Nicole Johnson might be ready to marry Michael Phelps now, but she reveals in a new interview with Cosmopolitan that there were times in the past when she actually "loathed" the Olympic swimmer.
The former Miss California started dating Phelps in 2009 and split with him for a period of time three years later.
WATCH: Michael Phelps Emotionally Reflects on Having His Son Watch Him Win Gold
"There definitely were times, and I think Michael would say the same thing, where I hated him," the 31-year-old model says. "We were at odds at times. Even when I loathed him, there were still times when I was like, 'God, I wish I was with him.'"
The couple later reconciled and became engaged last year. They now have a son together, the adorably Instagrammable 4-month-old Boomer. But Johnson insists the break was ultimately necessary for their relationship.
"Michael and I both know that had we tried to have a child and get married in the previous time we were together, it probably would not have ended pretty," she shares. "We both had a lot of growing up to do. We both had a lot of learning about ourselves to do. I don't think you can be in a good relationship unless you love yourself to the fullest and you want to help the other person become a better person. We definitely needed that time apart to recognize that about ourselves and to appreciate one another."
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As for Phelps' retirement from swimming, Johnson says her 23-time gold medal-winning fiancé went out exactly how he wanted to, so she doesn't see him making another return to the sport. "Then again, you never know," she adds. "Maybe he misses it so much and maybe Boomer convinces him that he has to go back so Boomer can remember it."
Speaking of Boomer, check out Phelps giving us all the feels about having his son watch him win gold in the video below.