Kaitlynn Carter Opens Up About How She 'Fell' for Miley Cyrus: 'I'd Always Been Drawn to Her'

In a first-person essay, The Hills star also discusses how she and ex-husband Brody Jenner grew apart

For the first time, Kaitlynn Carter is opening up about her whirlwind romance with Miley Cyrus.

In a first-person essay for Elle published Monday, the Hills star explained how her feelings towards her friend Cyrus suddenly turned romantic while the two were vacationing abroad this summer after their splits from their respective husbands, Brody Jenner and Liam Hemsworth. (She does not name Cyrus, though.)

“This past July, I went on vacation with a female friend; the next thing I knew, I was in love with her,” Carter began. “It wasn’t quite that simple, of course. But it also wasn’t very complicated, either.”

“Until that trip, it had never crossed my mind that I was even capable of loving a woman the way I loved her,” she continued. “But after reflecting on my romantic history, I realized that I’ve never really had a ‘type.'”

Carter, 31, and Cyrus, 26, were first spotted kissing in Italy in August, around the same time Cyrus and Hemsworth announced their split. (Cyrus has insisted she was not unfaithful during their marriage.)

Miley Cyrus and Kaitlynn Carter
Kaitlynn Carter/Instagram

“As my friend and I spent that August traveling through Europe together and trying to move past our respective break-ups, my first and only romance with a woman was born,” Carter explained.

“I fell just as hard for her as I had the older man so many years before,” she continued, referencing her relationship with an unnamed man she also touched on in the essay. “It was that same familiar force of nature; I didn’t have to think about a thing or overanalyze. It just happened and it felt exactly right.”

“Reflecting back on our three-year friendship, I realized I’d always been drawn to her in a way I wasn’t with other friends,” she added. “But until that trip it had never crossed my mind to think of her in a romantic sense.”

PEOPLE confirmed in September that Carter and Cyrus had split, but were still friends. Cyrus has since moved on and is dating Cody Simpson.

In the essay, Carter said that while it “was short-lived,” she remained “eternally grateful” for their relationship “for opening my eyes to this unexplored part of myself, and for inspiring a new level of self-discovery and wonder at all the possibilities of life.”

“Although the relationship with my friend was often referenced in the media as merely a ‘summer fling’ or a ‘same-sex affair,’ it was so much more than that,” she wrote. “This was a profound journey of self-discovery. For the first time, I listened to myself, forgot about the ‘norm’, and lived.”

Miley Cyrus,Kaitlynn Carter

Carter revealed that she finds herself “attracted to people in a way that seems disconnected from sex and physical traits, and more connected to a person’s mind.” Reflecting on “why and how [her] brain had been programmed” to ignore her attraction to Cyrus, which “in retrospect seems so evident to [her],” Carter said she thinks it “was all just a matter of chemistry that had nothing to do with gender.”

“I still don’t feel like I’m in a place to label my sexuality one way or another, but I’m okay with that,” she wrote. “It’s something I’m still exploring and figuring out.”

“It’s been interesting to watch friends and strangers alike assume I’ll automatically revert to being attracted to men, as if they’re more familiar with my sexuality than I am,” she added. “Even I don’t entirely understand what my experience this summer means for me going forward — and it’s my experience.”

Carter also opened up about her relationship with Jenner, 36. The two announced their split on Aug. 2, just over a year after their intimate Indonesian wedding. They have since confirmed the union was not legally binding.

“The legitimacy of that marriage has become a matter of public debate, but for he and I, it was very real,” she wrote. “He was quite possibly the most beautiful man on the planet, with a heart of gold and a tireless sense of adventure. I was drawn to his spirit.”

Brody Jenner, Kaitlynn Carter
Donato Sardella/Getty

Still, Carter admitted she “wondered early on whether or not he was the right partner for me.”

“He became my best friend, and together we had all the fun the world had to offer. Eventually though, after years of constant ‘excitement,’ we found we’d done as much growing apart as we’d done growing up,” she continued. “I began to spend a lot of time traveling on my own or with friends, quietly mourning what I knew in my heart would soon be the end of my marriage.”

At the time, Carter and Jenner’s reps told PEOPLE the two had “decided to amicably separate,” adding that they “love and respect one another, and know that this is the best decision for their relationship moving forward.”

A source later told PEOPLE the two had been having “issues for years” and that The Hills reboot was “not good for them.”

“Doing The Hills magnified a lot of things in their marriage,” the source said. “And it became clear that it wasn’t going to work. They both knew it.”

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