Despite speculation that the couple called off their wedding as a publicity stunt for their show Total Bellas — “I don’t buy any of these reasons for the breakup,” one person commented on Bella’s latest Instagram — a source tells PEOPLE “they truly broke up.”
“Cancelling the wedding was not a hoax or a publicity stunt,” says the source, adding that they lost deposits on the wedding planned for May 5. “This hasn’t been a quick or cheap decision, and it was a real one.”
“John needed to have his bluff called. He said so many times that if Nikki really wanted kids, she should leave him. So you know what? She left him,” says the source. “I don’t think John ever really thought she would do that— that she wouldn’t keep just caving in and giving him exactly what he wanted, exactly how he wanted it.”
Cena, who openly admits that he still loves Bella, is now working to get her back and repair any damage to the relationship.
“He knows he screwed up, and he knows he has to fix this,” the source says.
And it seems Bella is also open to reconciliation.
“She’ll take him back, definitely. She loves him, and she knows he loves her desperately. They’ll get back together and they’ll get married,” says the source, adding that any future wedding will be a small, intimate affair. “The wedding they called off no longer felt like their wedding— it was a wedding for TV, a wedding for publicity, a wedding for the fans and for viewers almost. That’s what made them able to walk away from it— it didn’t even feel like their day anymore.”
The source says that taking a break could make them stronger than ever.
“In the end, calling it off is going to be the best thing that ever happened to their relationship.”
RELATED VIDEO: John Cena and Nikki Bella End Engagement Weeks Before Destination Wedding
On Monday, Cena, 40, said he’s now open to the idea of having children.
“I love her. I want to be with her. I want to make her my wife,” he said on the Today show. “I want to be the father of her children. I just want us to work.”
Bella opened up about the split three days after what would’ve been her wedding day.
“Staying at Brie’s because you all know why,” Nikki, 34, said in a video posted May 8, referring to her twin sister’s home in San Diego.
“I just wanted to say hi to you guys. I know I’ve been MIA, and I’ve kind of been hiding out. But I wanted to reach out to you all and thank you all for your love and support,” she continued. “Can’t tell you how much it meant to me, especially through a really difficult time.”
Total Divas returns this fall, and season 3 of Total Bellas premieres May 20 at 9 p.m. ET, both on E!