The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC

By Nick Viall
February 14, 2017 11:32 AM
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He was devastated twice on The Bachelorette and had a summer fling on Bachelor in Paradise, and now Nick Viall is looking to find a love that lasts as The Bachelor‘s latest leading man. Read his exclusive blog for PEOPLE every week and follow him at Twitter, @viallnicholas28!

Hi guys, I know we just came off a pretty emotional week, and I left things off on such a low point. Saying goodbye to Danielle L. really hit me hard. I think I explained it best when sitting down with Chris Harrison that I just started to distrust my own judgment. I started to obsess over my fear of this not working out, and I felt terrible for worrying the women. I let my fears and emotions get the best of me, which, I suppose, was bound to happen at some point.

After giving myself some time to think, and reflecting on what I had with the women left it became clearer and clearer. When I focused on the relationships I had built with the six women I just had totally freaked out, I realized that I had a really good chance of this ending the way I always hoped. I was sure that my next decision was the right one, and that meant leaving St. Thomas behind.

I have a habit of getting into my head too much, so all I really wanted to do was roll with this fresh day and reboot of emotion. I thought to myself, after all this, Who needs a rose ceremony?! I had put these women through enough, and so it became time to leave the negative energy behind and head to the beautiful Island of Bimini.

To Bimini and beyond! I had heard so much about this little beautiful island and I couldn’t have been more excited to share it with the women. Small fact: This was the place where the last scene of Silence of the Lambs was shot! I attempted a reenactment of this scene just for fun but failed being the only guy on the small dirt road, and so I ended up just reciting movie lines to imaginary people. However, it was still oddly fun. But anyway, back to what we were talking about.

This was a huge week for me. With hometown dates just a week away, that meant figuring out which four relationships were the strongest. I was eager and so optimistic to deepen my connections and figure out who I could see a future with.

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From outer space to the depths of the ocean, I was so excited for my date with Vanessa to build off the strong start we had. The SS Sapona shipwreck, is such a cool site. It was a beautiful and adventurous moment to share with Vanessa. It was also maybe risky and dangerous being so close to rusted metal? But no matter how dangerous a date might seem, Vanessa and I always find our way to one another and have the best time.

It was a really good feeling when Vanessa told me she was falling in love. Up until this point, when someone had opened up to me I had realized that I could never feel the same way. I knew I felt strongly for Vanessa, but it was important for me to slow things down. There were still other women — other women that I also had strong feelings for. I didn’t want to take away from this beautiful moment, but I’ve been hurt when too much was said too soon. All I could do was be honest with Vanessa in this moment, and I hoped that it wouldn’t change anything that was happening between us.

I was pumped heading into the group date with Raven, Corinne and Kristina. I felt like all three of these relationships were heading in the right direction. Kristina and I were just coming off a great one on one in St. Thomas; Raven and I had an epic one on one in Wisconsin, and Corinne and I always seemed to have steady progress.

Having this be the last group date ever, I decided to plan something crazy and hoped that the women would all be bold enough to test the waters with me. I mean who swims with sharks without a freakin’ cage?! (Well, other than Alexis of course, sharks are her ancestry after all.)

This was easily one of the most terrifying things I have every done. Seriously, I was trying to put on a good face with the women, but I was truly terrified. It was such a rush to see the sharks swimming around us. We were all pretty scared but after getting settled I think for all of us this became such an amazing. memorable experience. Given the tension going into the date and knowing what was on the line, I was happy with how much fun we all had.

Going into this evening there was a lot at stake. I’d be giving out my first rose that would bring me to someone’s hometown to meet their family. Having introduced both Andi and Kaitlyn to my family, I knew just how important all four of the roses would be this week. Meeting someone’s family can affect a relationship so drastically. Usually for the best, but you never know. I needed to think about which relationships were ready for such a big step. And it all started with this group date.

Going into that evening I knew that Corinne would probably be disappointed about not getting a one-on-one. But the evening we had in New Orleans after the two-on-one did a lot for our relationship. I felt like we had made a big push in our connection that date. When I think of Corinne, I always feel like her confidence prevails — and that is what I really appreciate about her.

Watching this episode back, I feel bad about how hard she took not getting a one-on-one. But, honestly, she always impressed me. Hearing Corinne talk about me meeting her family and the possibility going to her home was one of the first times I saw her be truly vulnerable. It was a new side to Corinne I knew was always there, but she was finally ready to show me.

Reconnecting with Kristina after such an amazing one-on-one the week prior just solidified the strong feelings I was really felt. The emotional connection I felt with Kristina started later than most of the women there in Bimini, but it was certainly something I was excited about. I felt so good about each conversation I had, but there was only one woman that felt was totally ready for such a big step with. And that was Raven.

My relationship with Raven was easily one of the strongest and had been for some time. Ever since our first date, our connection grew stronger and stronger. I knew I wanted to meet her family. She spoke so fondly about her parents and brother, and opened up about her father’s battle with cancer. When she described the closeness of her family, I couldn’t help but see myself wanting to be a part of it. Giving that rose to Raven meant moving our relationship forward and envisioning what could be the start of a life together. Finishing our night dancing under the stars to Adam Friedman was the perfect end to a date — and an awesome start to big things to come.

Onto the next date with the lovely Danielle. Danielle and I had a great first date and it gave our relationship such a strong start. So heading into this one-on-one I was hoping that we hadn’t lost that momentum. Danielle is a beautiful, kind-hearted and has so many qualities I’m looking for in a partner. But throughout the day I couldn’t help but feel like we were suddenly missing that spark. Our relationship seemed to lack some of the ease I felt with the other women.

As our date headed into the night, I knew something had to change for me or I might have to make the terribly hard decision to say goodbye. Danielle has already experience tremendous heartbreak. I couldn’t help but feel that, even though I cared so much for this woman, we were not going to get back to the place we were on our first date. As the evening progressed with the thought of maybe meeting Danielle’s family in my mind, I knew something was missing and it was time to say goodbye. I knew I just wasn’t ready for that next step. I wish nothing but wonderful things for Danielle. She deserves an amazing man and a life full of happiness.

I was upset to say goodbye to Danielle, but I tried to take our goodbye as a step forward. St. Thomas was such a rough week I couldn’t bear the thought of working myself up again. I was just reflecting on how the week had been going so far when there was a knock. I was totally shocked when I opened the door.

If I’ve learned anything from my time on this show, a knock on the door usually means something crazy is going to happen. I was surprised to see Corinne, but quickly realized this was a friendly visit and not a breaking up with you visit. Now, it is no secret that in the past — on Kaitlyn’s season, to be more specific — I’ve had sex before the Fantasy Suite. I don’t regret anything, but I certainly have learned from that. I knew that in this moment and moving forward I didn’t want to rush into anything and complicate a relationship. Especially before meeting multiple families on the horizon. I put a stop to things after some kissing and said goodnight. I wasn’t ready to make such a commitment to Corinne or anyone for that matter.

After such a roller coaster of a night, first saying goodbye to Danielle and then having a late visit from Corinne, I couldn’t have been more excited about my date with Rachel. There is no denying how I feel when I’m with Rachel and just how much I enjoy being with her. In a world where I’m constantly in my head, being with Rachel puts me at ease. Every moment is fun, relaxing, and full of chemistry.

It was cool to take Rachel to a bar more commonly known by just the locals. The bartender was one of the coolest guys that I had ever met. He shared so much history about Bimini as well as some pretty great life advice. I loved his line about needing Rachel not just wanting her. I think he hit the nail on the head with that because I felt like Rachel and I continued to grow our connection with so much ease and excitement about what lay ahead.

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I knew before going into that week that I had been wanting to meet Rachel’s family during hometown dates and so when we spoke about the week that lay ahead this was the first time we ever talked about race. To us, it never seemed to matter. But meeting her family was important to me and after our conversation I knew that race would continue to be something secondary to the connection we had.

With the week coming to a close, I felt overall that every date was filled with some really special moments. The five women remaining were all unbelievable. Saying goodbye to Danielle was difficult and heartbreaking, but knowing I had one more goodbye felt like my heart was breaking into a millions pieces.

The more I thought about it the more I just kept coming back to Kristina. I felt so strongly for Kristina. She melted my heart in so many ways, but I just knew deep down I had stronger connections with the other women. I couldn’t stand the idea of taking Kristina further only for it not to work out. As hard as it would be to say goodbye to her now, it would have been 100 times harder for both of us if I took a leap and then said goodbye in another week. That goodbye was easily the most difficult moment I had up until that point. It was hard to process how I felt knowing how deeply I cared for her. I just had to trust myself that I was making the right decision.

Grab your sunglasses and rain boots cause we’re headed across North America to meet some families! Things ramp up as I visit Corinne, Raven, Rachel and Vanessa’s families … but it isn’t all smooth sailing. In just a week I wa pulled over by the cops, challenged with the imprint an ex left, met the infamous Raquel and received life-altering news that will change one family forever. Oh, and how can I forget? One woman comes back whom I never expected. You won’t want to miss it.

Thanks for reading,
Nick

The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.