'The Bachelor': Matt James Struggles With Commitment Concerns as He Decides His Romantic Future

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Matt James is addressing his fear of commitment. During Monday's finale of The Bachelor, Matt's mom, Patty, reignited doubts that he felt after speaking to his dad, Manny, in last week's episode.   

During Matt and Manny's conversation, the Bachelor emotionally confronted his dad on being absent throughout his childhood. The talk ended with Manny apologizing to his son, and Matt saying it was a good "first step" in their relationship. 

After meeting -- and liking -- both of Matt's final women, Michelle Young and Rachael Kirkconnell, Patty had some words of caution for her son.

"When you say you love somebody, does that mean, 'Oh, automatically, I'm gonna become engaged,' or does that mean, 'I feel comfortable enough to see where this is gonna go down the road?'" Patty asked. "... I know they both love you, but feelings come and go... People fall in and out of love, and love is not the end-all, be-all."

"My mom, she's reiterating that love isn't something that's gonna carry you through a marriage or an engagement, and it just takes me back to a very dark place," Matt told the cameras after his mom's comments. "I think about my dad not being ready, and I think about how that hurt my mom and destroyed our family."

"Now I'm having this realization for the first time," he continued. "I'm just thinking to myself, 'Am I ready? Am I ready to make that everlasting oath and commitment, or [am I] just doing something that I'm not ready for?'"

Amid the emotions that came from speaking to Patty, Matt requested a talk with Chris Harrison, during which he admitted that he may not be ready to get engaged.

"I think about the look on my mom's face when she [talking to me]. I could almost see her tearing up a little bit thinking about how feelings faded with her and my dad," Matt told Chris. "I'm just thinking about where I'm at with Michelle and Rachael and how serious of a commitment I know that this is."

"That commitment, to me, is everlasting," he continued. "The more information that I'm learning about myself, and my family, and my mom, and what it takes to have a healthy relationship, the more I'm starting to pump the brakes on, is it something that I'm ready to commit to right now?"

While Matt said that "the easy thing" would be for him to propose to either of his final two, Matt didn't feel that was a good enough reason to pop the question.

"[I'd] go through with this whole process and get down on one knee and do something that I'm not ready for, and then what happens?" he said. "It sets our relationship course for something that neither one of us are ready for... If I want what's best for my relationship with Michelle or my relationship with Rachael, then it's to do exactly what I'm doing and have this conversation with you and dig deep into myself and make sure that I'm the man that I wanna be for them in our relationship, regardless of if that's three days from now or three years from now."

"I've been nothing but real with Rachael and Michelle, and I owe it to them to continue to do that," he added. "I just wanna move forward this week and continue to stay open-minded about everything."

After breaking up with Michelle, Matt's insecurities came out even further, as he questioned if he wanted to move forward with Rachael.

"The look I can't take out of my brain that I saw on my mom's face when she said that feelings fade and what that meant to me, and what it means to my mom, and what it's meant for her in her life and my brother's life and my life," he tearfully told Chris. "That scares me... They loved each other, and it faded for them. I saw how it affected my mom, and I saw how my dad still hasn't taken accountability for it. He's someone who's never gonna be ready for marriage."

"I can't speak for Rachael, but I refuse to put her through what my mom went through. The last thing I wanna do is bring someone into a situation that I'm not ready for," he continued. "I don't have the clarity that I thought I would have right now and that I need to make that decision. Rushing into something that I'm not ready for is not something that I'm willing to [do]." 

Matt added that the situation was "scary" and that he didn't "know how to go on."

"To be honest with you, Chris, I just need some time," he said. "I feel like everything that I thought I was working towards is starting to crumble, and I don't know what I'm gonna do."

Matt decided to cancel his last date with Rachael, but opted to move forward with picking out an engagement ring with the help of Neil Lane.

"There's a lot of weight in this. This is more than just a ring. To me it represents what my father couldn't give to my mother. It represents a lot of broken promises," he said. "If I put this ring on Rachael's finger, I wouldn't ever want it to come off. Tomorrow's a big day and I'm just thinking to myself, 'Am I ready?' I don't know."

Matt next invited Rachael to the lake to give her "answers," but he was still questioning what those answers would be while waiting for her to arrive.

"I'm about to walk into the biggest moment of my life. It's gonna be the most difficult decision I've ever made. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know what I'm going to say to her," he said. "I have this beautiful diamond ring in my pocket... but is that something that we're ready for? I don't know. Is love enough?"

Rachael arrived and professed her love for Matt once more, before Matt explained why he couldn't pop the question.

"I couldn't live with myself if I put you through what my mom's been through. I've seen what rushing into a proposal, a marriage, can do in my family, and it's ugly, and it's not something that I want for you or for us," he said. "That's why I can't propose to you today."

Though he didn't propose, Matt did express his love for Rachael and they decided to continue into a committed relationship. That changed, however, on After the Final Rose, when Matt revealed he broke up with Rachael in the wake of her racism controversy.

When Matt's conversation with his dad first aired, he took to Twitter to speak out against stereotypes assigned to Black men.

"Tonight’s convo with my dad was hard to experience, and it’s just as hard to watch all this time later, especially knowing the world is watching with me," Matt wrote at the time. "I just wanted to say that too often, we see dangerous stereotypes and negative depictions of Black fathers in media. And they have consequences when presented without context."

"All I hope is that people watch that conversation with nuance, care, and also an understanding that there are real systemic issues at play," he added. "I’m so proud of myself for being vulnerable, and I’m so proud of my mother. I wouldn’t be who I am without my dad. That’s a fact."

Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay called Matt's statement "powerful" and "well said" on the Bachelor Party podcast. In the same conversation, though, she criticized the franchise for airing the father-son conversation at all, saying the producers "were so willing to throw [Matt] under the bus and exploit him and stereotypes within the community for what you would call 'good TV.'"

"What’s the one thing we know about his dad? That he wasn’t around. That's it," she said. "That's all we know, which, if you know anything about stereotypes that are assigned to particular races, here, the Black race, you know that absentee fathers is a stereotype."

"... If the Bachelor franchise has shown us anything, it's that they don't know how to protect people of color, they only know how to exploit them," she added. "They only know how to mishandle situations when they come to race. That is what they've shown time and time again. This should've never been aired for America to see."

Follow along with ET's coverage of the Bachelor finale and the After the Final Rose special here.


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