Bachelorette Desiree Hartsock Explains Why She Knows Chris Siegfried Is the One
08/09/2013 AT 06:30 PM EDT
But when he made it clear he didn't return her feelings – and a stunned 7.8 million viewers watched her collapse in sobs – "I was blind-sided," Hartsock, 27, says now.
Luckily the dark cloud soon revealed its silver lining. Hartsock realized the man of her dreams had been in front of her all along: mortgage broker Chris Siegfried, 27.
"Brooks's leaving gave me clarity," she says. "I had been falling in love with Chris." When he proposed barely one week later, Hartsock wept again – this time, tears of joy.
While many viewers cried "rebound," the giggling couple, so smitten they finish each other's sentences, are unconcerned about the doubters. "I knew I couldn't give up," Hartsock says of her search for love. "I'm so glad I didn't."