Matt James and Ex Rachael Kirkconnell Are Not Back Together: They're 'Just Friends,' Says Source

Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell’s romantic relationship came to an end after racially insensitive photos of her surfaced on social media

Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell remain on separate paths in the aftermath of his whirlwind Bachelor season.

Despite some fan speculation that the former couple have gotten back together since announcing their split, a source close to James tells PEOPLE that he and Kirkconnell "are just friends."

"They are not together. He supports her as a friend. He is not looking for a relationship," the insider says. "Matt is focused on engaging in meaningful projects in the community at this time."

Though James and Kirkconnell left season 25 of The Bachelor as a couple and remained together for a period of time after the cameras stopped rolling, their romantic relationship came to an end after photos of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum plantation-themed party in 2018 surfaced on social media. She has since apologized and said that she is "learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist."

Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell
Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell. Craig Sjodin/ ABC (2)

During an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast last month, James, 29, reflected on his relationship with Kirkconnell. When asked if he would consider being in a relationship with Kirkconnell, 24, down the line, the former Bachelor said, "I don't think that anyone's irredeemable."

"And, I think that for Rachael, there's a lot that we didn't discuss that we probably should've talked about. I probably should've asked more clarifying questions. And I'm giving her that space to do that," he continued.

James, the first Black Bachelor, told Simmons he found out about Kirkconnell's resurfaced photos "just like everybody else did" — through social media — and that it was "heartbreaking" to find out they were real.

Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James
Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James. Rachael Kirkconnell/ instagram

"The tough thing is having to explain to America why those pictures are problematic to me," he said. "You hear people harping on forgiveness and I forgave her when she told me. That doesn't mean I'm not disappointed and that I don't want her to do better."

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As James continues to heal from their split, the real estate broker said he won't be dating while he jumps back into doing "meaningful work in the community."

"In the meantime, I'm working on myself. I'm not going to be dating," he said. "I'm just solely focused on getting back into that meaningful work in the community and centering myself around projects that are going to elevate all the work that I've been working on doing in the city and special interest things that I appreciate outside of reality television."

Updated by Natalie Stone
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