‘The Bachelor’: Why Did Matt James’ Dad Leave His Family?

Last night’s episode of  The Bachelor was hard to watch for several reasons, but the biggest was Matt James’ confrontation with his father, Manny. Throughout the season, Matt has mentioned growing up with only his mom present but he never really got into the details of why his dad was not in his life. During last night’s episode, fans got more clarity on what happened between them and why Matt’s dad left.

Matt James walking through the woods alone on Matt James' 'Bachelor' season
Matt James on ‘The Bachelor’ | Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

How has having an absent father affected Matt?

Throughout the season, Matt has admitted that he hasn’t been able to have serious, long-term relationships. Last night, he opened up about how seeing his parents’ relationship has affected him.

“I guard myself. When tough conversations came up, I ran from them,” he said. “There’s still a lot of fear about what a long-term commitment looks like based on what I’ve seen in my family in the past. That’s not healthy. That’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to the women I’m pursuing.

“That’s not something I want to carry with me,” he continued. “Harboring that negativity in my life hasn’t progressed any of my relationships. It’s hindered my growth. For me to move forward, I need to address those demons in my life. Hopefully today’s the first step in doing that.”

Why did Matt James’ dad leave?

When Matt sat down to talk to Manny, it seemed like Manny was under the impression that the conversation would be of a happy nature, but it quickly turned left.

RELATED: ‘The Bachelor’: Does Rachel Lindsay Accept Chris Harrison’s Apology?

“I want to have a family,” Matt said. “I want to be a dad. I want to be a father. What that means to me is showing up, having tough conversations, being there. When I needed you, you weren’t there to have those conversations. You started other families. That affected me. I need to know where your head was at, so I don’t make those same mistakes going forward.”

Manny then revealed that he grew up without a father after his own dad was killed when he was five. He also told Matt that it was his mother who left him and not the other way around. Manny alleged that when he came home one day, Matt’s mom was gone and had taken the kids with him.

“For good reason! Who wants to be with someone who’s not going to be faithful to them?” Matt said. “I thank God that she had the courage to stand up for herself and do something because of the situation you put her in.”

Manny did eventually admit that his infedility was not right and promised to do better.

How does Matt James feel about the conversation with his father?

After the episode aired, people began to express discomfort at the image of yet another Black man being portrayed negatively for mostly white audiences. Matt addressed those concerns via Twitter.

“Tonight’s convo with my dad was hard to experience, and it’s just as hard to watch all this time later, especially knowing the world is watching with me,” James wrote in a Twitter thread.

“I just wanted to say that too often, we see dangerous stereotypes and negative depictions of Black fathers in media,” he continued. “And they have consequences when presented without context. All I hope is that people watch that conversation with nuance, care, and also an understanding that there are real systemic issues at play. I’m so proud of myself for being vulnerable, and I’m so proud of my mother. I wouldn’t be who I am without my dad. That’s a fact.”