Despite the drama and curveballs thrown by Tuesday night’s “Bachelor in Paradise” finale, the series’ conclusion also reunited viewers with beloved couple Danielle and Michael, who revealed to TheWrap why they left paradise together instead of getting engaged.
“I knew I was not ready to get engaged, I knew he wasn’t ready to get engaged,” Danielle told TheWrap. “At that moment … there was part of me that scared that it would be like every other relationship in the past when I got really excited about someone, and they just couldn’t be me where I was … and he met me there.”
“What we were able to share on the beach represents a drop in the bucket,” added Michael, who told Danielle he was in love with her for the first time during the reunion. “It’s really been the relationship that we’ve been able to develop off-camera that has allowed this whole thing to really develop and turn into something great that we’re both looking forward to.”
After Danielle arrived on the beach relatively late into paradise, the blooming couple was thankfully spared from Split Week — and was extremely confused when they returned from their date to find an entirely new group of Bachelor Nation women in place of the women that were previously on the beach.
“Honestly, we needed time,” Michael said, adding that he thinks the couple would have been included in Split Week had Sierra not left. “There was a lot of things in my life that I had to take into account.”
“I came in at a weird time,” Danielle recalled, noting that she probably would have “lost her s—” had the pair been separated. “I didn’t know what I was walking into.”
Despite coupling up late in the game, their relationship progressed to the point of deciding to leave the beach together in a emotional moment in which Michael took out a compass he had made for his family before his wife passed away, and shared with Danielle that it brought him to her.
“That’s … the most important thing I own and I keep it with me all the time,” Michael said. “When I’m balancing my past, my present and future, I lean on that and I feel like it helps me remember my past and allows me to feel comfortable moving forward with my past … that moment was incredibly special.”
For Danielle, who has also experienced the loss of a loved one when her then-fiancé passed away in 2011, the couple’s mutual understanding of loss was an important part of their journey.
“It’s just so special to have someone that understands that part of you,” she said. “It’s not something that we want to define ourselves but it’s always gonna be something that we carry with us.”