'Love Island': Connor Says He's in Love With Mackenzie and Is 'Hopeful' for Their Future (Exclusive)

The 23-year-old was coupled up with Mackenzie for much of the season, but things fell apart for him once she was eliminated.

Sometimes love really does conquer all... maybe? Love Island's Connor Trott was one of two boys dumped from the villa on Monday's episode, but his story didn't end there. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native spontaneously called up his ex-Love Island partner, Mackenzie Dipman, on Facetime moments after his elimination, asking for a second chance to see if their romance, however rocky it was within the villa walls, could actually survive in the real world. (His elimination wasn't a surprise, as friend-zoned Moira Tumas -- whom he was coupled up with -- prior to the recoupling.) Now, Connor is opening up about that surprising phone call and why he almost didn't go through with it.

"Where my head is at right now is definitely to try and see Mackenzie. I was able to give her a little Facetime after directly after leaving, so I think she has the same feelings as me," Connor told ET's Ash Crossan right after Monday's episode. "So I'm going to go home for a day or two, and hopefully go out to see her in Arizona."

"I almost didn't do it, honestly," he confessed of the Facetime call, part of which was shown during the episode. "I was super nervous, and the ending of it -- it was a sad ending to see her go, but I think we had a very good last conversation the last night before she left. And I knew we were heading in a right direction but I was still super nervous to make that phone call and I didn't know if she was gonna pick up. But no, she did seem super happy and excited to see that it was from me. And it made me super happy and it kind of validated how I felt."

Connor said he's "very hopeful" that he and Mackenzie could "grow" from their tumultuous Love Island experience. "I almost feel like it might be easier for us in the way that we both left this experience. We had our ups and downs through our time there but I do feel like we were 100 percent heading in the right direction after it, and hopefully that is something that we can continue to grow on and do it together."

Even though Connor and Mackenzie's relationship on Love Island had its many peaks and valleys (ahem, the whole Jalen situation anyone? communication issues?), Connor admitted spending time in the villa without his former situationship made his feelings for her that much stronger. So much so that he's ready to say the "L" word barely one month after meeting on the show. 

"Do I love Mackenzie?" Connor asked, seeming to ponder the big question. "I would say I do love Mackenzie, and I told her that as she was leaving actually. I know that is a very big deal and loaded statement to make but that is, I think, how I truly feel towards her. I hope I can continue to grow those feelings. I did feel as though I was falling for her in the villa, and just receiving the validation that she still has those feelings, especially where both of us are at right now and making that phone call to her whenever I left just made my feelings that much stronger."

Connor acknowledged that they still have a ways to go if they hope to be a Love Island success story.

"Just being honest with myself and telling the other person up front that this makes me happy how you're treating me or this is something we need to work on, and I don't appreciate certain things you're doing right now. Because it's making me feel a certain way, that is something I wasn't very good at being transparent with Mackenzie about. But I do think this is something that I was able to work on and grow from in the villa," he shared, adding that Mackenzie could improve on "communicating certain things, as far as when she feels like she needs more attention in a more clear way to me."

"That was something that was very confusing to me," Connor continued. "Overall, her being a little bit more transparent as to why certain things made her feel a certain way and why certain events were seemingly insignificant to me made her feel a little bit more emotional. Those were some of the points that made me a little confused, but besides that, just the miscommunication between us. Me feeling like I needed to be a little bit more assertive and just be true to how I'm feeling with her."

With Connor on the East Coast and Mackenzie based on the West, if they do decide to move forward as boyfriend and girlfriend, it'll be as a long-distance relationship -- at least to start. 

"Hopefully I can go see in a few days after settling in back home for a few days, and then we can see how we want to proceed from here," Connor said. "I just graduated from school in May and I actually don't start working full-time until December, so I do have a couple of months to make the most of this time with her. And hopefully, when I do start work, it is fully remote for now, so maybe that is something that we can spend a lot more time with each other, especially because I do have this time before I do start work. It is a perfect case scenario right now for the next couple of months. Hopefully we can lay some groundwork and build a strong foundation before we I have to go to a certain direction in my life."

He had nothing but positive things to say about Mackenzie's impact on him in the villa, crediting her for "making things so easy for me since Day 1 being in there." "For that, I'll always be thankful for meeting her in this manner," Connor said. "She challenged me in a lot of different ways to help me grow and I think she was extremely selfless in that manner, helping me. But I do think outside of this experience, this show and experience is not for everyone. It's very unique in its own way, and I hope that getting back to normal life and having your support system around you, for the both of us, we can truly lean on that and hopefully continue working on us as a couple going forward."

For more on why Connor chose Moira instead of recoupling with Mackenzie following the Jalen debacle after Casa Amor, how much the public's perception when they voted Connor and Mackenzie one of the least compatible couples swayed him in the villa, the painful teddy bear moment and more, watch ET's full interview above.

Love Island airs nightly on CBS. To watch interviews with other recently eliminated islanders, see ET's chat with Jalen Noble below.

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