'The Bachelor': Clayton Reveals the 'Tremendous' Realization He Had After Sending Serene Home (Exclusive)

The teacher was sent home after her hometown date.

Clayton Echard had a major realization when he sent Serene home. On Monday night's episode of The Bachelor, Clayton said goodbye to Serene after she told him "I love you" during her hometown date.

Before getting in the car and leaving Bachelor Mansion, Serene asked Clayton if he was ending things because he couldn't reciprocate her confession of love. When ET spoke with Clayton, he revealed why that question from Serene changed how he approached the rest of his journey on The Bachelor.

"When she left and she said, 'Hey, listen, I told you how I was feeling, expressed those feelings of love, was that what sent me home?' That is when I realized that, because you're withholding this information, these feelings, these women are going to now start to question if what you have is genuine," Clayton said. "That really did not sit right with me."

"Serene opened up my eyes tremendously, where I realized that I was making a mistake of harboring my emotions," he added. "I was withholding them because I was afraid that once I opened up in one area, I would open up in another, and that would lead me to going down that path of falling in love with multiple women. That was scary to me."

As fans of the franchise know, Clayton's fear did come true. In previews for the remainder of the season, Clayton confesses that he loves each of his final three women, Susie, Gabby and Rachel.

"I really was trying to stop myself from getting there because I didn't feel that it was the right thing to do," Clayton said. "I thought, 'There's no way you should be falling in love with multiple women. That's a mistake.' I was trying to convince myself to not do that."

But, Clayton said, Serene's exit made him realize, "I have to be forthcoming and I have to let these women know how I feel."

"I'm going to now allow myself to fall in love with multiple women, but then you're just going to have to roll with it and try to handle it to the best of your ability," he said.

Despite their breakup, Serene told ET that she still considers Clayton to be "a great guy." As for if she'd be interested in being the next Bachelorette, Serene said, "I'm definitely still open to opportunities for finding love."

"I did a lot of work with my breakup and going home to make sure that I'm not putting my walls back up, so I definitely feel ready to find that person," she said. "If the right opportunity presents itself... and I feel like it's something that's meant for me, then I would definitely be open to that."

Clayton Echard's season of The Bachelor airs Mondays on ABC. ET has got you covered throughout the entirety of Clayton's season with all of our Bachelor content