Matt James struggled to decide how his journey would end on season 25 of The Bachelor. With just two women left — Rachael Kirkconnell and Michelle Young — Matt knew his heart wasn’t with Michelle. Normally, the lead meets up both final ladies at the last rose ceremony, and dumps one before getting engaged to the other. This time, though, Matt decided to end his relationship with Michelle beforehand.
Ahead of his final date with Michelle, Matt began having doubts about whether or not he was ready for an engagement. “I wish I could sit here and say I’ve got it figured out, but I don’t,” Matt admitted before his final night with Michelle. “I want to make sure that I can get there because I don’t know if I can at this point. I don’t know how this conversation’s going to go. I just want to lay everything out there — just put all the cards on the table and see where they fall.”
Michelle gave Matt matching jerseys to commemorate that she wants him to be her “teammate” for life. At that point, he knew he had to be open about how he was feeling and the doubts he was having. “Everything’s become real for me,” Matt told Michelle. “I’m sitting there last night thinking about these next steps and I’m just like…having doubts. I shouldn’t be having doubts about that. We’re a day or two away. This is the first time I’ve felt anything outside of wanting to be with you forever and having any doubt in my mind at this point, for me, is just scary. I’ve been pushing through that feeling today and trying to get there because of how I feel about you and what I know it could look like with you. I think the easy thing for me to do is tell you what you want to hear.”
At that point, Michelle realized what was happening, and she started crying. “I just want clarity on what this actually is or how you’re actually feeling,” she said. “Am I supposed to fight for you? Tell me where you’re at, actually.” Matt laid it on the line at that point, and admitted, “I don’t think I can get there with you.” Michelle broke down in tears as she walked Matt out, with their relationship officially over.
During After The Final Rose, Michelle got to confront Matt about the breakup for the first time. Before he arrived, she made a shocking revelation about how their relationship ended. “Afterward, I wasn’t okay,” Michelle said. “I needed to say my piece because I didn’t get the chance to. So I asked if I could talk to Matt for two more minutes — not to change his mind or get in the way of the relationship that was still there, just for me to say my piece. But he refused to have that conversation with me. I think I deserved the two minutes to get my closure and move on.”
Matt arrived, and he and Michelle finally got to have the conversation she’d been waiting for. “The moment you left, I completely crumbled,” Michelle told Matt. “I had to walk away without closure and I had to fill in the gaps about what our relationship really was. I wasn’t okay at all. Producers were in my room seeing how bad I was hurting. I asked you for a conversation. It wasn’t a conversation where I was trying to change your mind or fight for you. It was a conversation so I could have my inner peace when I left Pennsylvania. And you said no.”
“I just want to start by saying I’m sorry that you were going through that. There’s no justification for why I didn’t have that conversation,” Matt responded. “If i had known that this is how you were feeling, then I would’ve fought to have that conversation. What I can tell you, is when you showed up when you did, it was a breath of fresh air. I would just hope you know I really did care about you. Everything you shared with me and the way you carried yourself through the show, as a Black woman in your position, just showing grace and showing composure in a lot of times I would’ve snapped, my admiration and respect for you is through the roof. If i could do it over again, I would’ve had the conversation with you. All I can say now is I’m sorry.”
Michelle accepted Matt’s apology and said it “helped” her to hear that Matt’s feelings for her were real. She also seemed to get the closure that she needed and said she would look back fondly on her time with Matt.
Michelle was one of the women to arrive on the show after filming had already begun. She and four other women showed up ahead of the third rose ceremony. Michelle and Matt connected instantly, and their relationship continued to progress as the weeks went on. Unfortunately, Matt still didn’t see a future with Michelle, though, which is why he ended their time together.