Bachelorette's Emily Maynard and Jef Holm End Engagement
updated 10/17/2012 AT 09:05 AM EDT
•originally published 10/16/2012 AT 08:10 PM EDT
The pair open up about the split in exclusive statements to PEOPLE:
"I am sorry to tell you that Jef and I have, indeed, parted ways," Maynard says. "It was a very difficult and heartbreaking decision.
"As you know, at first I wasn't sure that I should even be The Bachelorette, but I am a hopeless romantic and I do believe in the show. I have no regrets because I did find love and shared an incredible journey with a really special person – and you know what, we tried our best because the love between us was so real.
"I have nothing but respect and love for Jef and his family, but ultimately we are just at different points in our lives.
"I've learned so much and I'm grateful for all of the support I've received. I'm excited and hopeful for the next chapter in my life with my daughter, Ricki. I do hope that you will respect our privacy and allow us the time we need to heal."
And Holm tells PEOPLE:
"Meeting Emily on The Bachelorette was an incredible experience, we've had quite the journey. I've never loved someone so much in my whole life, Emily is the best person and mom I have ever met. She opened up her world to me and I fell in love with her, [her daughter] Ricki, her family and the Hendricks.
"She has a great group of people who surround her. What we shared was completely genuine and real and it breaks my heart but we have decided to break up.
"Emily will always have a special place in my heart. I don't regret a single second I spent with her or Ricki. They both have been a huge part of my life. Who knows what tomorrow will bring but we are moving on to the next chapter of our lives.
"Emily and I are great friends and I hope we can continue to be friends forever. Everyone wants a salacious story to break, but the truth is we are just two people who fell in love and tried our hardest to make it work. I will always love her."
The official confirmations follow weeks of rumors that the couple, affectionately known as "Jemily," was on the verge of splitting up.
In recent weeks, Holm and Maynard have spent significant time apart.
Holm, who relocated to Charlotte last month, has been spending more time in Los Angeles promoting his company, People Water. Maynard, meanwhile, has been going about her life quietly with daughter Ricki, 7, in Charlotte.