Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and leading man Matt James left as a couple during the season 25 finale but did not get engaged. Many fans are wondering: Are Matt and Rachael still together following her social media controversy, or are they both currently single?
The leading man’s final two contestants were Rachael, 24, and Michelle Young, 27. In the end, Matt, 29, chose Rachael, but things got complicated. The real estate analyst did not pop the question, but the season ended with the reality pair as a couple.
The status of their relationship has since changed following Rachael’s racism scandal, which began after the season 25 premiere in January. “Matt and Rachael Kirkconnell are no longer together,” an insider exclusively told Life & Style on March 8, one day after Matt released a statement condemning Rachael’s past social media behavior.
“Matt broke up with Rachael mainly due to the backlash. At the end of the day, he cared more about protecting himself, supporting his friend [former Bachelorette] Rachel Lindsay and speaking out against the franchise. Rachael can’t wait until she can finally share her side of the story once the finale airs,” added the source.
The leading man talked more about his decision to walk away from their romance during a sit-down with Rachael on After the Final Rose, hosted by Emmanuel Acho. “As someone who grew up in the South, it takes me to a place that I don’t often like to think about. I wasn’t OK,” Matt said about the controversy. “It was in that moment and the conversation that I had, that Rachael might not understand what it means to be Black in America. It’s heartbreaking. If you don’t understand that something like that is problematic in 2018, there’s a lot of me that you won’t understand. It’s as simple as that.”
Rachael first came under fire when a TikTok user accused the contestant of mistreating her while they were in high school together. The user claimed Rachael “bullied” her for “liking Black guys.” Shortly after, another TikTok video alleged the reality starlet previously “liked” racist social media posts that included the Confederate flag.
Insensitive photos of Rachael then began surfacing that showed her attending an Old South antebellum-themed fraternity party and another picture of her wearing a Native American costume.
The Georgia native has since apologized for her past insensitive behavior. “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or OK in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist,” part of her Instagram statement read on February 11.
On February 22, Matt released his own thoughts about the “troubling information that has come to light” since filming wrapped. “This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation,” he wrote via Instagram.
“It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, not just for me, but for all of the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season and seasons past, and for you, the viewers at home,” his statement continued. “I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end. My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
Shortly after the scandal broke, an insider told Life & Style Matt was “supportive” of Rachael amid her drama. “He has to be careful what he says on social and to the media, but he definitely wants to protect her and will be there for her,” explained the insider about Matt’s initial reaction.
The pair sparked reconciliation rumors after being spotted together in New York in early April — but Rachael allegedly discovered that Matt was “talking to another girl” at the time, Us Weekly reported. “He flew her to NYC. They’ve been working on their relationship privately over the past few months and taking the next steps to get back together,” a source told the outlet. “She’s very emotional right now because she was very hopeful that things were going to work out. She’s still trying to process this.”
Weeks later, Rachael shared Instagram Story photos and videos from an outing at Piedmont Park in Atlanta with some friends on April 15. Just hours earlier, Matt had shared a video clip of a silly moment during a flight. “This gonna be a long flight to Atlanta,” he captioned the funny footage. It appeared that the former flames may have plans to meet up with one another during the Bachelor alum’s trip.
On April 23, Reality Steve reported that Matt and Rachael were spotted at Bear Flag Fish Co in Newport Beach, California together while having lunch. He shared a candid snapshot of the pair via Twitter and added, “Rachael has been with Matt all week in CA.”
Matt vaguely clarified his and Rachael’s relationship status during an interview with People on April 28. “I’ve seen Rachael a handful of times,” he said. “I’m not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it.”
Days later, the duo was spotted in New York City together — and Matt even had his arm around Rachael as they entered a building on the Lower East Side on May 4, according to TMZ.
On May 27, Matt shared a snapshot of Rachael enjoying a moment with a young student during an event with his ABC Food Tours company, the first photo of the season 25 winner since they reunited. Two days later, the couple posed alongside Matt’s BFF Tyler Cameron and his girlfriend, Camila Kendra, at a separate event — and even took some steamy PDA-filled photos as a couple.
Matt’s mom, Patty Cuculo James, seems to approve of the pair’s reconciliation. She shared two sweet photos of her son and his girlfriend while the trio attended a hockey game together on June 8. “Cozy at the Canes,” Patty captioned one picture of the pair holding each other close. “Can’t get a decent pic with these two,” the proud mama wrote on a second snap of the duo making funny faces alongside herself.
On July 10, the pair made their red carpet debut as a couple at the ESPY Awards in-person ceremony in New York City. Matt and Rachael posed with friends on the step and repeat, and the Bachelor alum also shared several snapshots to his Instagram Stories.
The pair are going strong in the public eye. “We’re in a great place,” Rachael told Us Weekly on September 11. “We just needed to take that time away from everyone and really figure everything out, and I think that we were just so sick of the outside noise, and we were like, ‘You know what? We need to just put all of that aside and really focus on our relationship and how we feel about each other and nothing else.’ It’s been so incredible.”
She added, “I think we honestly enjoy just taking it one day at a time. Of course, we talk about the future often, but I think the best thing for us right now is not putting any pressure on the relationship because that’s what everyone else does to us every single day and we get that question every single day.”
Rachael also noted there is a lot of pressure to get engaged. “It’s like ‘When are you guys getting engaged? Are you guys engaged yet?’ And, of course, we talk about it, but it’s just been nice to not have that pressure for the last few months because that’s all our relationship was in the beginning,” she noted.
The following day, she gushed to the outlet about how her man has been doing on season 30 of Dancing With the Stars. “He’s been picking it up so quickly, so I’ve been so impressed with him,” Rachael raved. “I’m impressed with everything he does. I think he’s going to do really well. He’s not the most fluid, and he doesn’t have the rhythm down yet, but I think he will [get it].”
The pair have been navigating a long-distance bicoastal relationship while Matt films in Los Angeles. “So, I’ve been splitting time ever since he’s been out there,” Rachel told the outlet. “I’ll be out there next week again because the premiere’s on the 20th so it’s been fun going, you know, being a little bicoastal.”
While Rachael’s been visiting Matt in Los Angeles, the pair hit up the “Happiest Place on Earth,” a.k.a. Disneyland! The couple had a VIP tour guide as they made their way through the Anaheim, California, theme park, enjoying the Star Wars rides and the Alice in Wonderland ride in Fantasyland on October 1. It was the perfect way for Matt to relax and let off steam amid his grueling DWTS practice schedule. The two got in the Disney spirit, with Matt donning a Goofy baseball cap, while Rachael wore a classic gray Mickey Mouse Disneyland T-shirt.