'The Bachelor': Jess Opens Up About Her Anxiety Struggles After Her Dramatic Breakup With Zach (Exclusive)

Jess Girod
ABC/Ricky Middlesworth

The e-commerce coordinator got candid in an interview with ET.

Jess' doubts got the best of her during Monday night's episode of The Bachelor. After the e-commerce coordinator failed to land one of the week's solo dates, she was chock-full of anxiety and lacking in confidence, both of which ultimately led to her breakup with Zach Shallcross.

"Anxiety is something that's pretty new to me. I, to be truthful, just started realizing that anxiety was what I was feeling coming onto the show," Jess told ET. "I struggled a lot with it, just with comparison, naturally, and just my own fears, and getting in my head."

Those feelings led to an awkward conversation with Zach, where Jess expressed her disappointment over not landing a one-on-one date, and the tech executive questioned why they couldn't have deep discussions when they did get the chance to talk. Ultimately, the pair decided to end things.

"I'm not going to fight for someone," she told Zach. "I told you all I wanted was for someone to fight for me and I'm not doing that. I'm not going to beg for you."

As Zach watched Jess' car be driven away, he broke down in tears, questioning, "What the f**k?"

"That night was a blur when we were there. I didn't expect the night to go that way," Zach told ET. "What the episode showed was both of us being very frustrated and we both weren't getting what we were trying to get across. I really, really liked her, and the last thing I would've thought that night... was that she'd be going home. I was completely blown away and shocked. It didn't hit me till the car drove away, so it was a lot. No other way to put it."

While it was clear that the pair were having trouble understanding each other during their final conversation, Jess told ET that, even if they had been able to break through the frustrations, the result was inevitable.

"At the end of the day, if we had more time, he would've been able to see more of who I am, and I would've been able to see what makes Zach, Zach," she said. "I think it would've been beneficial to both of us, but if we were each other's person, time with each other would've happened no matter what. Even if that conversation was happening, I think he would've stopped me from leaving, or he wouldn't have let me leave or walked me out."

"I think everything happens for a reason, and we just weren't each other's person," Jess added. "It was still a tough ending to a relationship that was good and strong. He had to trust his gut, which I respect because it protected me at the end of the day."

As for her battle with anxiety, Jess said that she sought support, and would encourage others with similar struggles to do the same.

"I think anxiety is something that we can't just get rid of, unfortunately, but I feel like I've been doing my best, journaling, going on walks, just doing that everyday thing that's going to help me control it," she said. "... Anxiety is not something that you should go through alone... It's always good to try to figure out what the root cause is and be able to find someone that's comfortable and safe to confide in about it."

While Jess went home this week, Charity and Ariel were luckier, landing the two one-on-one dates. While the latter was full of laughs, as it took place at a nudist sauna, it was the lead up to the former date that brought some drama.

After missing out on her planned one-on-one in London due to Zach's positive COVID diagnosis, Charity was thrilled to finally get some solo time. When Zach arrived to pick her up, though, Kat pulled him to share a moment and a kiss, causing the tech executive to return to the room with lip gloss on his mouth.

"I stand by the intention, which was just to try to better my relationship," Kat told ET of her controversial interruption. "I never intended to hurt anyone's feelings. I apologized in that moment multiple times, and I continue to do that today."

Brooklyn was decidedly not OK with Kat's actions, something she made abundantly clear throughout the episode. In fact, she called the move "classless" and "tacky."

"Charity had three moments at this point taken from her. She had her group date rose taken from her. COVID took her one-on-one in London from her. And then that moment [was taken from her]," Brooklyn explained to ET. "... There's a level of respect that I felt was disrespected and I did not like that. I'm always going to say what I'm thinking. You'll always know where I stand. I do know sometimes I can have a harsh delivery and I won't deny that, but I also probably won't change it."

Kat wasn't cool with Brooklyn's involvement, telling ET, "Although she was expressing herself, it wasn't really centered around her relationship, it was centered around Charity's relationship."

"I understand she wants to defend her friend," Kat said, "but it just got to the point where it felt like a constant beratement on me and who I am."

The controversy didn't result in any of those women going home, rather Aly was the one who was sent packing at the rose ceremony.

"I definitely was shocked," Aly told ET of being sent home. "I feel like Zach told other women when he was confused or uncertain, and we really didn't have those conversations about that. A lot of our conversations were really happy. They were very friendly."

"He reiterated many times that he wanted a friendship through this, and so in my head, I'm thinking, '[That's] why we're moving slow. You wanted a friendship, so a friendship you have,'" she continued. "I think we were close friends throughout the entire process, and so it was a bit of a shock."

Even with her disappointment, Aly said she wasn't upset with Zach for his decision.

"There's so many women and so many connections and you don't know how other connections are progressing. So, while I was sad for myself, I literally smiled when I went up and got to say goodbye to him, just because I was so excited that he gets to continue on," she said. "I just think that's a testament to the friendship that we created."

Host Jesse Palmer is likewise a fan of Zach, and even praised the tech executive for how he handled his Bachelor journey.

"Zach is mature beyond his years. He is an emotional guy. He wears it on his sleeve. Zach can make decisions. He can make tough decisions. He can make them by himself. He can make them quickly," Jesse told ET. "He cares about the women, cares about his time with them. He's very intentional."

"You can say whatever you want to say about Zach, but I think people are figuring out now why he is the Bachelor. He's been amazing, in my opinion," he added. "He was perfect to do this. He has all the qualities you need and I think people are going to continue to see that as the season unfolds."

The Bachelor airs Mondays on ABC. Stay up to date on all the drama with ET's coverage of Zach Shallcross' journey for love.