The 34-year-old former Bachelorette stopped by Viall Files-- her ex, Nick Viall's, podcast -- and revealed that she and Booth almost called it quits one year into their relationship.
Bristowe, Booth and Viall all appeared on Bristowe's season of The Bachelorettein 2015, and the leading lady eventually selected Booth over Viall in the finale. While Bristowe and Booth went on to date for more than three years before eventually breaking up in November 2018, they nearly split two years prior when Viall was named the Bachelor.
"When you became the Bachelor, Shawn almost broke up with me and said that you won," Bristowe told Viall. "And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ That hurt me so badly. And he said, ‘That guy won. That’s what he wanted. That’s why he came on the show and he won.’”
Viall said that it "always bothered" him that people thought he only appeared on the franchise -- he was on two seasons of The Bachelorette and one of Bachelor in Paradise-- with the hope of becoming the Bachelor, telling Bristowe that he "was sincere."
"When I came on your season, that was the only time I actually came for the girl," Viall told Bristowe, of deciding to join her season when it was already in production. "It always meant something to me that we had a connection and we had a short relationship. And I always felt fondly about you… I know it wasn’t bulls**t. It felt like I was being told it was bulls**t."
"All I ever wanted was for the two of you to think I was sincere," he added. "It really bugged me that [Booth] played off this narrative. And I get why you, to some degree, went along with it."
Bristowe, who agreed that Viall was sincere, copped to not disputing Booth's pointed comments about her ex after the show -- which were contentious largely due to the fact that Bristowe and Viall slept together prior to the Fantasy Suite dates -- but said she did so to "protect" Booth.
"I was totally trying to protect a relationship and maybe it was too far that way. I could’ve just dropped it, but it was such a lingering thing over my head all the time from the show," she explained. "And I always felt so much shame around you. And so I think I projected these [feelings] just because I was trying to protect the relationship."
"At the end of the day, you have a choice and I chose him and he chose me and then he chose to focus on you," she continued. "It really was hard for him. It was really, really a lingering thing in the relationship. Super unfortunate."
Bristowe went on to describe her feelings of "shame" in more detail, explaining that they were largely there because "of how badly I had hurt Shawn through our relationship."
"I think I was made to feel shame, but deep down I wasn’t ashamed," she said. "But that’s why I acted the way I did or that’s why we didn’t talk or that’s why I made little jabs here and there, because I knew he had been so hurt by it and I hated that... I truly, deeply loved him and I wanted to protect him, so it was so hard for me."
While Viall appeared to understand her reasoning, he told Bristowe that those post-show remarks left him both "riddled with anxiety" and largely confused, since Booth did win Bristowe's heart.
"My ego after losing, I was like, ‘F**k, I couldn’t even win this time. I knew her, we had this connection, there was this familiarity and this f**king Shawn guy shows up and she still picked him,’" Viall explained. "I was just thinking he’d be like, ‘Yeah, after all this, you still picked me.’ And that never seemed to be a thought.'"
"It was so unfortunate because I think he really wanted to let it go. And he tried, he really tried, and we worked on it," Bristowe responded. "I think he has such a good heart and I think it’s in the right place. I think he was just really damaged by the show… I think he felt very manipulated by everybody… I don’t feel like he ever felt like a winner from it, like he won to have gotten me."
"It hurt me so badly because… I thought he was the one," she continued. "I just wanted him to believe how much I loved him. And it just never came through. It was always about something else… At the end of the day, I chose him... and it just never felt like he chose me back."
That feeling of uncertainty plagued Bristowe and Booth's relationship, with Bristowe admitting that she "really lost confidence in myself in that relationship."
"I think the balance wasn’t there where I was just too much wanting to please him and make him happy," she said. "I lost who I was. And so that definitely is not the balance I want in a relationship, where I think you should build each other up."
While Bristowe said that she felt Booth was "never convinced of how much I actually loved him," she's beyond happy in her current relationship with Jason Tartick, which began shortly after her split from Booth.
"It was just, like, a year of, can we make this work? And then we break up and then all of a sudden... I bought the house, I’m with the guy, I’ve got a new golden retriever, I have my wine business, and I’m just so proud of where I’m at," she said. "I feel like he might hate me... It makes me sad because all I ever did was try to make him happy and I feel like he’s just still angry at me… I truly want him to be happy and I guess that I just feel so happy where I am in life that I genuinely want the same for him."
As for Tartick, Bristowe said: "He’s one of the most confident people I’ve ever met and not in a cocky way. He’s just a really happy-go-lucky, confident guy. And he’s really proud of everything I do and I think in return it makes me want to build him up... I never knew it could be so easy [or that you] could just have so much respect for each other."
"I feel like I’ve done so much work on myself that now I’m able to have a relationship with someone who’s on the same page as me," she added. "He’s just the sweetest guy ever. I didn’t know that there were still people like him out there. He’s a dying breed."
Despite all the trials and tribulations, Bristowe said that she's "such a believer in a path and certain things happening for a reason."
"I’m glad I met you. I’m glad we went on that show together. I’m glad I picked Shawn. I’m glad that didn’t work out. I’m glad I’m with Jason," she said. "And I’ll be glad no matter what happens down the road, because I love every chapter of life. And I feel like every single thing that I’ve gone through, I learned so much."