From roses to happily ever after? As soon as Nayte Olukoya stepped out of the limo to vie for Michelle Young‘s heart, viewers could tell there was something special between him and the season 18 Bachelorette. Sadly, their romance didn’t last as the twosome split in June 2022.
Olukoya received the first impression rose during the October 2021 premiere of the ABC show, and he later said he didn’t understand the significance of the gesture at the time.
“Obviously, you can assume that it’s just who Michelle had a really good first impression of, right?” he said on an episode of the “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast that same month. “But, like, the world of Bachelor Nation? I didn’t have a clue.”
While sparks continued to fly between the pair, the Minnesota native found herself falling in love with runner-up Brandon Jones as well. After revealing in the December 2021 finale that she was “in love with them both,” the teacher was forced to face her feelings for her remaining two suitors.
“They have given me everything that I’ve asked for and tomorrow is going to be the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” she explained during a confessional in the emotional episode.
After Jones and Olukoya each chose Neil Lane engagement rings, the former Bachelor contestant turned down the Texas native’s proposal, noting, “It’s not that I don’t love you, because I do. It’s just that my heart is pushing me in a different direction and I have to go with what I feel and it hurts so much because you are this unbelievable person.”
Young later reflected on her instant connection with Olukoya after he got down on one knee.
“This has not necessarily been a smooth ride, but I’m also not willing to face that fear of walking away from this without you,” she shared. “Because I have never felt a love like this before. And I love you with my entire heart and don’t ever want to think about waking up next to anyone besides you and doing life with anyone besides you. And at the end, I wanted to be standing in front of my soulmate and he is definitely standing right in front of me.”
During the live After the Final Rose special, Young opened up about how much closer the couple became after they finished filming the reality series.
“I think what’s so hard is that you go through this experience and you have these magical moments, and you leave, like, in love, but then you spend so much more time together. You get to text, FaceTime, talk to each other’s families come and get significantly closer,” she said in December 2021. “I think the biggest thing is we communicate through everything. And it doesn’t always have to be this perfect communication but we both know we’re going to stick in it. We are going to not let go. We are going to hold on, and that is the biggest part. Because it is not easy. There’s going to be uncomfortable emotions, and we definitely had them.”
Olukoya, for his part, candidly discussed his love for Young as fans got to see them take the next step in their relationship.
“Michelle, ever since September 9th, 2021, when I got on one knee to ask you to spend the rest of our lives together, it has been an absolute dream come true,” he wrote in a lengthy Instagram post at the time. “There will inevitably be ups and downs, just like any other strong relationship. But I don’t care if it’s tomorrow, 5 years from now, or 50 years from now. I plan on always giving you my full effort and working through life with you.”
Six months after their proposal aired, the twosome announced they had parted ways. “To you, Nayte, you quickly became my best friend and the love I have for you is incredibly strong,” Young wrote via Instagram in June 2022 after previously denying the split rumors. “I will never stop wanting to see you succeed.”
Olukoya, for his part, shut down cheating speculation the same month. “No, I didn’t cheat,” the Canada native wrote via social media. “Not every breakup needs to have someone to blame.”
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