“When [Cena] proposed, he convinced [Bella] that he was a changed man. And if he can change his mind about never wanting to get married, why wouldn’t he change his mind about not wanting kids?” a source tells PEOPLE.
“They have had an on and off relationship for years. It’s no secret that they didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but, when you’re in love, you turn a blind eye. And that’s what Nikki did,” the source says.
Adding, “When Nikki changed her stance about wanting kids, everyone knew that wasn’t her. You can’t take motherhood away from a woman.”
“John acted more and more like he was doing her a favor by somehow conceding to go ahead and marry her,” the insider said. “[Nikki] doesn’t need a pity proposal, a pity wedding, a pity husband. She’s a phenomenal, tremendous woman.”
Cena and Bella announced that they called off their engagement on Sunday, a year after he proposed during WrestleMania 33. The couple was scheduled to marry on May 5 during their planned destination wedding.
WATCH: When Was the Last Time Nikki Bella & John Cena Went on a Date?
Their relationship — as well as their discussions about marriage and kids — have been documented on the hit E! reality shows Total Divas and Total Bellas. “I do want to be a mom,” Bella told Cena in 2013 on Total Divas. “I feel like I’d be missing out.”
“I’m going to choose my words carefully,” Cena replied. “I can’t give you that.”
Even Bella’s twin sister, Brie, told Cena she felt like her sister was “lying to herself” in 2014 when he discussed his no kids policy.
“Nicole and I were talking and she brought to my attention that she’s over marriage, she doesn’t want to have kids anymore. It was a little alarming to me,” Brie said. But Cena stressed that he’s always been open and honest with Bella about not wanting children.
“I was abundantly clear about that from our very first date,” he said. “It wasn’t like I tried to manipulate your sister into thinking a certain thing was going to happen and then all the sudden say ‘Ha ha.’ I love this girl, but I love my life,” he said.
Total Bellas returns May 20 at 9 p.m. ET on E!