‘The Bachelor’s Matt James Recalls When He Knew Rachael Kirkconnell Was ‘The One’

Despite Rachael Kirkconnell’s controversy at the end of Matt James’ season of The Bachelor, the two are giving their romance another shot. During a recent interview, James opened up about his relationship with the graphic designer, sharing how he knew she was “The One” and what helped them ultimately get their romance back on track.

Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell
Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell during the finale episode of ‘The Bachelor’ Season 25 | Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell fell in love during his season of ‘The Bachelor’

Bachelor Nation was introduced to Kirkconnell during Season 25 of The Bachelor. The Georgia native was a frontrunner from the beginning, as James seemed especially captivated by her and their meaningful interactions.

Kirkconnell eventually won James’ season and got his final rose. However, before the season finale, controversial photos of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum plantation-themed party surfaced online.

Some fans even dug up screenshots of racist Instagram posts that Kirkconnell had “liked,” including a photo of friends posing next to a Confederate flag.

The posts quickly circulated through the internet and made their way to James, who eventually called it quits from Kirkconnell.

RELATED: ‘The Bachelor’: Matt James & Rachael Kirkconnell Have a ‘Genuine Connection, Marriage Could Be in the Cards’ According to Relationship Expert

During the taping of the After The Final Rose special, James explained why he broke up with Kirkconnell, saying, “You want to believe that you know your person better than anybody else knows your person. When she spoke out and publicly acknowledged that she would do better and she apologized is when I was finally able to take check on myself and see where I was at, and I wasn’t OK…Rachael might not understand what it means to be Black in America… It’s work I can’t do for you.”

He continued, “And so when I questioned our relationship, it was in the context of you not fully understanding my Blackness, and what it means to be a Black man in America, what it would mean for our kids, when I saw those things floating around on the internet. And it broke my heart.”

Matt James had his ‘eye’ on Rachael from the very beginning

Though it seemed like James and Kirkconnell were over for good when the After the Final Rose special aired, it was later revealed that the two were working on their relationship after they were spotted in New York and Los Angeles together in April 2021.

A month later, E! News reported that the pair were “working on getting back together but are not putting pressure on their relationship.”

It didn’t take long for James and Kirkconnell to get their relationship back on track. Now, the two are back together and are committed to making their romance work this time around.

During a May 25 appearance on The Pomp Podcast, James got candid about his reconciliation with Kirkconnell, sharing the “ultimatum” she gave him before they decided to give their relationship another try.

RELATED: Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell Reportedly Discussing Moving in Together

“It was just a come to Jesus talk with Rachael where she was like, ‘If you’re going to make this work, let’s do it,” James said. “But, if you’re not going to make it work, then I’m going to let you do your own thing.'”

The former football player also opened up about the connection he had with Kirkconnell when they first met on his season of The Bachelor, noting that she caught his eye instantly.

“You have this connection, and you’re like, ‘I need to make sure this feeling is real,'” he explained. “And it’s validated over the course of the one-on-one dates and these group dates that you’re having.” 

With their chemistry pretty evident right off the bat, James had “an idea pretty early” that Kirkconnell was “the one.”

Matt James is smitten with Rachael Kirkconnell

Though it’s been a drama-filled journey for James and Kirkconnell, their romance seems to be going in the right direction this time around.

Though they plan to continue working on their relationship, James is very happy with how things are going so far. He even gushed about his girlfriend during the interview.

“The best thing about Rachael is her heart,” he shared. “She’s the most kind, caring person, understanding, I’ve ever met. Everything we’ve been through, everything she’s been through, she’s stuck right by my side. She’s continued to have a positive attitude toward everything. It’s one of the many things I love about her.”