"And that was surprising! It's very painful," Fletcher tells PEOPLE
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC/Getty

JoJo Fletcher faced heartbreak on The Bachelor after Ben Higgins told both her and his future fiancée Lauren Bushnell that he loved them.

But Fletcher, who met 26 eligible men during Monday’s The Bachelorette premiere, admits more than one person captured her heart during her time as The Bachelorette.

“I fell for more than one guy. And that was surprising! It’s very painful,” Fletcher tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

The Dallas-based real estate developer, 25, says being The Bachelorette was an emotional and complicated experience.

“If I only had feelings for one guy, it would have been smooth sailing. But each relationship was so important to me,” says Fletcher. “When you get to the end, it can get really confusing.”

For more about JoJo Fletcher’s journey to find love, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Fletcher says that the experience taught her to trust her own judgement.

“There were twists and turns and things I wasn’t expecting. But I’m stronger. I’ve grown even more. And I’m happy,” she says.

Fletcher also opens up about Higgins, 28.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment we broke up. Ben was one of the greatest loves of my life. But I learned from the experience,” she says. “And seeing Ben’s relationship with Lauren helped me accept what it is and be happy with the outcome.”

The Bachelorette airs Mondays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.