. There was just a lot more to it. But it all boiled down to what I was doing.”