Whirlwind is over. Clayton EchardAnd Susie EvansSix of them have been split after the dramatic season 26 finale The Bachelor.
“With incredibly heavy hearts, we wanted to share that we have decided to go our separate ways. For anyone who has ever loved, knows this was a painful decision to make and not one taken lightly,” they wrote in a joint statement on Friday, September 23. “We understand that there will likely be a lot of questions about this decision — social media is definitely a highlight reel and much of our experiences together we have kept private as I’m sure most can understand. But we will share this — although this last year together has brought us so much joy and so many laughs, there has also been a significant amount of pain. We know no healthy relationship comes without its struggles, but we’ve realized that we were not prepared for the external forces that hindered our ability to not only heal as individuals but also as a couple. We both are focused on continuing to work on ourselves, so we can be the best version of ourselves.”
The pair continued: “This is not an easy time for either of us but we stand in support of each other and hope to see the other go on to find happiness and healing. Claysie is gone, but we hope that our communities will support us as we move forward together with love and respect. We are grateful to everyone who supported our relationship. It means more than you’ll ever know. ❤️”
This news comes a month after the couple announced that they were moving to different states. Clayton is returning to Arizona while Susie is moving to Los Angeles. Susie and Clayton lived together in Virginia Beach.
The 28-year-old former football player and the 29 year old videographer met while filming their season of ABC’s dating series. It premiered in January. Susie was granted two one-on-1 dates. They made it to fantasy suite week where they encountered a major roadblock. When the Virginia native revealed that she wasn’t comfortable with Clayton being intimate with the remaining two women, the retired athlete confessed that he had sex with both Gabby WindeyAnd Rachel Recchia. He also revealed to each of the finalists that they were his love.
“I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore,” he said before sending Susie home during their blowup argument. “You just dropped a bombshell on me, and I don’t agree with it at all how you went about it. I think it’s BS … I’m sorry that I even raised my voice. It’s because I cared so much, I really did love you. … Anything you say to me at this point doesn’t matter to me anymore, so I’m going to walk you out.”
After Clayton left Gabby, 31, as well as Rachel, 26, whom he had introduced to his parents, in Iceland, part two of the finale saw Susie return. Despite the Missouri native’s efforts, Susie ditched him at the final rose ceremony and left the series solo.
“I had to make that decision for myself. It was the best decision that I could have made. … [But]Clayton was always someone I loved. I always had love in my heart,” she explained during the After the Final RoseThe couple reconnected and began dating after the show, which was revealed in March. “I loved him as a person before I ever fell in love with him.”
The BacheloretteHost, on the other hand, was told by alum Jesse Palmer that the ups and downs were “[a] thousand percent” worth it in the end. “She just impresses me more and more every day. And she continues to give me reason after reason why following my heart was the best decision I could have ever made,” Clayton gushed. “I could not be more in love with this woman.”
After the twist-filled finale to the season, reality stars exclusively told Us Weekly that they felt “there’s nothing wrong with either way we went about the process” — despite Bachelor Nation’s strong opinions.
“What we could have done better was just have more empathy for each other and be able to understand the other person’s perspective while we were in that moment,” Susie explained in March. “But our minds were living in different realities at that point. And we’ve since been able to come to the same reality, but when you’re there, it’s such a tough environment and we’re just fortunate that we are able to get to the other side and be so happy and confident where we are now.”
As far as Clayton’s love for Gabby and Rachel, who are both set to lead season 19 of The BacheloretteThe University of Missouri graduate told the story Us that “it got to the point where I was only in love with Susie” and he was only “falling in love” with the others.
“I only think you can be in love with one person. You can fall for many, but you can only be in love with one,” he added. “And that’s where I made a mistake. I was confused on the show, and I believed that I was in love with multiple women, but I’ve since realized that I don’t think I was.”