“Taking a rose when you’re [sic] heart’s not in it is ‘leading someone on,’” the Ohio native, 38, captioned a Saturday, October 22, TikTok video, noting the duo’s unexpected split was a “surprise” to many cast members and producers. “Choosing to end my only relationship when I was gifted a constellation and didn’t have a rose was not a ‘good look’ but I knew that.”
He continued “I still should [have] handled the breakup better, that’s on me.”
Michael’s candid comments accompanied a TikToker’s theory about why he chose to end his relationship with the 27-year-old Bachelor season 26 alum before the episode’s rose ceremony.
Michael and the yoga instructor sparked an instant connection upon the Bachelor in Paradise premiere, which aired last month. However, the business owner realized his feelings had changed during the October 10 episode. After Sierra gifted Michael a trio of stars — named for him, late wife Laura and son James — he ultimately called it quits on their romance and hoped to remain platonic friends.
“[Sierra] exhibits all of the characteristics that I’m looking for in a partner, but I’m noticing that every time I take a step forward, I start taking a few steps back because I’m guarded and I’m concerned based on my traumatic past finding its way to the surface,” Michael, whose late wife died in 2019 after battling breast cancer, said during a confessional interview. “I’m dealing with the grief element in my life. There’s just this weird, weird thing that happens where I think I’ve found it, it feels good, and then I get in my head and I push people away. And I feel really bad about that.”
Sierra, for her part, decided to leave the beach following their breakup.
“Just know … I’m OK & well,” the ABC personality wrote via her Instagram Story after the episode aired. “At the time, I knew what I could/couldn’t handle mentally & emotionally. I had enough self-awareness to recognize that staying on the beach wasn’t in my best interest. I didn’t see it playing out in a positive way, so I thought it best I go home.”
Michael stayed on the beach, hoping a new arrival would show interest and give him a rose. Danielle Maltby arrived ahead of the rose ceremony during the Monday, October 17, episode, remarking that she wanted to get to know the single father after they connected via social media before BiP.
The Bachelorette season 17 alum’s new romance soon sparked fan backlash as viewers questioned the pair’s history and if he was ready for a relationship.
“I think at the end of the day, Sierra is a fantastic person and I love her so much. From what we gathered when we were down on the beach, it was more so that Michael, maybe, didn’t feel it with Sierra,” Jared Haibon — who visited the BiP season 8 cast alongside wife Ashley Iaconetti — exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, October 18. “It was more about his connection with Sierra than it was, ‘He’s not ready for a relationship.’”
The 33-year-old Audrey’s Coffee Shop owner added: “[Fans are] like, ‘Oh, we want it to be about love.’ And then you have two people who are in love and they’re like, ‘Well, we don’t wanna see that. We wanna see drama.’ And then they bring in drama and then they’re like, ‘Well no, this is supposed to be real love.’ And it’s like, ‘Well, come on now.’”
While Jared and Ashley, 34, are on board with Michael’s connection with the neonatal nurse, 37, Sierra felt “highly disrespected” after watching their date.
“I’m gonna go meditate. #bachelorinparadise,” she wrote on Monday, calling Danielle’s arrival convenient. “He said ‘a little bit of history’ 🧐.”
Michael later noted in his Saturday TikTok that he did not know the Nashville resident was coming on the show, refuting the allegations against him that his actions were premeditated.
Bachelor in Paradise airs on ABC Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.