Lauren Burnham is defending her man amidst all of the Bachelor backlash after the finale.
“I totally respect his decision to follow his heart,” Lauren tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “I don’t blame him for it, and I think it’s made us stronger in the end.”
She admits that she was initially skeptical when Arie first reached out to her, while he was still engaged.
“He texted me on New Year’s Eve, ‘I think this is maybe crossing the line, but I’d like to talk,'” she reveals.
“I did have some reservations” she says. “I was just afraid he would change his mind again.”
“I was just like, ‘We need to do it, you need to take the risk if this means a lot to you and you need to follow your heart. If not, then we don’t need to talk anymore. It was worth risking getting hurt again to see where it could go. We’ve had a lot of conversations about it, and I know he won’t change his mind again.”
“It makes things easier for me knowing that he was able to be with Becca outside of this experience and he still knew that wasn’t what he wanted. It gives me confidence in our relationship knowing that he truly wants to be with me and he took this huge risk to make it happen.”
The couple is already planning on taking their relationship to the next level by getting married and starting a family.
“I’m moving to Scottsdale and we’re both very excited about marriage and starting a family.”
“We tell each other we love each other 1,000 times a day.”