'Bachelor' Colton Underwood on How Cassie Convinced Him to Be Friends With Ex Caelynn (Exclusive)

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Nearly two months after Colton Underwood's Bachelor finale aired, there's no bad blood between him and one of his finalists, Caelynn Miller-Keyes. In fact, he and Caelynn are friends now, thanks to her close friendship with his girlfriend, Cassie Randolph

Fans saw Cassie and Caelynn's friendship blossom on Colton's season of The Bachelor, and they continued to hang out after the show. Now Cassie lives with her sister, Michelle Randolph, in the same Los Angeles apartment building as Caelynn -- and they hang out with Colton, who lives nearby, regularly. 

"It took time, it really did," Colton told ET's Lauren Zima on Thursday of how he and Caelynn -- who told Colton she was in love with him after introducing him to her family on The Bachelor -- have moved on from their romance. "Our relationship dynamic definitely changed, obviously. But it took time." 

The former football player said that Cassie's bond with Caelynn was a major factor in him becoming friends with her as well. "Cassie did share with me, 'Caelynn is one of my best friends. I really connected with her and it's really important to me that at some point you can become friends with her too,'" he recalled. "I think it would be weird if I was like, 'Don't hang out with this person.' And Caelynn is a really good person. I know that firsthand, and am very supportive of their friendship."

Caelynn now thinks of Colton as a "big brother," and Colton is hoping she'll find love on Bachelor in Paradise. "I'm rooting for her. I think it could really work, and I want her to have a boyfriend so we can double date," he explained. 

Colton and Cassie have enjoyed their fair share of double dates with Cassie's sister, Michelle, and her boyfriend, actor Gregg Sulkin -- whom Colton was photographed hitting the gym with before his finale aired. 

"To be honest, I think Chris [Harrison] might have even texted me... 'Dude, really?'... I know I probably shouldn't  have been working out with him," Colton confessed, as Cassie revealed that she was upset her boyfriend might "ruin it at the very end." 

"The ending was getting tough on me too, because there was a week for people to sit in our break up, to criticize her and me and what I was doing. So, I was just like, 'Screw this! I'm over it. I just want to love you and I want to be with you. I don't care what's on TV right now, I just want to be with you.'" 

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That criticism has been especially difficult on Cassie. "The hardest part about this whole thing has been adjusting to the scrutiny, in a way, and having more eyeballs on us than we were ever used to," she said. "Our lives were fairly simple before this, and then knowing that affects not only us, but the people around us, our family and friends, in all different ways [is tough]." 

Now that they're free to be out in the open with their relationship, Colton feels like the "happiest, luckiest guy in the whole entire world. "Our love for each other is just so unwavering," he said, adding that they no longer feel pressure to define or justify their relationship. In fact, they're happy to not have a timeline for engagement or moving in together, despite what they may have said in the past. 

"I felt like I had to put a timeline on when we were going to get engaged because it was so abnormal, but I think for us, let's just be normal, let's enjoy dating each other," he expressed. 

"I think initially, coming off of it, honestly we felt the need to defend it," Cassie added of previously telling ET they might be engaged later this year. "Yes, we're at this stage, and we wanted everyone to believe how much we cared about each other, because we do, so much, and we thought that was how we'd go about it." 

According to Colton, engagement is still on the table, as is moving in together. "I think we plan on getting engaged and then plan on moving in together somewhere between then and the wedding. We don't really know. We're still trying to figure out that whole dynamic," he reasoned. 

"Honestly, we're ready for our lives to slow down a little so we can breathe and figure it out," Cassie added. 

Fans can watch The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise on the app Tubi. See more on the couple in the video below, and join ET's Bachelor Nation Facebook group here

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