'Love Island': Josh and Shannon on Their Heartbreaking Season 3 Exit and the Future (Exclusive)

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Love Island couple Josh Goldstein and Shannon St. Clair's time in the villa came to an abrupt and heartbreaking end in last Thursday's episode, when Josh broke the news to the other islanders that his older sister, Lindsey, had unexpectedly died the night before after suddenly falling ill. The pair, who had been coupled up since Day 1, left the Hawaiian villa to return to Josh's home state of Massachusetts to be with family and celebrate his sister's life, whom he credited for bringing him onto Love Island and helping him meet Shannon.

"I'm doing as well as I can be during these circumstances. Shannon's support has been unbelievable. She came back to my hometown with me and met my entire family and all my friends. And seeing so many faces that I love come together and support me and my family at this time has been unbelievable. Everybody that's reached out on social media or text message or a phone call, we've seen everything. It's been a lot and it's been a really hectic couple of days. Very overwhelming, but I really do appreciate all the support," Josh told ET on Monday over Zoom with Shannon by his side.

"It's definitely not the ideal way that I wanted to come home, but it's a celebration of my sister's life," he added. "She was the reason I was on this show and she was one of- not only my biggest supporter, but a supporter of the show. I know it brought her joy watching Shannon and I grow our relationship on TV and she was tuned in every night. I'm at peace that I know that she was happy watching us do that, because my sister was just one of the nicest people ever. She was such a kind soul and such a giving person and everything she did was for other people, and I really want people to know that."

"It's definitely a tough time grieving with my family," he continued. "You can't really plan anything like this. There's no guideline on how to grieve, but under the circumstances, it's been tough, but Shannon has been unbelievable throughout this whole process, even from the minute we left the villa. So I really don't think I could've done it without her, honestly."

Prior to their early exit, things were looking up for the couple after they made it official as boyfriend and girlfriend during their romantic ziplining date -- the first pair to do so this season on Love Island. But now that their time in the villa is over due to unforeseen circumstances, the couple discuss their future, coming together through tragedy and who their picks are to win season 3.

ET: What has it meant to you knowing that your sister, in a way, played a part in you and Shannon meeting? A little bit of fate and a silver lining there?

Josh Goldstein:
It's so hard to even put it into words and fathom, if you think about it like that. And I am a firm believer in fate and I'm a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason. I truly do believe that my sister signing me up for this show was not by accident and me meeting Shannon was not by accident. This world works in mysterious ways and God had a plan and my sister had a bigger plan. It was her time, but she went out giving and that's the person that she was. And I definitely want to make her proud. I think that she was proud of me and of our relationship. It brings me joy knowing that -- obviously, I feel a little bit guilty that I missed out on the last couple months of her life. And it's been hard for me to put that into perspective because we were so close, but all of her friends and all of our family reassured me that I brought her so much joy watching us every night on TV. That's brought me a little bit of peace. But I do believe that things do happen for a reason. I wouldn't have met Shannon if it wasn't for my sister, so all glory to her. I know she's up there super proud and smiling right now. So, it definitely brings a smile to my face.

Shannon, I probably know the answer to this, but was it a difficult decision to decide to leave with Josh?

Shannon St. Clair: No, absolutely not. It wasn't even a second thought. Josh and I are so close -- our connection, it doesn't come often in this life. And I do firmly believe that his sister did sign him up for the show to meet me. I've dealt with death of my father. Although it's not the same situation, I understand where he's coming from with mourning and dealing with death. If it was anybody here with him, it would be me. I have been through it. It has made me stronger as a woman, as a person. And Josh is incredibly strong. His family has been absolutely amazing and so strong. Just the fact that I could be that rock for Josh in this time, it wasn't even a second thought. I packed my bag and was out right with him, came right to Massachusetts and have been spending time grieving and celebrating his sister's life and being with this family. It's really nice to see Josh inside of the villa and now Josh outside of the villa, how he is with his family, how he is mourning and being this amazingly strong little brother that his sister always protected and loved. It was not even a second thought.

Prior to your exit, you became boyfriend and girlfriend, which is a big step for any relationship but especially on Love Island. When did you know this was the real deal?

Goldstein: I think that early on from Day 1 we realized that we connected with each other and we had a lot in common. But it wasn't really until Casa Amor where we really believed that this was it. This was real. For a while before that, we were getting along so well, but it was almost too good to be true. We were trying to find ways or things that would tear us apart. I think that that's where the majority of our disagreements came into play.

St. Clair: Yeah. I tried pushing him away as much as I could just because if it's a good thing, it'll always come back and I definitely tested him while in there.

Goldstein: For sure, and I just kept reassuring her, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Maybe it is good and maybe it's meant to be. When [we] went to Casa Amor, that was designed to confuse us and tear us apart, but it only did the exact opposite. Truly spending time apart for the first time made us realize how much we really do care for each other and how much we miss each other and from then on, I can speak for myself, where I realized this is the person for me. On that date, I didn't plan on [asking you to be my girlfriend], it just felt so right in the moment. I had to make it official and luckily, she said yes.

St. Clair: Even the very, very first day, I always said I would never step forward for the first man that walked out. Josh stepped out and I couldn't help but take a big leap forward. I was even talking with producers, "I'm going to wait until the last guy to step forward." Then I saw Josh and even in all the nerves and craziness of the first day and the cameras, it didn't matter. It was always Josh. I definitely came in with a little bit of trust issues and reality TV and I didn't know the type of people that were going to be on it and I have to take care of my heart. So I definitely put Josh to the test a bunch of times and tried to push him away a little bit to see if he would run away or if he would come back to me. And he came back to me every single time.

Josh also went on a couple of dates beforehand and came back and gave me a kiss and talked about it and said, "It's you." And then Casa Amor really was the icing on the cake for me, where I was like, "This is my person. I have full trust in him now." It was the best moment in the villa, walking down those stairs and seeing that he did not bring another Casa Amor girl back with him and I had him all to myself. I was not expecting him to ask me to be his girlfriend on the date. We actually had never talked about it. So I was definitely in shock, just because there's cameras around. I didn't know if that was something we wanted to do in private, outside of the villa or the moment just felt right. And in that moment, I wanted to say yes.

You guys did have a little bit of a roller-coaster experience, especially in the beginning. Now that you're out of the villa, how has it been hearing from fans? Has there been anything that's surprised you about how've been received?

Goldstein: No matter what you do in this life, whether it's reality TV or anything else, you are going to get negative publicity. It's just part of the world that we live in, unfortunately. But the majority of it has been unbelievable. We didn't realize it because when we're in the villa, we don't know what's going on in the outside world. When we came out, we realized how many people truly supported us throughout America. And it was just awesome to see, because we knew it, we believed in our relationship. But we didn't know how America viewed it. 

I think that people did relate because nothing that we ever did was fake. We did have a bumpy road. Relationships aren't easy. If anyone says their relationship is perfect, they're lying to you. I think that that's ultimately why we related to a lot of people was because we were super authentic and real and we just said what was on our mind. We dug through some tough situations and tough conversations and ultimately made us stronger. That's what a relationship is at the end of the day, how it is in the real world. We were our true, authentic selves. There's going to be, unfortunately, people out there that have their own opinions and jump to conclusions and don't actually know us from a hole in the wall. That's their problem. But at the end of the day, the positive support has been unbelievable and it was awesome to see coming out of the villa, me jumping right into this tough situation with my sister. It was a bright point in this whole tragedy.

Who is your pick to win?

St. Clair:
We definitely are voting for Korey and Olivia. They are so real. They're very straight up. They do not hold back. Me and Josh were talking and he even said some of the best relationships start as friendships first. That's so important to have that foundation and to be real and communicating with each other is the most important part. When I saw Olivia at Casa Amor and her coming back single, that really solidified for all the girls and all the guys that she came back and was like, "If I go home single, then I'm going home with my head held high." And she went back and was like, "I can't stop thinking about Korey. I think I really do like him more than just a friend." And it is a little awkward, I think, when you're trying to break out of that friend zone area. But she went into it and was like, "Sorry, I'm not going to force the connection just to stay in the villa." She came back single, knew what she wanted and that was Korey. That's who we are supporting for the endgame here.

Goldstein: Korey was one of my best guy friends in the villa. He gave me a lot of advice throughout the weeks that we were there and I gave him advice and he's just such a genuine person. Same with Liv. She was one of my best girl friends in there. Like Shannon said, some of the best relationships I know personally, have started as friendships. And you can just see it blossom. They've both been themselves. They both are older and they know what they want. Liv coming back from Casa Amor single really was a deal-breaker, saying she knows exactly what she wants. Korey was in that situation with Bailey and her, and ultimately picked her, which really seals the deal saying they're both 100 percent committed. I'm honestly looking forward to seeing how the last week turns out and I wish the best of luck for everybody. Everybody in there deserves it and they are there for the right reasons. But if I had to pick somebody in this situation, we are rooting for Liv and Korey to hopefully take it home.

What does the future hold for you as a couple?

Goldstein: Obviously this is a super hectic time for me and my family and I haven't really thought that far ahead right now. We're just taking it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, honestly. Me and Shannon are both in similar situations where we've moved out of our apartments before the show and we're living at our family's house and we don't know what our next move is. I think that's honestly a good thing for us. Right now, we just want to take the time. I want to pay respects to my sister and be with my family right now and just sort of mourn that. But at the same time, I'm super hopeful for the future. I know that we are now talking about a bunch of things and excited for what's to come. We have a great opportunity to take our relationship to the outside and have that freedom of, "What's our next move?" It's kind of awesome to think about because we aren't really tied down to anything right now and I'm very hopeful for the future. I'm excited to explore that with Shannon.

St. Clair: Yeah, I agree. Right now we're really focusing on Josh's sister and helping his family mourn than that loss. So right now, we're just focusing on Lindsey and celebrating her life, taking it day by day. Obviously, nobody could have even thought something this tragic could happen so fast because she was so young. So it is a lot to take in. I think Josh and I are just getting to know each other on a different level outside of the villa. It's different when you're meeting somebody inside the villa with cameras and microphones on. But then getting to know them on the outside in the real world and seeing how they're out at dinner and seeing how they interact with their family and their friends and with their hometown, I think that is such a beautiful other side to it that you don't see in the Villa that brings you so much closer.

So I think we are definitely going to be getting to know each other on the outside like we have and we love what we see. We don't want to jump or rush too much. We're very much realists and we know the passion that we have for each other and we're just taking it day by day. I'm just really focusing on Josh getting back to his normal self. He's very tough. He's very strong, but this is one of the most, if not the most difficult thing he'll ever go through in his life right now. So we are just focusing on that and just focusing my relationship, my energy on being there for him and his family right now.

Love Island airs Tuesdays through Fridays, as well as Sundays, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. Special episodes drop Mondays on Paramount+. Fans can binge the entire season of Love Island on Paramount+ before the finale on Sunday, Aug. 15.

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