Kaitlynn Carter Says Marriage to Brody Jenner Was 'Very Real' Despite 'Public Debate'

"He became my best friend, and together we had all the fun the world had to offer," she said

Kaitlynn Carter is defending her brief marriage to Brody Jenner.

In a first-person essay for Elle published Monday, the Hills star said that her relationship with Jenner was “very real” despite not being 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.”

Carter, 31, and Jenner, 36, announced their split on Aug. 2, just over a year after their intimate Indonesian wedding.

She also admitted in the essay that she “wondered early on whether or not he was the right partner for me.”

Brody Jenner, Kaitlynn Carter
Donato Sardella/Getty

“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 of their split, 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 shooting The Hills reboot was “not good for them.”

Brody Jenner, Kaitlynn Carter
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

“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.”

Following the split, Jenner dated model Josie Canseco for three months.

Carter, meanwhile, entered a whirlwind romance with friend Miley Cyrus while the two were vacationing abroad last summer after their splits from their respective husbands, Jenner and Liam Hemsworth.

“This past July, I went on vacation with a female friend; the next thing I knew, I was in love with her,” Carter wrote in the essay. “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.’”

Miley Cyrus and Kaitlynn Carter
Kaitlynn Carter/Instagram

Carter 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.)

In the essay, Carter said that while her fling with Cyrus “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.”

PEOPLE confirmed in September that Carter and Cyrus had split but were still friends. Cyrus is now dating Cody Simpson.

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