Matt James Reveals If He's Thinking About Proposing to Rachael Kirkconnell (Exclusive)

The pair first connected on James' season of 'The Bachelor,' which aired in 2021.

Matt James is considering taking the next step with Rachael Kirkconnell. ET's Denny Directo spoke with the former Bachelor ahead of the release of his debut book, First Impressions, and he revealed that an engagement between him and Kirkconnell isn't out of the question.

"At this point in my life, I wouldn't be dating someone that I wouldn't consider marrying," James told ET. "That's the end goal and that's what we're working towards."

James and Kirkconnell met during his season of The Bachelor, which aired in 2021. Before his season premiered, controversy swirled when a TikTok user accused Kirkconnell of previously bullying her for dating Black men. Then, another user accused her of liking racist photos. Pics also surfaced of her at an Old South plantation-themed party while in college. Kirkconnell has since apologized and asked people to stop defending her actions. 

"Rachael suffered, seeing every past mistake, down to the minute, paraded across headlines," James writes in his book.

James also details the fallout from the controversy, including his and Kirkconnell's decision to "step away from each other for a time," before making their way back together. Before that could happen, though, Kirkconnell ended things when she found out that James "took advantage of our undefined, gray space and reconnected with former flings." 

A mistaken location shared by Kirkconnell ended up being the thing that reconnected the pair for good, a fact James considers to be "fated."

"We talked for four hours... about all of the issues that had kept us apart -- her mistakes, my mistakes, insecurities, family drama, public perception, and everything else under the sun," he writes. "I decided to be better going forward. She had done self-work that I hadn’t reciprocated. I promised her that I was all in. It was the best decision I could have made."

Rehashing their ups and downs in his book wasn't as hard for James as some may assume.

"The hardest part was actually going on the show, because I had my doubts if something like that could work," James told ET. "I'm fortunate that I put those [doubts] aside because I'm in a great relationship now with Rachael... The hardest part for me was being vulnerable up front. When I did that, putting it on paper was easy."

Still, though, James wanted to be cognizant of Kirkconnell's feelings as he recounted the tumultuous start to their relationship.

"You're walking on eggshells when you talk about that stuff because it's real. I wanted to make sure that when I'm expressing our story... that I was in constant communication with Rachael when I'm sharing how she wants that portrayed," he said. "There was constant conversation with myself, with [co-author] Cole Brown, who I was working with, and then with Rachael to make sure that I'm not fudging the way that this needs to come together for her."

"She hasn't had a chance to speak on it [or] the light that I have with having opportunities like this," James added of speaking to ET. "I just wanted to make sure that I was doing her right and not continuing to beat a dead horse."

Even with that in mind, not including their story in his book was not something James ever considered

"I feel it would've been a cop out, because I'm telling my entire story, and it's got to include everything, the good, and the bad, the ugly," James explained. "You see it in a bunch of different people's books. I respect it when they talk about the things that are dark and that are uncomfortable, because that shows you that you're trying to embrace those things. You can't move past those things until you embrace them and you get over them."

The couple is in a good place now, and James is confident that, as he and Kirkconnell continue to live their lives, support for their relationship will grow.

"I think if people get to know Rachael and I better then they'll understand our relationship. In the context of a show and how it's presented there, it doesn't give a full picture. It's not their job to give that... They can't present everything," James said. "As we continue to live out our lives, I think people will continue to support us, because they see that we're real, authentic, we love each other, and it's not for show. It's two good people."

Outside of continuing his relationship with Kirkconnell, James is excited about the future of the non-profit organization he founded, ABC Food Tours, which educates children in underserved communities about food and exercise in New York City.

As he continues in work and in life, James is looking forward to "a lot of personal growth and a lot of giving back" in the years to come.

"If there's programs that I can put in place and educational platforms that I could build around financial literacy, food insecurity and just personal health and well-being, I've done my job," he told ET. "I saw how mental health and physical health took a toll on people during the pandemic. As someone who seemingly was thriving through that time, it sucks to say that, because so many people are still getting beat up from that. I feel a responsibility, knowing what I know, to do better and serve those people who were affected by it."

First Impressions, James' debut book, is now available wherever books are sold.



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