After Michael Allio ended things with Sierra Jackson on last week’s Bachelor in Paradise, he didn’t know who he’d be getting a rose from at the upcoming rose ceremony. At that point, pretty much all of the remaining women on the beach were coupled up, and Michael was preparing to be sent home. However, just moments before the rose ceremony, Danielle Maltby arrived on the beach unexpectedly.
Michael and Danielle had previously spoken via social media about their shared tragedy: He lost his wife to cancer and she lost her fiance to a drug overdose before their respective appearances on The Bachelorette and The Bachelor. However, the two had never met in person, and Michael was thrilled to see his online friend show up in Paradise. They briefly spoke during the cocktail party, and Danielle gave Michael her rose at the rose ceremony.
The next day, Danielle got a date card, and took Michael on the date. Their connection was evident right off the bat as they spent the day on a boat, but it wasn’t long before Michael started getting in his head. “To actually be dating again, there is this feel good that I have to feel excited again, but then there’s also the grief element in my life,” Michael explained. “There’s just this weird thing that happens where I think I’ve found it and it feels good and then I get in my head and I push people away. On paper, Danielle and I are a perfect match. But I’ve been in love before. I know what it feels like. I know what it felt like the first time I met [my wife] Laura, and it’s not the same feeling I have with Danielle. I think I’m maybe comparing the first time we met and that spark and I’m not sure if that’s fair or not.”
Still, Michael went into the second half of the date knowing he had to put his guard down and let down his walls with Danielle. They had a very emotional, intense conversation. “I lost my fiance to a drug overdose,” Danielle told Michael. “There’s a lot of guilt that I really didn’t see what he was doing, but there’s also guilt around how happy I am and this person I’ve grown into. That wouldn’t have happened if it wouldn’t have been for this whole tragic event in my past.”
Michael then opened up about how losing his wife has affected his dating life. “I’m scared of hurting people. I don’t want my happiness to come at someone else’s expense,” Michael explained. “I don’t know if you experience this, too, but it’s like..you want to, but when it starts feeling real, the guards go up and you start to look for reasons, not for it to fail, but not approaching it with the asme open way that you normally would before a tragedy hit. Your farther along [with grief] than I am…does that stick around?”
Danielle admitted that what Michael was feeling is something that never goes away. “It took a lot to really stop breaking those patterns and realizing how much trauma I had faced and how much was still with me,” she shared. “There’s so many layers to unpack there. Like I found him. I did CPR. I called 911. So there was so much trauma around that situation. That might be why I’m still, ya know, cautiously entering these situations. But I think for a long time I was searching for someone when I wasn’t who I wanted to be yet.”
Michael got emotional when Danielle shared a song quote with him that always hit home for her: “I lit a fire with the love you left.” Michael was so touched by the entire conversation and told Danielle it was the “best first date” he’d ever been on. They ended the afternoon with a kiss. “I went into today knowing how important it was, without trying to put too much undue pressure on it,” Michael gushed. “I’m hopeful and there’s so much more to cover, but today has been the greatest day. Maybe it’s the last first date of my life.”