EXCLUSIVE: Bachelor Nick Viall on Why He's Afraid to Say 'I Love You' and His Hardest Heartbreak

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Is fourth time the charm? That’s the question Nick Viall will seemingly answer this season on The Bachelor.

Viall left his last stint on a Bachelor franchise, this summer’s season of Bachelor in Paradise -- after breaking up with contestant Jennifer Saviano. Upon his departure, he wondered aloud if, after three on-camera splits, he was still capable of saying “I love you.”

ET spoke with him exclusively at his first Bachelor photo shoot on Sept. 21, where he dished on all his heartbreak.

“I'd be lying if I said I haven't gotten a little self-conscious about expressing an ‘I love you,’” he said. “I can't deny how I felt in those moments [on The Bachelorette and BIP] but after you remove yourself from the situation, you kind of appreciate the way things ended up. I think just naturally that can mess with you a little bit, [with] your ability to trust your own emotions and so, for me, it's easy to sometimes second guess myself...That's something that I might struggle with and hopefully I'll be able to overcome throughout this process, or, journey.”

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Yes, after three seasons, Viall knows the importance of the word “journey” to this seemingly unstoppable franchise. He says looking back on his journey so far, his most brokenhearted moment was being dumped by Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe just as he was about to propose.

“That Kaitlyn season, that was…that was not fun,” he says. “But at the same time I think it was easier for me to get over that season just because it was so definitive.” Viall also says after splitting from his “first love” at age 23 (not on camera) he was “pretty messed up.”

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Now, he’s more self-assured, and looking for a woman who’s equally as confident. Viall says he wants someone who can call him out.

“Everyone has a little BS and sometimes you don't even know it,” he says. “I think you need that person who knows you really well, who you know isn't afraid to put you in your place. I always appreciate authenticity. I'm very attracted to women who aren't afraid to show that.”

The Bachelor
premieres Jan. 2 on ABC.