"It feels very surreal," Clare said of her engagement. "It happened a few months ago, but it's still so fresh. I could not be more excited."
Dale and Clare's engagement took place at record speed for the Bachelor franchise, occurring roughly two weeks into filming. However, the pair's connection couldn't be denied. Sparks flew from their first meeting on night one, an introduction that both Clare and Dale swear was their first.
"Not even close," Dale said of if he and Clare spoke before the show.
"That's not true at all," Clare agreed. "And, as a matter of fact, next week you'll see on the next episode we have a sit down with Chris Harrison and we'll go over that and explain that a lot."
After their magnetic first meeting, the 39-year-old hairstylist quickly realized she didn't have eyes for anyone else. Dale, 32, felt the same shortly thereafter.
"After we had our first group date, in my mind and in my heart, everything was already written," Dale said. "So everything after the fact validated that and I knew in my heart it was going to be her and I at the end of the day."
After an honest conversation with Chris Harrison, Clare officially exited her Bachelorette duties and had her first one-on-one date with Dale, where they professed their love to each other. Before her happily ever after, Clare had to breakup with her 16 remaining guys.
"It was incredibly hard because, as much as I believed in us and do believe in us, still having to break up with that many guys at once that came there for a shot at love with me was really hard," she said. "I've had a hard time finding love with just one guy, so for all these guys to show up, it meant everything to me that they were there. I have nothing but so much love and respect for them, so it was a really, really hard thing."
Following that hard moment, though, Clare finally got the proposal she'd long wished for.
"[It was] never a question [if I'd propose]," Dale said. "I said from the beginning there was never a time I wouldn't be there for you. And my heart was so full. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Never a second thought. If you see in the episode, we're so relaxed and we're so calm together, and we knew at that moment that we were exactly where we were meant to be."
As for how she's dealt with criticism of her choices leading up to and following her engagement, Clare admitted, "I'd be lying if I said it's been easy because I'm human."
"The things people say without knowing the full truth, without seeing how things really happened, genuinely happened, it just blows my mind," she said. "In a world right now where there's so much negativity, and hate, and hard things going on right now, love and this type of thing should not be one of those things. It kind of blows me away."
Clare's message to her naysayers is simply one of love, though.
"I just honestly want to send them love because I think hurt people, hurt people," she said. "And if you care enough to go on my social media, go on his social media, take the time to write things out and spread hate, it just really says kind of internally what's going on with them, if you're coming from a place of anger, a place of hate. So for me, I just want to send them noting but love."
Meanwhile, The Bachelorette is also moving forward -- with Tayshia Adams as lead. The 30-year-old stepped in for Clare on Thursday night's episode.
In an interview with ET last month, Clare said she wanted Tayshia to be the Bachelorette.
"I wanted Tayshia as the Bachelorette... like, I support her," Clare shared. "I think she's beautiful, I think she's a very grounded woman, a woman who knows what she wants. I completely support that, I supported her....I've wanted to her to be the Bachelorette forever. I always was for that."
The Bachelorette airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See more in the video below.