Bachelor fans quickly turned on Arie Luyendyk Jr. when he dumped fiancée Becca Kufrin on national television in March, but the new Bachelorette says she feels no ill will towards her ex.
“He had to follow his heart,” Kufrin, 28, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I could never fault somebody for that. I forgave him.”
Watch the full episode of People Features: Becca Kufrin: In Love & Engaged!, streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.
And now, happily engaged to her pick on The Bachelorette, Kufrin says she has a better understanding of what Luyendyk Jr., 36, went through during their two-month engagement.
“When we were engaged, I realized how much he struggled,” says Kufrin. “Being in this position now and having to make tough decisions, I can empathize with him more. Trying to balance feelings for multiple people is not easy and there is no rule book for being in this position.”
And ultimately, Kufrin says that watching the season back as it aired (she and Luyendyk Jr. were engaged in November, but the season didn’t start airing until just before their January split), was therapeutic.
“It was insightful to see his relationships play out with all the other women,” says Kufrin. “I saw him really fall in love with Lauren and that helped me realize where his heart was.”
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Since After the Final Rose, “Arie and I have talked a little bit,” says Kufrin. “I truly wish him and Lauren the best.”
After all, she believes everything happened for a reason.
For more on Becca, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
“In hindsight, I appreciate that Arie did it when he did,” says Kufrin of the breakup. “And as weird as it sounds, I can only thank him, because it allowed me to go on this new journey to find the person who is a much better fit!”
The Bachelorette premieres Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.