Julianne Hough Is a 'Deeply Different Person Than She Was' When She Married Ex Brooks Laich: Source

"They are hoping to move forward as deeply loving friends forever who will always be supportive and encouraging of one another," a source tells PEOPLE of Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich

Julianne Hough once said she found "the one" in estranged husband Brooks Laich, but sources tell PEOPLE much has changed for the entertainer over the last year.

After nearly three years of marriage, the stars confirmed to PEOPLE exclusively on May 29 that they are separated following months of rumors surrounding their union.

"She is a deeply different person than she was when they got married, and she is proud of those differences and changes she's made and she doesn't want to go back," says a Hough source. "He is the man he is, and he shouldn't change a thing."

Last year, the Kinergy founder, 31, revealed to Women's Health that she had recently undergone a "massive transformation" and came out to her husband as "not straight."

julianne hough and brooks laich
Brooks Laich and Julianne Hough. Tonya Wise/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

"Brooks was determined to make it work, but he was constantly questioning what changes he needed to make for Julianne to be happy," says a source close to the retired hockey player. "He was fighting with this for months and it was very hard for him to let go of his marriage."

Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich
Ali Buck.

But after social distancing in separate states (Laich, 36, has been in Idaho since April while Hough has remained in their L.A. home), both parties realized they were better off apart.

  • For all the details on Julianne Hough and Brook Laich's separation and how they're moving on, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

"It really took the lockdown and them being separated for two months for him to realize that it is time to let go," says the Laich friend. "He has been happy living by himself in nature."

Now on the same page, the former couple — who met in late 2013 through mutual friends and wed in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, three-and-a-half years later — are determined to remain close.

"It took them a while to get here, but now they both understand that they shouldn't spend the rest of their lives together — not as spouses," says the Hough source. "They are hoping to move forward as deeply loving friends forever who will always be supportive and encouraging of one another."

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