"I met Chrishell and fell in love," said Graham Bunn

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It's been more than a decade since Graham Bunn and Chrishell Stause parted ways, but he still looks back on their relationship with fondness.

While appearing on the Click Bait with Bachelor Nation podcast on Thursday, the former Bachelorette contestant — who appeared on DeAnna Pappas Stagliano's season 4 — opened up about his past romance with Stause, whom he dated both before and after he appeared on the ABC reality series.

After returning from playing professional basketball in Germany, Bunn, 42, "had been in New York I think maybe a year" and "didn't really know anything other than basketball," he told Bachelor Nation's Joe Amabile, Tayshia Adams and Natasha Parker on the podcast.

While he was "trying to figure out" what his "path was in the world," Bunn, 42, was introduced to Selling Sunset star Stause.

"I met Chrishell and fell in love," said Bunn, who was 28 when they started dating for the first time. "I was like, 'This is the most adult relationship I've ever been in' ... even now."

But although their relationship was "incredible," it didn't last too long. When Stause, 39, was approached by ABC to be the Bachelorette, the pair parted ways. "Unfortunately for me, she was approached by The Bachelor to do the show," explained Bunn, who added that they "hadn't been dating long."

Chrishell Stause and Graham Bunn
Chrishell Stause and Graham Bunn
| Credit: Kelsey McNeal/Getty Images; CJ Hicks/Getty Images

Though Stause ultimately wasn't cast as a Bachelorette, Bunn still applauded her decision for pursuing the opportunity.

"I gotta give Chrishell all the credit in the world. She came to me — and I don't know if it broke any kind of legal agreement — but she said, 'Look, this is what's going on in my life. I feel like this is what's best for me and I want to pursue this avenue if it comes for me.' And I wished her well!"

"'Hey, I totally understand. We just met. We've only been dating a very short period of time. If it doesn't work out, maybe we'll see each other again,' " Bunn said about his mentality when they split.

Despite being broken up with, Bunn wasn't angry at Stause. "What's the play there? That I get mad at her and I send her off pissed off so she never talks to me again?" he explained.

While he was admittedly "disappointed" that she broke things off, he reiterated that they had only dated for a short period of time.

"For me, in my life, of course I'm going to fall hard for her. But you know, she was very open when we started dating. She was coming off of a really bad experience with someone in New York and she was very open about her expectations of our relationship. She was very strong-willed in her communication about, 'Hey, this is where I'm at and if you're okay with that, I would love to spend time with you. But if not, I totally get it — you have to do what's best for you,' " he remembered Stause telling him. "So when we had that conversation, I didn't have any legs to stand on outside of saying, 'Hey, I wish you the best.' "

He praised Stause for being "very honest and very caring. And she was very sweet about it."

Bunn said he "learned a lot about communication" while dating Stause. "I don't like uncomfortable conversations, and to her credit, she probably doesn't other, but she's really good at it," he shared. "So she walked away from the situation knowing that she had been honest, forthright and caring and then made me feel like, 'Hey look, it's not anything to do with us. We're great.'"

"And obviously — I mean, we were together for like, two years after the show," he added.

Chrishell Stause and Graham Bunn
Graham Bunn and Chrishell Stause at the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 premiere
| Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Bunn went on to compete on The Bachelorette in 2008, and following his own time on the show, he and Stause dated again.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Bunn told PEOPLE that they reconnected after his stint on the series. "We had dated off and on before that, but the timing wasn't right. We stopped seeing each other in December," Bunn said, adding that after The Bachelorette, "we were out with friends ... sparks flew."

Stause — who was on All My Children — was equally smitten with Bunn. "He's a really good boyfriend," she told PEOPLE at the time. "He's very sweet."

Now, nearly 13 years later, Bunn is grateful for their time together and what he learned from it.

"She taught me a lot," he said on the Click Bait podcast, "and I'm proud of her and I'm proud of her to this day. She seems happy and it looks like she's got a handsome gentleman in her life, so I think she's doing great," he added about Stause, who is now dating Dancing with the Stars pro Keo Motsepe.