Say what you want about Jordan Kimball, but there is no denying that the sometimes controversial, always hilarious model fell hard for Jenna Cooper on Bachelor in Paradise — until his fianceé broke his heart once the cameras went away.
Cooper, 29, was allegedly secretly dating another man throughout their relationship, as reported by Reality Steve on Tuesday. (“I would never have expected this,” Kimball, 26 told PEOPLE exclusively after the news broke. “I feel sick about it.)
But PEOPLE also spoke to the couple during the reunion taping a few weeks ago, and Kimball seemed head over heels for her.
“It was love at first sight,” he said. “At first I questioned it, but then we established that it’s real. Real love can exist, even on something as crazy as a TV show.”
And he said that meeting Cooper changed him for the better.
“On The Bachelorette, you didn’t really see me apologize for anything,” he said. “I never thought that anybody was going to make me apologize. And the fact that I felt like I had to overcome some flaws to step up to her level and to be with her, it taught me a lot. You have to grow as a person to get what you want and what you deserve.”
For her part, Cooper said she got to know the real Kimball early on.
“He’s very extra and dominant and pretty and all those things,” she said with a laugh. “But I got to see a more vulnerable side and as the show went on he expressed that even more. What makes me fall is someone who can overcome flaws and issues and feel like I’m worth working towards. That’s a strong man to me.”
The couple had been planning on moving in together (Kimball wanted to leave Florida and find a place in North Carolina, Cooper’s home state) and planning their wedding, set for June 9.
“I want our wedding to be extra and fun, just like our personalities,” Cooper said. “There will be some performances, some outfit changes.”
Added Kimball with a laugh: “I’ll probably dump some Jell-O on her and watch her roll around in it. And it will be a black and white party, ’50s style!”
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Regardless of what would surely have been an epic celebration, Kimball and Cooper said they were blissfully happy just being a couple — and starting their lives together.
“Jordan gives me a sense of security,” Cooper said. “I love him because he makes me love myself. I’m okay being me and I want to be completely open and let him in.”
The only downside? “I just feel like there’s not enough time,” Cooper said. “I just want to be with him all the time! It is absolutely a fairy tale. Jordan is my Prince Charming.”