Echard said he looked up the definition for gaslighting and disagrees with the characterization he was engaging in that behavior.
The Bachelor star Clayton Echard is responding to criticism that he was gaslighting Susie prior to her exit from the Fantasy Suite dates in Iceland, insisting that that characterization doesn't add up, though he does feel "embarrassed."
During an interview that aired Wednesday on Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti's The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast, Clayton took issue with the accusation for several reasons, which ultimately boiled down to the fact that he never had any ill-will feelings behind the way it all played out.
"It's tough because I've seen what everyone's saying and they're using some pretty descriptive terms, some pretty heavy-hitting terms that I couldn't disagree with more," he said. "I don't agree that I was gaslighting because I looked that up, and it said gaslighting, the definition is to try and convince someone of a different reality than what is actually the true reality of the situation."
"Gaslighting," he continued. "in my eyes is something where it's you have bad intentions, you're trying to manipulate somebody, and I was not at all trying to do that."
As Bachelor Nation knows by now, Clayton said "I love you" to all three women during Tuesday's episode, but things really reached a boiling point when Clayton confessed to the 28-year-old wedding videographer that he had slept with the other two contestants, Rachel and Gabby. That -- coupled with Clayton having strong feelings for two other women -- turned out to a be a deal breaker for Susie and she couldn't get past it, despite Clayton saying Susie encouraged him to explore other relationships.
Clayton apologized and asked Susie for her forgiveness, adding that he hoped that what they had was worth fighting for. He then went on to defend his decision to sleep with someone else, before admitting that it was actually two someone elses that he got intimate with.
"Me sleeping with both was because I’ve somehow fallen in love with three women and it makes zero sense to me," he said. "... This scares me, but at the same time, I’m finding what I’m looking for here, and if I just continue to push forward with the relationships I have, I will walk out of here with one person, because they were the best person for me."
Susie wasn't budging, and Clayton told her that the situation was "shattering" him.
"After everything we went through, after all the feelings, the experiences we had, how can you just straight up say, 'I can’t move forward after all of this?'" he asked, before Susie walked away in tears.
Clayton later fumed, "This is exactly what I was afraid of. I don’t believe in anything anymore. Everything is literally invalidated."
Susie and Clayton eventually met back again but Clayton later grew angry, telling Susie she "just invalidated everything that we had," adding, "I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore... You just dropped a bombshell on me. I don’t agree with it at all, how you went about this. I think it’s BS. I’m done."
Looking back, Clayton says he was wrong to think Susie's feelings for him weren't genuine.
"Because I was so hurt and upset that I felt as though she gave no emotion from start to finish," he said. "And I watch it back now and I'm like, 'It's clear as day the emotion was there.' She was torn, but I couldn't see that."
The morning after the Bachelor episode aired, Clayton said it was a lot to take in given how it transpired on TV and the emotional reactions it triggered.
"I woke up with a pounding headache, just stressed out," he said. "I'm embarrassed. I knew that this moment was coming. I'd kind of alluded to it in previous weeks. I'm not exactly shocked by the reactions online."
Clayton acknowledged "people are very much against me and favoring her," and he said he understand that, especially after watching the episode.
"I'm embarrassed," he reiterated. "I wish that I could have seen her side in that moment."
Clayton Echard's season of The Bachelor will air its two-part finale Monday, March 14, and Tuesday, March 15. ET has got you covered throughout the entirety of Clayton's season with all of our Bachelor content.