"I definitely felt it and knew it was coming," Taje Fowler says of her elimination from the Bachelorette mansion last night.
The 23-year-old was sent home when she and Steve both didn't receive roses from Brooke Blurton after a Mardi Gras themed group date and cocktail party.
Despite feeling a connection with Brooke from the first day in the mansion, Taje admits she knew her time was up after a behind-the-scenes moment at the party.
She had planned to take Brooke aside for a quiet moment to connect by breathing in eucalyptus leaves, a practice rooted in her Indigenous heritage, but in the madness of the party she missed her chance.
"I wanted that moment to ground us in what was happening," she tells TV WEEK. "But I didn't get the chance."
After missing her opportunity, the youth worker said she had a gut feeling she'd be going home, but that didn't stop the tears when the moment finally came.
Now, weeks after filming wrapped, Taje tells us she "knew if it [being sent home] happened, it was meant to happen" and she just wanted Brooke to find love, even if it wasn't with her.
"I'm definitely still open to love, I think it will just come naturally," the Bachie eliminee says.
"If you're pushing for something it won't come naturally."
Taje adds that though she would "never say never" to returning to reality TV, she doesn't see any more dating shows in her future.
Instead, she plans to focus on her passion for youth work and advocacy as a First Nations woman – which was actually something that drew her to Brooke in the first place.
Brooke, who is also Indigenous and a youth worker who spends plenty of time with First Nations communities, shares many of Taje's most important values and that inspired the 23-year-old to sign up for the show.
Her heritage and work with First Nations communities is deeply important to her, and Taje reveals she would never be able to date someone who didn't feel the same way.
"If someone wasn't at least an ally it would never work," she explains.
Though things didn't work out with Brooke romantically, Taje was grateful to be able to connect with her and represent her own culture as a Frist Nations woman in the ground-breaking season.
"As First Nation women, and First Nations people in general, we are not homogenous people - we are so diverse," she explains.
"Being able to be in that experience with her, I knew that we would be able to connect but also show the differences."
Not only was the season groundbreaking for casting Brooke as the first Indigenous Bachelorette, it was also the first time the mansion housed men and women at the same time.
While there was plenty of speculation about cheating scandals, Taje said the vibe in the house was actually very "mellow" and they were like one big family.
"It is so not like that, you're so focused on Brooke and being in that experience… everyone else around you is like family," she insisted.
As for claims the guys and girls were hooking up behind the scenes, Taje shot them down with a laugh.
"You wouldn't go sleep with your brother!" she joked, so consider that rumour well and truly debunked.
Want a fairytale romance without the reality TV drama? Sign up for eHarmony today!