"My virginity became my identity on the show," says Colton Underwood of The Bachelor

By Aili Nahas
March 26, 2020 09:45 AM
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Colton Underwood knows there’s a question that everyone wants answered — whether or not the 28-year-old former Bachelor star, who famously revealed his virginity on the show, is still a virgin.

But Underwood, who has been with his pick, Cassie Randolph, for a year, is ready to move on, telling PEOPLE, “If you have a sex life, you typically never talk about it. People can take that however they want to at this point. But I’m respecting my values, and also the values of Cassie, my family and her family. We’re happy together. And people can assume whatever they want.”

  • For more from Colton Underwood, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

And ultimately, “I don’t want to be known as the virgin for the rest of my life,” says Underwood, whose revealing new memoir, The First Time, is available March 31. “There is so much more to me. And I let my story be controlled for too long. Now, I’m all about taking ownership.”

Cassie Randolph and Colton Underwood
Jim Wright

It was during Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette when contestant Underwood opened up about his virginity. When, after a stint on Bachelor in Paradise, he became the next Bachelor, Underwood was, in his words, suddenly, “The World’s Most Famous Virgin.”

Colton Underwood’s The First Time

Says Underwood: “My virginity became my identity on the show. I dealt with it, and I laughed at [the jokes], but I’m a lot more sensitive than people think. I could laugh things off, but it was also like, ‘Let’s keep this about finding love and not about getting me laid.’ ”

Underwood, who credits his faith and morals for why he chose to abstain from sex, bristled at The Bachelor‘s focus on intimacy.

Colton Underwood
Jim Wright

“It was a constant battle of ‘I signed up for a TV show, and I’ll put on a TV show,’ but it was also starting to wear on me,” he says. Sleeping in the same bedroom as contestant Tayshia Adams, “I felt so dirty,” says Underwood. “And I got to a point where I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ ”

Ultimately, when Randolph left the show, Underwood called it quits, leaving to pursue a second chance with her.

“I found somebody I wanted to be with,” says Underwood of Randolph. “And I wasn’t willing to give up.”

Now, as Randolph helps Underwood recover from COVID-19 (he’s currently self-isolating in her family home), he says he’s grateful for the journey.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he says. “Cassie and I are happy and that’s all that matters.”