In an exclusive interview with Life & Style, The Bachelorette runner-up Peter Kraus finally breaks his silence, sharing his true feelings about Rachel Lindsay and how hard it was for him to film the After the Final Rose special.

“It was a stressful two months, and then it’s been a stressful three months since then,” Peter said on Aug. 12 at a Worth Personal Training Boys & Girls Club event in his hometown of Madison, Wis. Now that the 31-year-old personal trainer has had time to reflect on the relationship, he says his feelings for Rachel, 32, are still strong.

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“I have love for her, for sure,” he says. “She and I went through a lot. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” He’s not “in love with her,” he says, “[but] I’ll always have love for her, there’s no doubt about that.”

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That love made doing After the Final Rose a wrenching experience. “I was crying backstage before I came out,” Peter explains. “I didn’t want to go onstage. I almost walked off, but [producers] grabbed me and said, ‘It’ll be OK.’”

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“It’s always good to see her,” he says, but admits that “it was hard sitting next to her.” She said that she already had her mind made up, and it was Bryan [Abasolo],” he adds. “So I just have to go with what she said. That night sucked. It was hard.”

And he says he honestly wants Rachel to be happy, even if it’s with someone else. “Whatever they do in their life,” he says of Rachel and Bryan, “I’m no longer a part of it. I have no qualms with anything they want to do.”

For the full interview with Peter, pick up the new issue of Life & Style magazine on newsstands now.