'Bachelor' Matt James Talks Rachael Controversy and That Spotify Like: Did He Spoil His Season? (Exclusive)

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Matt James seems smitten with Rachael Kirkconnell. The Bachelor admitted he was falling in love with the 24-year-old graphic designer on Monday night's episode of the ABC dating show, and as he told ET's Lauren Zima on Tuesday, his feelings were real. 

"I think that first group date is when she really caught my eye," he shared. "When we had the bridezillas, and I saw a different side of her, you know, I saw the competitor."

"This has been a steady progression...  since the first week," he added. "It was a feeling I hadn't felt, and... this is nothing that [producers are] telling me to say or do, it's just, I felt it in the moment and I had never felt it before."

Neither Matt nor Rachael had been in love before The Bachelor, with Rachael telling Matt on Monday's episode that self-doubt has often sabotaged her past relationships. Matt assured Rachael that he really cared for her, and even told the camera he could see himself proposing to Rachael. 

"I hadn't had that one-on-one time with Rachael -- all of our time had been spent in that group-date setting -- so having that one-on-one time just to confirm how I felt and how she was feeling was nice," he shared. "I hadn't felt it before."

Rachael has been an early frontrunner and favorite of many fans. However, just after the premiere, a TikTok user accused Rachael of bullying her in the past for dating Black men, and this week, another user accused Rachael of liking racist photosBachelor contestants are usually unable to address allegations while they're still on the show. 

"I have not spoken to anybody since the show ended, but I would say that you have to be really careful about what you are doing on social media," Matt said of the various allegations. "Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people's lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that."

"There's a lot of stuff going around about the women that were involved in the show," he added. "I would just give them a chance to kind of have their piece, whether that is someone who was gone night one or someone who went home last night. Everyone has a story, and I would just be receptive to that."

Whether or not Rachael and Matt end up together, it seems they're still on good terms. Eagle-eyed fans couldn't help but notice Matt had recently liked Rachael's Spotify playlist, with some sure it must be a spoiler that Matt picks her in the end. 

However, Matt said he's listened to music from a few of his suitors: "I have listened to Kit's playlist, I have listened to Michelle's playlist."

"I think people are very eager to find any tea," he added. "Lucky for me, I had a very good group of women and I have taken a lot of what I have learned from them and applied it to my life. This shirt was inspired by Kit's fashion, a lot of things that I am doing going forward were taken from my time with these women."

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. 

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