The Bachelor's Colton Underwood and Cassie Randolph Split: 'Some People Are Meant to Be Friends'
The Bachelor couple announced the news Friday on Instagram, two months after Randolph, 25, helped nurse Underwood, 28, back to health after he contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Both showed some love for the other's post, commenting with heart emojis.
"First off, I want to say this is one of the hardest things I have had to share as neither one of us is quite ready to talk about it yet," Randolph wrote. "However, because our relationship is such a public one, our silence on the matter has been speaking for us. Colton and I have broken up, but have decided to remain a part of each others lives. With all that we have gone through, we have a special bond that will always be there. I love Colton very much and have an enormous amount of respect for him. We have both learned and grown so much these past couple years, and will always have each others back. Always."
Underwood captioned his post, "Its [sic] been a crazy few months to say the least, Cass and I have been doing a lot of self-reflecting. Sometimes people are just meant to be friends — and that's okay. We both have grown immensely and been through so much together — so this isn't the end of our story, it's the start of a whole new chapter for us."
A source tells PEOPLE that the breakup "happened recently," adding that "they put a lot of thought into it. Ultimately, Colton and Cassie just weren’t on the same page. Colton really wanted to settle down and get married — he’s been ready for a long time. And Cassie just wasn’t ready. They both knew it wasn’t going to work.”
A second source adds: "This is definitely amicable. It was a mutual breakup. Colton and Cassie are still good friends, and they want to stay friends. It’s definitely a priority for them. Colton is sad, but he’s looking forward to what the future may bring."
The pair met on Underwood's season of The Bachelor, which premiered last year — though their journey was anything but smooth.
At first, it looked like the two weren't going to end up together when Randolph left the show after refusing to commit to a proposal from Underwood. But Underwood fought hard to win her back, even sending home the final two women. Ultimately, they left the show as a couple — but not an engaged one — after reuniting in Portugal.
Four months after the show ended, Randolph opened up about her change of heart to PEOPLE.
"I thought I made the right decision in leaving," she said. "But Colton fought for me. And he has shown me what a healthy relationship looks like."
Once they got back together, Randolph said Underwood "never put pressure on me."
"I think that's why we're still here today, because we took it at our own pace," she said. "We didn't want to rush something that was going to be forever."
For his part, Underwood said he didn't harbor any hard feelings about Randolph initially walking away.
"Resentment would be the last thing I feel for Cassie," he told PEOPLE at the time. "I have so much love and respect for her, and I have no doubts about how she feels about me now. Our story might not be like anyone else's on The Bachelor. But I wouldn't change anything about it."
But it wasn't always smooth sailing. In his recent memoir, The First Time, Underwood revealed that he and Randolph briefly split last August.
“To put it very frank, after the show, we realized we weren’t communicating as well as we once did,” Underwood told PEOPLE after the book was published in March. “Nobody was forcing us to talk about real things going on, so we let a lot of things build up.”
Ultimately, “in a weird way, I kind of broke up with myself,” he added. “I was like, I feel like we need to figure this out and in order to do that, we need space. She agreed. So it was a mutual thing.”
They soon reconciled, but Underwood said it "was a very real and very emotional breakup."
"It was also very good to be real and emotional because it forced us to have conversations and move on," he said. "Now, we know the flags to look for. When issues start to creep up, it's like, let's go have a conversation. We're trying to be more transparent and honest and really trust each other.