'Bachelor' Clayton Echard on His Emotional Journey and Crying Plenty of Tears This Season (Exclusive)

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Clayton Echard is more than ready for Bachelor fans to watch his journey to love.

The 28-year-old made his Bachelor Nation debut as a suitor on Michelle Young's season of The Bachelorette. He sparked rumors of his casting as the next lead after E! published photos of a man that resembled him filming what appeared to be a promo shoot for the show outside of a house in his native Missouri. ABC officially confirmed Echard as the next Bachelor at the end of Young's hometown dates. 

Despite the announcement being met with some trepidation from fans, Young had nothing but good things to say about her ex when she spoke with ET ahead of the official news. 

"I think Clayton is just so wonderful, so deserving of love, wants to find his person," she said. "... He's all in with opening up. He's all in with being vulnerable, so I think that he will get the most out of it."

Echard is looking forward to showing the doubtful fans what he's made of. "I think people -- a lot of people -- are asking the question, 'Who is this guy? What is he gonna bring?' Everyone is gonna see that," he told ET's Denny Directo. "My personality, all of that is gonna come out, and I’m ready just to watch it." 

The orthopedic sales rep shared that he's also excited to see the parts of the season he wasn't privy to, including how his suitors behaved when he wasn't around. 

"That’s gonna be a whole new side of it that I'm gonna watch for the first time," he noted. "I was told about a lot of things but now I’m gonna find out who actually was telling the real story. That will be fun to see and, who knows, maybe fast forward to the Women Tell All and maybe I'll be having some questions for some people. I'll be like, 'Hey, the way you recounted this, that's not what I saw.'"

Fans saw a few peeks at the possible drama Echard refers to in the first look at his season that aired in November. In the preview, contestants spar back-and-forth, throwing around insults like "fake" and "two-faced," before one woman tells another to "keep my name out of your f**king mouth." 

Lots of sobbing and hugs from Echard ensue, leading the Bachelor to fume, "She f**ked it up for everybody. I’m done. It’s over. I’m just so broken."

"Those were genuine tears," Echard shared when asked about the emotional promo. "It was tough and I cried more tears than I thought I was gonna cry by far. I've experienced way more emotions than I thought I would feel but that was my journey and I was just navigating it to the best of my ability and based on what came my way."

Explaining that part of his excitement to see his journey on-screen stems from the knowledge that it is "100 percent authentic... and I can never take away from that."

Another preview clip teased the intense drama Echard faces when it comes down to his final three choices. The Bachelor admits to the cameras, "I didn’t believe it could happen, but I’m in love with three women."

He goes on to tell one woman, "I couldn’t be more sure that I’m falling in love with you," another that he's "falling in love with you," and a third, "I am in love with you."

It all seems to come to a head at a rose ceremony when Echard confesses to two women, "I just want you to know that what I’m about to say is not going to be easy to hear. I want to be fully, fully transparent, and I know it’s not easy to hear, but I was intimate with both of you."

As the women react predictably devastated by the news, the preview closes with Echard holding an engagement ring as he states that he's so "broken."

The moment "didn't go over too well," Echard told ET. 

"These are real people with real emotions and I knew it wasn't going to be easy to navigate, I knew it wasn't going to be an easy conversation at all. But I'm somebody who does believes in transparency and as people will see when this plays back... It'll all be explained once it airs," he added.

"I did what I thought was best. I'm not somebody who likes to push off conflict," he added. "Like if something comes up, I'm going to address it as it pops up."

But the process was all worth it for Echard, who confirmed that he found love during an appearance on Good Morning America earlier this month. 

"I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey, but I'm so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than I thought," he revealed. "Again, I'm just so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well."

Echard told ET that although he went into the season with "some checkboxes" in mind about what he was looking for in a potential partner, he realized he had to change his approach when "a majority" of the women proved to check them off right away.

"I quickly realized I can either try to find more checkboxes or just [be] happy that I already have all these incredible women. 'Let me just get to know each of them and let me see who makes me feel the most special.' So that’s the way I went about it. I just let my feelings take over," he explained. 

He still had two dealbreakers in mind, which included "someone who's impatient" and someone "not willing to listen." Explaining that communication is important to him, he shared that he was looking for a "lifelong partnership," and those qualities are necessary when communicating and working toward that. 

"If I ever see anybody that just doesn't exemplify those characteristics then, for me, I'm just like, 'I don't see it working,'" he noted.

Luckily, Echard found what he was looking for at the end of his season. Although he coyly avoided giving any more clues about his current relationship, the sales rep shared that "overall" he's "very happy, very blessed" after his Bachelor experience. 

"I learned so much about myself and I believe I'm a better person because of all of it and so I have no regrets," he said. "I could sit here and look at you and say I'm very happy and thankful, and as far as what all I found, that I'll keep it closed. So everyone's going to have to wait and find out what it looks like."

Clayton's season of The Bachelor, which will be hosted by Jesse Palmer, is set to premiere Monday, Jan. 3 on ABC. 

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