"Everything I put Kelley through... I'm still working to make it up to her for not picking her," Peter Weber exclusively tells ET's Lauren Zima. "And I'm never going to stop."
It was clear skies ahead when Weber's season ofThe Bachelor took off, but it didn't exactly experience a smooth landing. The pilot's March finale saw his proposal to contestant Hannah Ann Sluss, as well as the ending of that engagement, and Weber's reunion with his runner-up, Madison Prewett. His family didn't approve, and two days later, he and Prewett went their separate ways.
Weeks later, Weber made headlines as he reconnected with another ex, Kelley Flanagan, a Chicago-based lawyer who was an early favorite on his season. The pair serendipitously met at a hotel just before filming had started on The Bachelor, but their romance didn't survive the season. Weber says he was too much in his own head, while Flanagan admits she wasn't really suited for reality TV. So, when Flanagan and Weber met up again after his season, away from the cameras and pressure to make a relationship work in a matter of weeks, their romance soared. In a sit-down interview with ET, they open up about falling in love after the show, deciding to move in together, and why they know this time their relationship will last.
Flanagan confesses that at first, she didn't want Weber to come visit her in Chicago after his season. They exchanged numbers and started texting after a mid-March outing with friends at celeb hot spot Delilah in West Hollywood. Flanagan's father had just finished six weeks of chemotherapy after his cancer diagnosis -- "He's doing great," she assures ET -- and Weber wanted to be there for her as a friend. She turned him down, worried about the attention his visit would draw, but then decided the next day that she'd actually appreciate the company.
"I was like, 'You know what? I gotta stop caring about that so much,'" she remembers. "'Yes, please come out ... come see me.'"
Weber and his Bachelorette buddy, Dustin Kendrick, quarantined at Flanagan's house as friends at first. Then, a romance between Weber and Flanagan started to develop. Flanagan admittedly steers away from drama in relationships, but she and Weber decided they needed to confront a few things head-on before reigniting their romance.
"Trust is a huge thing, but if you just hear each other out, it's a lot easier," she reasons. "We've sat down and talked everything through, and it makes a lot more sense if you're on our end than the public's."
"With Kelley, it literally sounds so cliché -- I can just be myself. She truly gets me," Weber says. "She's my biggest fan and she supports me and she's always there for me. I know I have my partner in crime forever."
Weber has "never had this confidence from a relationship before." "I've grown a lot but I'm not saying it's all on me either ... she is, I truly believe, the perfect person for me. And I feel so blessed to have this have worked out."
"Wanna know how I told her I loved her for the first time?" the pilot giddily asks. "Neil Lane wasn't there -- I know -- but I got her this little gumball machine ring. We were having a pool day, and I [sat her on the couch]... I told her I wanted her to remember this day from this gumball machine ring is the day that I told you that I loved you."
"Isn't he sweet?" Flanagan gushes. "How can you not love him?"
"There's always something about Peter that I knew I just was madly in love. I just knew we'd get along," she adds. While Weber didn't get the most all-encompassing view of Flanagan during her time on The Bachelor, she saw real signs their relationship could work starting from his appearance on Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette. She cites their family dynamics as something they have in common. And yes, Weber's mom, Barbara, couldn't be happier about his relationship.
Barb, who made her likes and dislikes abundantly clear on Weber's season of The Bachelor, actually hinted to her son that she was rooting for Flanagan during a phone call after his accident in Costa Rica. According to Weber, she loves Flanagan so much that she's refused to watch the episode where Weber sends her home. He feels the same way.
Flanagan, true to her personality, isn't bothered by things not working out with Weber on the show. While he's convinced he would have known she was the one for him after a hometown date, she argues that her family can be quite intimidating. They've since met Weber, and are big fans.
"[My mom] actually loves him, to the point where I have to almost make fun of her," Flanagan says. "When Peter comes around and she's on speaker phone, her voice goes up. She's like, 'Hey, Peter!'"
Their love story has been "awkward" at times, the former Bachelor admits, but he couldn't be happier about where they are now. "People like to say, 'Oh, she wasn't your first choice. And I know for Kelley, it has been tough to see. But listen, at the end of the day, this is a reality TV dating show. This is not real life, normal life, so it's not the same," he shares.
Weber notes that few people "end up marrying the very first boyfriend or girlfriend they ever had." "It's not their technical first choice," he points out. "So, we've just done a good job of reassuring each other and just explaining why I did things, and owning up to my faults and just being a better person moving forward."
The pair is making both figurative and literal moves. Weber and Flanagan plan to move in together in New York City in late summer or early fall. Working from home during the pandemic has allowed Flanagan to get a good idea of how she'd function working from another city, while Weber's work as a pilot takes him across the country anyway.
"I'm super excited to take this next step with Kell and move to New York and to see what adventures await," Weber says. Both love to travel, and have begun making travel vlogs together. They intend to start seeing the world again as soon as the pandemic allows.
The couple is "very serious," and while they've talked about next steps like marriage or kids, they're not putting pressure on themselves.
"We're not on a reality show anymore, we can take our time," Flanagan says. "We don't need to rush anything. We want to make sure each other is in the right headspace, and there's nothing wrong with that. We're happy and we're living life."
Plus, Weber jokes he did actually put a ring on Flanagan's finger when he told her he loved her. "It wasn't the ring I thought it was going to be, but yeah, I did," he says of the gumball machine ring. "So, we'll see what's in store down the road."
For more from our exclusive interview with Weber and Flanagan, tune into Tuesday's ET. Find out how to watch here, and see more on Weber in the video below.