Nick Viall may have found love with Vanessa Grimaldi on Monday's Bachelor finale, but breaking up with runner-up Raven Gates wasn't exactly easy

By Dave Quinn
March 14, 2017 10:06 AM

After two previous unsuccessful triesNick Viall finally found love on The Bachelorpopping the question to fiancée Vanessa Grimaldi on Monday’s season 21 finale of the hit ABC reality series.

But while Grimaldi might have gotten his final rose, runner-up Raven Gates found herself in the tough position of getting her heart broken on national television.

“It was terrible,” Viall, 36, told ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday. “It sucked, to be honest. Raven’s great and as I said last night, I certainly empathize with Raven’s position. I’d been in that position twice. It was very heartbreaking and difficult and I felt terrible.”

“There was no good way to do it,” Viall continued. “I certainly appreciate how gracious she was.”

Raven Gates and Nick Viall
Terhi Tuovinen/ABC

While that was tough, Viall is focusing on the love he has with Grimaldi — and basking in the relief of finally being able to take their relationship public.

“It feels great,” Viall said. “It’s very difficult to try to keep that secret. It’s been a long time for me in Bachelor world. It’s a good feeling to be engaged, to have Vanessa, to have this kind of chapter come to an end.”

The couple definitely experienced some tough times on the show, but Grimaldi said she wasn’t afraid of being too honest with Viall while filming.

“Like any relationship, you have your ups and downs,” she said. “Although we had tough conversations, we had a lot of fun and light conversations. So it was important for me to know we would be able to get past those hard conversations.”

“It wasn’t anything specific or fights,” Viall added of their struggles. “I think Vanessa and I just decided to be upfront with the fact that it’s difficult starting a relationship with The Bachelor and 29 other women, and it’s difficult to maintain that relationship long-distance while it’s being aired. And I think every couple before us has experienced those challenges and we decided to just be upfront about it and be open to the realities of our relationship.”

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As for Gates, she told PEOPLE she has no regrets about her time on The Bachelor and is proud of herself for leaving “everything on the table.”

Though being turned down was a sorrowful moment for the 25-year-old fashion boutique owner, she said she was “super realistic” throughout the entire process — which helped her come to peace with the outcome.

“The moment he told me that I wasn’t the one, I accepted it. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I was so emotionless is because I was processing what he was saying,” Gates explained about being turned down by Viall. “I was trying to accept what he was saying and I knew there was nothing I could say to change his mind and I felt I had left everything on the table so there’s nothing I could do differently … I think as soon as he told me I wasn’t the one I started the healing process right then and there. I accepted it, I didn’t question myself, I was confident in myself.”

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Now that she’s back home in Arkansas, Gates is moving on by returning to the familiar. “Going home, I just got back in the same routine that I usually am in — working very hard on my business, surrounding myself with family and friends and really just picked up the pieces as soon as I felt broken,” she said.

Since her romance with the man that she loved came to an end, Gates admitted that watching the season on TV “was kind of hard.” But she still has “a lot of happy memories associated” with both the process and Viall himself — and wished him and Grimaldi nothing but happiness.

“I hope everything works out the way that they want it to,” Gates said. “I hope that Nick gets everything he wants in life. I think he deserves it and I feel like I know him on a really intimate level that I just want everything that he wants in life. I hope all of it comes true, all of his dreams.”

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