Rick Rowell/ABC
July 17, 2015 08:45 AM

Their relationship may have had a fairy-tale beginning, but former Bachelorette hopeful Britt Nilsson and suitor Brady Toops only dated for a few weeks before she called it quits.

“Everything on paper was perfect,” Nilsson tells PEOPLE exclusively. “But we didn’t have that connection I was looking for. That was a hard conclusion.”

Says Toops: “What I felt for Britt was true and deep. I’m sad it didn’t work out.”

The romance between the Los Angeles-based waitress and the musician from Tennessee began when Nilsson, 27, lost the title of Bachelorette to Kaitlyn Bristowe this season. Toops, who says he fell for Nilsson watching her on The Bachelor, left the show in hopes of starting a relationship with his “crush.”

“It was a whirlwind,” Nilsson says. “Brady stayed in L.A., and for two weeks, we saw each other all day every day. At the beginning, I was like, ‘This is it. This is my guy.’ He checked off everything on my checklist.”

But after a trip to Nashville to visit Toops, 33, a couple of weeks later, Nilsson says she realized the two weren’t as in sync as she had hoped.

“He’s more of an introvert and I’m an extrovert,” she explains. “I’m just more loud and outgoing and I’m always on the go. Brady’s a little bit more meditative. We weren’t fed by the same things.”

The pair split, ironically, just as their love story was playing out for Bachelorette viewers during the ending credits of the show.

“That was pretty painful for us both, actually,” says Nilsson, who has remained close friends with Toops. “It was the weirdest situation. I’ve never had to watch an expired relationship play out on TV!”

For his part, Toops says he’s been channeling his heartbreak into his work.

“In the last month or two, I’ve written some of the saddest breakup songs ever,” he says. “Watching our story unfold on the show, remembering the beautiful parts of it, [didn’t] let that wound close.”

Still, Toops says he has no regrets about leaving the show for Nilsson.

“I want to see Britt happy,” he says. “I want to see her find the sort of love she longs for.”

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