Tommy Garcia/Bravo; John Valkos/Bravo (2)
During Thursday's episode of Southern Charm, Austen, 33, confessed that he was still in love with Madison following their split. And when he found out that John Pringle hung out with his ex one-on-one (and complimented Madison's physique), Austen sat down with his costar to have the "guy code" conversation.
Earlier on in the episode, while having a heart-to-heart with Craig Conover, Austen said that Madison had "preconceived notions" about him, "where it's like, I'm not where [she thinks] that I should be."
Craig, 31, didn't hold his opinion back. "She treats you like s---. You're sitting here thinking it's your fault that you're not dating. It's clear that Madison doesn't want to be with you."
"It's hard to hear, but she just doesn't like you anymore," Craig continued. "So then she has this control over you where like, you're out here doing all of this for her now instead of yourself and being like, 'Oh, if I only get better, if I only do good enough, she'll take me back.' When she's just living her life."
While Austen said Craig was "right," he noted that their journey was "confusing," because "the second that you think it's chopped, a text comes in and it's like, 'Everything's going to be okay. I promise I'll hold your hand forever,'" he said, reading a text from Madison.
Though Craig told Austen that he was Madison's "fall-back" and encouraged his friend to put a "hard stop" to the relationship, Austen admitted that "walking out of each other's lives has just been very, very tough."
"I can't do that," Austen said about Craig's suggestion that they stop talking. "I can't. And I don't think that anyone can change my mind on that."
Paul Cheney/Bravo Austen Kroll and Madison LeCroy
Meanwhile, Madison, 31, stopped by Patricia Altschul's home, where she opened up about the breakup. "Austen came by the house and I put my foot down and ended it for good," she said, adding, "This is really it. This is really the cutoff."
As for what made this time different, Madison said she expected Austen "to want to be an adult and provide, and I don't see him wanting to do that in any capacity at all."
In a confessional, Madison further elaborated, "Let's be honest, I'm not going to look like this forever. I'm in my prime. So please, go waste someone else's time."
Later on in the episode, at Patricia's crab feast, the Southern Charm men — including Shep Rose, Craig, Austen, John and Whitney Sudler-Smith — all gathered outdoors for some food and fun.
Before the party, Austen spoke with Craig over the phone, sharing his thoughts on John's interest in Madison. "I haven't seen Pringle since he was like, inappropriate regarding Madison," said Austen. (John had previously told Austen that Madison was "hot.") "He better not come up to me and be like, 'Hey man, I heard that y'all broke up. Can I ask out Madison?' Like, I'll f---ing lose it."
On the way to Patricia's house, single dad of two John told Shep in the car that he had seen Madison "since the breakup," when he went and played baseball with her and her son one week prior.
"She told me at the batting cages it was done," John said about Madison and Austen's split. "And then I was like, 'Your thighs look great.' And we moved on."
Finally, at the party, Austen confronted John about his "playdate with Madison," which Austen found out about through his ex. When John asked if Austen got "pissed," Austen set the "guy code" ground rules.
"I would never tell you to not be friends with her. I would just say things were at one point a little inappropriate. I was like, 'What the f--- was Pringle doing?'" Austen said. "And there's a guy code, if you and I want to continue our friendship."
"And that means Madison is off limits, romantically speaking," he clarified. "And we have recently split. ... But still, it's just one of those things like, I will always care about her."
John admitted that he "was out of line." "And you checked me, and a good friend does that when you're f---ing being an idiot. I'm not afraid to be like, 'You were right, I was wrong.'" With that, John went in for a hug with Austen and the pair agreed "to be buds."
"There are so many more fish in the sea," said Austen. "Not Madison."
John Valkos/Bravo John Pringle
In a confessional, though, John seemed to have a different perspective. "Forty-three talking about guy code. It's so f---ing stupid. It's like, 'We're not going to date ever again, but she's mine. I own her.'"
Speaking with Patricia, Austen opened up about the split, saying, "I mean, I wish that I was 10 years older and I had it all going on and we could be together."
"I just love her to death, I just do," he told Patricia, 79.
"I know that I'm good enough for Madison," Austen told cameras. "And I almost like, feel bad that it's like, 'Has Patricia ever been in love? Or has it always just been about the money?'"
At the episode's end, Craig met up with Madison alone — a conversation he didn't tell Austen about. During the chat, Craig asked Madison if she still loved Austen. "I don't know, that's a hard one," she said.
To Craig, it was an easy answer. "No, it's not. If you can't say definitively, 'Yes, I love this person,' you're not in love with him."
He then brought up the idea of her wedding day, and Madison envisioning her husband at the end of the aisle. "When you see the alter, you want it to be him, but it's not him," Craig said, referencing Austen.
"No," she admitted, "it's not."
Austin Kroll/Instagram Austen Kroll and Madison LeCroy
"And that's why I'm coming to you," Craig said. "He doesn't even know I'm here. I'm never going to f---ing tell him about this, but like, the nicest thing you could do if you care about Austen is to walk away and not talk to him anymore. Ever. Cut him out of your life."
While she said that wasn't "going to happen," Craig insisted, "You know that's the only way that this works."
Pleading with Madison, Craig said: "This is my last resort. I don't know what else to do other than tell you that unfortunately you have to f---ing walk away."
Southern Charm airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.