Fans will watch the 26-year-old former football player kick off his journey to find love when The Bachelor premieres on Monday. He's keeping tight-lipped about whether he ends the show engaged, but his recent statement on marriage provides some interesting insight on his post-filming priorities.
"The Bachelor isn't for marriage," Underwood said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. "Of course, you want it to end in a marriage, [but] it's for a proposal, and it's typically to fall in love, and to find your person, to spend time developing a relationship and spending time on a relationship and on your personal life. And that's exactly what I did."
"I wanted to make sure that I did things my way, and I know that sounds sort of brutal to say, but because there has been a format to this show, and there has been success attached, for a reason, but everybody loves differently," he continued. "Everybody goes through this process differently, and I'm included in that."
Before meeting the 30 women who will vie for his heart this season, Underwood told ET that marriage was on his Bachelor bucket list. "I want to find a wife," he insisted, adding that his young age had nothing to do with his readiness to settle down. Now, however, he's not afraid to admit that he still has some growing to do.
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"I'm not going to have it figured out. I'm still learning a lot about myself," he shared on Thursday. "I'm still learning a lot about what I like and what I don't like out of relationships and out of all aspects of life. And I think that's the beautiful thing: now I get to have the opportunity to maybe do that with somebody, and to grow and go through life with somebody."
"I think that's what makes The Bachelor so special... they've done such an unbelievable job [at] really pushing these relationships and pushing these individuals to talk about things that, in today's society, they don't want to share, they don't want to open up about, because they're afraid of being judged," Underwood said. "People like me, who were afraid and closed off in the past, now I can open up, now I can stand tall and be proud of who I am and really live my life and really start figuring out who I am and what I want out of life."
"In that moment with Caelynn, we had a conversation that both of us haven't had the whole time in our life. I know for me, after spending time with her and hearing some conversations from her end, it allowed me to open up and really talk about something that I haven't openly discussed at all," Underwood expressed. "So I think that's all I can say about that, in the moment, and I think once it all plays out, I think it will make a little more sense."
Underwood said he's "the happiest I've ever been," but wouldn't share whether that has to do with his supposed fiancee or girlfriend. When asked if it was a priority to take things slow with his potential partner after the speed and pressure of finding a relationship on The Bachelor, he said it was important not to have a "game plan."
"I didn't want to have everything figured out, because I've done that my whole entire life. I think with the game of football, and as an athlete, I was so used to planning, strategizing and being aware. I just wanted to be present and in the moment," he explained. "I wanted to feel all the emotions and I wanted to go through this in the most raw and vulnerable way possible. I feel like I did that."
"[But] it's very important for anybody who is in a relationship that's [in the] public eye and public opinions on it, to really just stay focused on what matters and that relationship," he noted.