06/03/2012 at 10:00 AM EDT
Single dad Tony Pieper went on The Bachelorette
to find a fairy tale ending, but ultimately he couldn't handle time away from his 5-year-old son.
The lumber trader, 31, reflected on his emotional outbursts, Emily's decision
to cut him loose and the remaining suitors during a conference call from Beaverton, Oregon.
You had to know that the possible 10-week separation from your son would be hard. Why go?
I'm looking for a family and love. My son wants that, too. We're happy but there's one piece missing. It was worth going to find the missing piece to make our family whole.
Was it that much tougher to be away from your son than you thought it would be?
You have no idea. I've never been away more than four or five days. Days felt like weeks. I didn't realize how much it would affect me not to see him. I could talk to him and he was the cutest thing in the world. That made it better and at the same time made me sad.
Did you expect that Emily was going to send you home mid-date?
I broke down a little bit when we were talking one-on-one and she knew I was missing my son, but I didn't know right off the bat that she was going to eliminate me when she came out. It came as a surprise. But when she started going more into it, it made sense and I respected her for that.
If she hadn't, would you have left on your own?
I definitely was at that point. I don't know if I could have lasted another week.
Any regrets about leaving?
I had the 'what ifs'... What if I fought for her? What if I hid my emotions? But it was just too hard and unnatural for me to be away from my son so I don’t have any regrets.
How was the reunion?
One of the best days of my life. He came running and I hugged and kissed him. He grew, like five inches. It was happiness. A piece of my heart was back.
Had you pushed through homesickness, could you see a future with Emily?
We had a lot in common and there was an initial connection, but we didn't get that much time together and my son was all I could think about. Maybe if [I'd had] time to get to know her, we would have grown closer and it would have been easier to think, 'This could be the love of my life and that would benefit me and my son.' She's definitely very sweet, caring and genuine.
Who fits best with Emily?
Sean is a fantastic guy whose morals and values [align with Emily's] and they'd be a great couple. I'm rooting for Doug, too. He's a big teddy bear father-type. We could relate and had a [dad] bond and were there for each other. Chris is a good person but he's 25 and I don't think he's had a whole lot of time with children. He doesn't have the whole package. Jef is younger but he's got financial stability and dated girls with kids. That's obviously something Emily's looking for. Arie was the fun, happy-go-lucky guy. They have a very good connection and Arie's had girlfriends with kids so he has a really good shot of going far.
But not Ryan?
Ryan was a really good guy but it’s tough for him that she's going to be having connections with other people. I think that's going to ultimately break them apart.
Obviously, Emily is a package deal. Are there guys left who aren't ready to be stepdads?
A lot of the guys are going to be shocked when placed into that role right away. A lot said, 'Yes I'm ready.' But until you're put in that position, it's hard to tell [if you] can handle it. You don't want to bring [Emily's daughter] around all these guys and confuse her until you know in your heart that they're the one for you, but the only way you're going to know is if they're great with your daughter. I just hope it works out for Emily
Ready to continue your quest for your princess?
That is the goal. I'm not going to take any time off. I'm still out there, just [looking] in Portland now.