A match made in Paradise has come to an end.
“We rushed into a relationship,” Saeli tells PEOPLE. “And we realized that we just weren’t connecting anymore.”
The 24-year-old investment analyst from Hannah Brown‘s season of The Bachelorette first hit it off with Fransway, 28, at the June wedding of Paradise alums Chris Randone and Krystal Nielson in Mexico.
“There was something mutual that we both felt,” says Saeli. “There was a spark between us and we both wanted to explore it.”
Back on the beach, Saeli began dating fellow contestant Caelynn Miller-Keyes, but after she left him for Dean Unglert, Saeli was alone — and hoping Fransway would show up on the beach. In a twist of fate, he made the decision to leave just before she arrived. When she learned that he was gone, Fransway left the beach to pursue Saeli.
“I was so excited to see her show up at my room,” says Saeli. “After that we got to spend a couple of days together in Mexico to get to know each other. And it was really cool.”
Initially, the couple’s future seemed rosy.
“After Mexico, I ended up flying to Los Angeles [Fransway’s hometown] with her,” says the Texas native. “I got to meet a bunch of her friends and it was cool to see her life there. Things were going really great.”
But by the end of August, “we realized the relationship was moving really quickly,” explains Saeli. “We almost skipped over those beginning of relationship steps, like really getting to know each other. We were basically thrown into a long distance relationship. And the fact that we had to be private about it [as the show was airing] made it even harder.”
And ultimately, when they were together in L.A. last week, “we both agreed breaking up was the right thing to do,” he explains. “It was 100 percent mutual. We’re just not right for each other.”
Still, “there are no hard feelings,” says Saeli. “I think we’ll be great friends. She’s definitely a person I want in my life.”
And he won’t completely rule out the notion of one day reconnecting romantically.
“That’s something we’ll see in time,” he says. “You never know what could happen down the road.”