Despite early reports, Peter Kraus is not our next Bachelor.
Many on social media are disappointed that the Wisconsin native won’t look for love again on TV. But a source close to production previously told PEOPLE that fan favorite Kraus was “never” the network’s first choice given that he wasn’t comfortable with the premise that lies at the very core of the ABC reality show: that it’s supposed to end with a proposal.
A Strong Start
By the end of the very first episode, Kraus, who runs a personal training company in Madison, had solidified his status as a fan favorite. Good looks aside, he seemed smart, kind and unaffected — not to mention an obvious front-runner of Lindsay’s.
Unsurprisingly, Kraus got the very first one-one-one date of the season, jetting to Palm Springs with Lindsay and her dog, Copper, to attend Bark Fest, which is essentially Coachella for dogs. Copper was in heaven, and Lindsay and Kraus were smitten.
FROM PEN: Rachel Lindsay on Meeting Her Dream Man on the Show — ‘I Found My Forever Love’
Though Kraus continued to appear in group dates here and there, securing rose after rose, his next big chunk of time with Lindsay came when he landed a one-on-one in Switzerland ahead of hometowns. The two took a helicopter out to the Alps, which marked the moment Kraus began to show the first inklings of his hesitations towards getting down on one knee. He confessed to Lindsay that he’d had been some “dark days” — and wasn’t always sure if he wanted to stick around.
Lindsay ultimately decided that Kraus was “worth the risk,” and the two went on to meet each other’s families. But as that unfolded, Kraus’ perspective on marriage — and his reluctance to propose after such a whirlwind courtship — came to light.
“I’ve gotten to know her fairly well and realized there’s definitely a connection there — but I don’t know her outside of this,” he admitted on his hometown date.
“I don’t know her on a daily basis, I don’t know what it’s like to wake up next to this person every day,” he continued. “The idea is in three weeks from today, I should be able to get down on one knee and propose to her. And it’s f—ing terrifying. Because I want to do that once in my life, and I don’t want there to be a shadow of doubt when that day comes.”
FROM PEN: Why Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay Didn’t Choose Peter Kraus
A Heart-Wrenching Goodbye
By the time the finale rolled around, Kraus was down to the wire. Although he certainly had very strong feelings for Lindsay, he’d also made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t ready to propose — which, of course, had become a major sticking point in their relationship, since Lindsay was adamant that she wanted to be engaged.
“I want a proposal, I want marriage. … I’m putting all of this out there, and he’s telling me he can’t give it to me,” she said. “It’s hard because I’ve done this before — I had a five-year relationship that I thought was moving towards marriage that never left the girlfriend-boyfriend stage. How do I know that it’ll leave that girlfriend-boyfriend stage with Peter if I agree to just date him?”
Their Fantasy Suite date came and went, but even after spending the night together, their predicament remained the same. On their final date, the two spent the day exploring a quiet, stunning monastery in Rioja, Spain, where they once again found themselves deeply engrossed in a conversation about their situation. With less than 24 hours until Lindsay had to make her decision and hand out the very last rose, the pressure was on — and she was growing increasingly frustrated. That night, she showed up at his hotel room.
“I am in love with you,” he told her. “That became very clear to me today. But these feelings are so recent. They’ve been growing to this point all throughout, but I don’t feel that I am ready to ask you to marry me tomorrow. But I don’t want to stop being with you.”
The conversation grew more and more intense, until eventually, they were both in tears. At one point, Kraus offered to make the sacrifice and propose — going against his core values — but Lindsay told him not to, knowing he would probably just resent her later on. Finally, they were forced to come to the painful realization that neither one was fully willing to compromise for the other. With that, they said their final goodbyes — but not without exchanging “I love you’s” between passionate, tear-soaked kisses.
An Awkward Reunion
After parting ways in Spain, Kraus and Lindsay didn’t communicate until months later, when they came face-to-face during a live After the Final Rose special on Aug. 7. The reunion was painful, awkward and tense as the exes relived their gut-wrenching split and discussed the finale in front of the audience.
“I’m shaking like a leaf right now,” Kraus admitted as he joined Lindsay on stage. “I’m terrified. This is hard.”
But speaking to PEOPLE at the time, Kraus said he felt Lindsay ultimately made the right choice.
“Relationships are all about sacrifice,” he said. “She and I had been having a conversation/borderline argument for about three hours [that last night]. I knew it was not going to end the way that I wanted. I knew the only way to keep her was to give her what it was that she was looking for. I decided that I would sacrifice my beliefs in order to prove to her that I was in love with her.”
“It was too little, too late,” he added. “She knew that it wasn’t where my heart was at the time. I think we probably would’ve resented each other for it if she had agreed. I do think she made the right decision in the end.”
No Second Chance
After the finale aired, it appeared unlikely that Kraus would be cast as the next Bachelor, with franchise creator Mike Fleiss making it clear via Twitter that producers wouldn’t pick someone who wasn’t ready to propose.
“Do we really want a Bachelor who isn’t ready to settle down with a woman he loves?” he tweeted in mid-August. “Hmmm. Not what #thebachelor is all about.”
At the time, a source told PEOPLE that Fleiss’ tweet was absolutely aimed at Kraus.
“Peter is every Bachelor producer’s worst nightmare: the perfect guy who cannot be coerced into proposing at the end,” the insider said. “The fact that no one could talk Peter into buckling under and just giving her the ring — and that he wouldn’t play along — absolutely enraged the higher-ups at the show. Including Fleiss, definitely. He is totally on their s— list forever.”
The new season of The Bachelor is expected to premiere in early 2018 on ABC.