Bachelorette Breakup for Meredith & Ian
"Our relationship began with great expectations for a happy ending, but unfortunately things didn't work out as we had hoped," the pair said in a statement issued to TV's Extra. "What we experienced together was incredible and we are both sad to see it end. We thank you for your support."
The couple, who met on the second season of the reality TV romance, were engaged but never publicly set a wedding date. Phillips, a 31-year-old makeup artist and model, and McKee, 30, had been living together in Marina del Rey, Calif., since last year, after he asked for her hand in marriage on the show's Feb. 25, 2004, finale.
McKee left his job in equity-research sales in New York after filming the show, telling PEOPLE at the time that he knew right away about his feelings for Phillips. "When I walked out of the limo, it was 'Uh-oh,'" he said. "I love this girl."
But McKee was also hesitant about having a reality TV romance. "From day one, he said he could never see himself proposing to a woman on national television or saying the words 'I love you,'" said the show's co-executive producer Lisa Levenson.
Before her turn on The Bachelorette, Phillips previously appeared as a contestant on The Bachelor with Bob Guiney and made it to the final four. But Phillips and McKee's breakup marks the first bit of bad news for the Bachelorette couples: Along with original Bachelorette twosome Trista Rehn and her husband, Ryan Sutter, they seemed to offer proof that the show was better at matchmaking than the The Bachelor, which has left a trail of failed relationships after six seasons.
Meanwhile, the quest for love continues. Current Bachelorette Jen Schefft narrowed down her choices to four eligible men on Monday night's episode.