Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty, Rich Polk/E! Entertainment/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty
Greg Grippo didn't think his relationship with Katie Thurston was really over when he left her season of The Bachelorette.
During a recent appearance on the We Met At Acme podcast, Grippo opened up about his "really tough decision to leave" the ABC dating show, admitting that he still had hope that he would end up with Thurston once the show stopped filming.
"I was calling producers after [I quit], I was DMing, like, Kaitlyn Bristowe, nobody was answering me, but I was like, 'Is she with him? Did they end up together? Is she coming back to New Jersey?' I was calling producers left and right," he told host Lindsey Metselaar on the podcast. "I was also telling my family, I'm like, 'Guys, I think there's a better chance than not [we get back together] because let me tell you, it's like very real between us.'"
But when Grippo found out she was engaged to Blake Moynes, he said he immediately recognized their connection.
"I like to think on my end [that] the feelings that we had were real, but I just truly believe that she had stronger feelings for Blake, who ended up getting engaged to her after," he said.
Grippo also opened up about what led to his untimely and dramatic exit, saying he didn't feel like he was receiving "mutual love" from Thurston.
"It felt, like, a little too scripted and felt like, 'Alright, we need to play by [the rules]' — I had no problem going into, like, the fantasy suite and there being two other guys there," he explained on the podcast. "I wasn't looking for the show to end. I wasn't at all. I wanted us to communicate on a mutual level in those moments. I understand it's tough when you have two other relationships but for me, I just wanted that mutual love."
Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty
RELATED: The Bachelorette's Greg Grippo Says He Was 'Way Too Harsh' on Katie Thurston During Their Breakup
The former Bachelorette contestant, 28, shared that his exit hinged on knowing Thurston's true feelings for him.
"It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to, you know, choose for myself. It was tough, especially after hearing everyone saying like, 'Oh, I was acting or I ran away when it got too serious,'" Grippo said. "I mean, for me, I'm like, 'What if she said I love you back, guys?' Like, I couldn't leave then, you know, I would have known then [that] this is gonna be my wife, I wouldn't have left.
Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty
The New Jersey native said that after his hometown date, he realized that he and Thurston might be going in different directions.
"After emptying my heart, I felt like I put all my cards on the table and I showed her my hand. This is us," he shared. "I definitely just wanted a little crumb. For us, we just weren't on the same page and I feel like that was very telling about where we're going to be headed in the future. It just seemed like the right move for me."
He now knows that his relationship with Thurston is in the rear-view mirror.
"That chapter's closed. I don't mean that in any harsh way. But just, I'm just at another point in my life. And I don't think we're right for each other anyway," he shared.
Following the airing of the show in the summer of 2021, Thurston accused Grippo "gaslighting" — or lying, discrediting, deflecting blame, shifting blame, denying wrongdoing, using compassion as a weapon and rewriting history — throughout their relationship causing a social media outcry amongst fans and leaving Grippo in a dark place.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
"I didn't leave my bed for 10 days. My family was really worried about me. I was in a really dark spot. I felt like the only person in the world honestly. I felt like nobody was going through what I was going through in that moment which is, you know, naïve. There are worse things in the world. I felt like I couldn't even be seen after that for a while. I was embarrassed, ashamed."
Grippo struggled to understand the claims but denies that he had any intention of "gaslighting" Thurston.
"I felt like people were tossing around that word. … I'm, like, truly trying to understand what people were trying to say like, you know, [saying I was] really manipulating her mindset — and that's the furthest thing from what I was trying to do," he shared. "Not even a sliver of my intention was to gaslight her at all."