Jason Mesnick infamously dumped Melissa Rycroft during the live season finale for his runner-up and now-wife, Molly

By Aurelie Corinthios
August 07, 2020 11:00 AM
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For the first time since she was dumped on camera over a decade ago, Melissa Rycroft is returning to The Bachelor.

Monday's episode of ABC's retrospective series The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever! will look back on Jason Mesnick's infamous season 13. In 2009, Mesnick proposed to Rycroft on the finale, only to end things with her on live national television during the After the Final Rose episode to pursue the runner-up, his now-wife Molly Mesnick. The two share daughter Riley Anne, 7, and Mesnick also has son Tyler, 8, from a previous marriage.

In PEOPLE's exclusive sneak peek, Rycroft, 47, appears via video chat from her home in Dallas, Texas. After playing a snippet of the brutal breakup, host Chris Harrison asks Rycroft for her initial reaction to the retrospective episode.

"What was your first thought when you heard, hey, we're going to go back and watch your season of The Bachelor?" he asks.

Rycroft playfully groans.

"Gosh," she says. "Well, first, I've still never seen my season of The Bachelor. I've never seen that infamous After the Final Rose. I've seen clips and stuff."

"It's weird, I'll be honest," she continues. "It's just really surreal, because it feels like a lifetime ago. It feels like I was a different person then."

ABC/MATT KLITSCHER; ABC

Mesnick may have been the first, but he isn't the only Bachelor to dump his final pick for his runner-up. In 2018, Arie Luyendyk Jr. ended things with Becca Kufrin to pursue Lauren Burnham —  and they're still together. Most recently, Peter Weber called it quits with Hannah Ann Sluss over his unresolved feelings for Madison Prewett, though their rekindled romance was short-lived.

"It wasn't a good look 10 years ago, and it isn't a good look now," Rycroft told PEOPLE while Luyendyk Jr.'s season was airing. "Arie saw what happened our season with Jason and he talked to Jason before he did this, and yet he still made the move."

But Rycroft, who is a mom of three with husband Tye Strickland, said her situation with Mesnick was different.

"I think when Jason proposed to me, he genuinely thought it was me and was being honest about his feelings," she said. "He realized the relationship didn't work, and that's how it ended. But with Arie, no woman out there wants to hear you picked me because I was safe, because the woman you really wanted you think would have rejected you. Even if you are feeling that, don't say it!"

The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever! airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.