'Bachelor in Paradise': Michael A. on Deciding to Leave Son James to Film the Show (Exclusive)

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Michael Allio is ready to find love in paradise. The single dad is one of the people tapped to appear on the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise, an opportunity he jumped on despite previously leaving Katie Thurston's season of The Bachelorette because his now 6-year-old son, James, was struggling with his absence.

"Since we've had some history of doing this in the past, we were a little bit more prepared this time around," Michael told ET of himself and James. "He's with my parents and my in-laws, and they came to him with this vacation package while I was gone. When I told him I was going away, he was like, 'I’m going to have so much more fun than you.' And I’m like, 'Little do you know.'"

"He’s in good hands," he added. "I mean, I never would leave if I felt like he wasn't in a good place. I miss him already, and so it will be hard being away."

His decision to once again look for love on TV, came after he took "a break from dating" following his Bachelorette exit because "it took me a decent amount of time to reset and get back to a mental state where I could be my best self." 

Now that Michael feels like he's in a good spot personally, he's ready to invest in himself in his search for love.

"The decision to do this was really just kind of investing in myself. I think a lot of parents, they have a tendency to lose themselves in the role of being a parent and you forget that they're humans too. That have their own needs, that they are their own person," he said. "Taking three weeks out of the year, while it will be hard to be away from James, I think it's a necessary investment and I think it'll turn out to be good."

While Michael's ready for love, the fact that he'd be appearing on BiP came as a shock to him.

"I didn't have this in the cards whatsoever, but I think the idea that I can make connections with multiple people, that this set up gives you a lot more time to get to know the person you're with [is great]," he said. "Honestly, dating as a single dad is really challenging, not just the logistics, but, I mean, at 8:30 my son's in bed and if I were to go on 10 first dates, that's 10 days away. I'm kind of focused on just this hyper-focus look at getting to know people while I'm down here, and hopefully walk away with someone I can spend the rest of my life with."

Once it became clear that he'd be back on TV, Michael thought BiP would be a better fit for him than becoming the Bachelor.

"I think what works really well is filming is a lot less of a time burden, but also it's more relaxed, which I think that's kind of the best way to get to know somebody," he explained. "Also, one thing I always look for in a partner is how they act around other people. How do they act around my friends? How are they received by a group? If you are the lead, you don't get that privilege, because everything is so separate, so I'm really interested to see how that works out."

As for who he's hoping to meet in Paradise, Michael said he has "no idea" who might walk down to the beach.

"I specifically did that because I don’t know what it's going to feel like to meet somebody in person. I don’t want any preconceived notions of who they are or how they were portrayed on previous seasons," he said. "If it feels right, it feels right and that’s good enough."

While Michael may not know who he'll meet on the beach, he does know what he hopes to get out of the experience.

"My goal is to leave here with with somebody," he said. "I'm not somebody that likes to date multiple people. I've actually never dated two people at the same time. I've only said I love you to one person in my entire life. I am a little bit guarded after the loss of [my late wife] Laura, but I'm hoping to let those walls down and be able to kind of open up my heart again."

When it comes to what fans can expect from the season, Michael teased that it "will be unlike any other" before it.

"There are going to be so many twists and turns. I’m going into it with the full intention of leaving with somebody I can finally build my life with," he said. "As they saw from Katie's season, I don't know how to separate what goes on here from real life. They're gonna see a very raw version of me and hopefully see other elements of my personality as well. I'm happy to be here. I'm surprised I’m here. I’m grateful to be able to do this."

Season 8 of Bachelor in Paradise will premiere Tuesday, Sept. 27 on ABC.

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