Kristina Schulman came to Paradise to find love, but she wasn’t willing to settle.
“At that point, I had heard a lot,” Schulman, who dated Horstmann on and off before coming to Paradise, tells PEOPLE. “I tried. But mentally, I wasn’t there anymore.”
“At some point I was like, ‘Maybe if I’m still thinking about him, considering he has feelings for me, I should give it a shot,'” Schulman recalls. “But it’s like, hey, a guy doesn’t want you, chooses every girl before you, and then comes back to you and you run back and take him? I didn’t want to be that girl again.”
Ultimately, Schulman says she was even though she wasn’t willing to get into a relationship with Horstmann, she supported him platonically.
“I didn’t go to Paradise for Blake,” she says. “But he was struggling and I didn’t want him going through that. That’s why I was holding his hand through Paradise, hoping to be that shoulder to lean on. We had a good friendship going. And I wanted to stay committed to that.”
“I know Blake’s heart and I know that deep down he’s a good person,” she says. “Dean got a lot of negativity for what happened with us in Paradise and I still think he’s a good person. And the extent of backlash he got on our season is uncalled for, just like this season for Blake.”
Schulman says she even reached out to Horstmann after the show, though the status of their relationship hasn’t changed.
“We got back and I said, ‘I’d like to talk if you want to talk,'” she says. “He had just had his heart shattered and he said, ‘I need some time.’ Ultimately we came back together as friends.”
The season finale of Bachelor in Paradise airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.