Bachelorette Losers Speak!

02/19/2004 AT 10:00 AM EST

The Bachelorette's Meredith Phillips has chosen her two finalists – so what better way to celebrate than letting the brokenhearted dumpees lick their wounds on national television? ABC did just that, rounding up all 21 of them for Thursday night's special, "The Men Tell All." And while finalists Matthew Hickl, 28, and Ian McKee, 29, are left to compete for Meredith's affection next Wednesday, runners-up Chad Schlee, 32, and Lanny Lawrence, 26, spilled their guts to PEOPLE about their experience.

Hometown and current residence: Buffalo, N.Y.
Occupation: Pharmaceutical sales ... once

How did it feel to be eliminated right before the final episode?
I thought I would make it into the final two, and when I didn't, I was devastated. But I also know she's got something even more special with these two guys, so you know, as much as it hurt me, I didn't want it to keep going if it wasn't right.

Are you friends with Ian and Matthew?
Without a doubt. I definitely got to know Matthew more than Ian not because of anything with Ian; he's just more of a private person. What they are portraying of him on TV is an accurate portrayal. He's got a mysterious and intriguing side to him, while Matt and I sat down in the house a lot to have heart-to-heart talks about how he was feeling about Meredith.

What about Meredith? Are you still open to be friends with her?
Yeah. Seeing her here today for the reunion, it was tough. but I could also tell she was happy, and she always has a special place in my heart. Whoever she chose, if they get married, I would love to be invited to the wedding.

What is special about Meredith?
Meredith makes you relax immediately when you meet her. She's genuine, she's real, she makes you laugh, but if she doesn't like something, she's not afraid to step up and say, okay, this shouldn't be happening. She's got a huge heart, and you can tell she was in this for the right reason.

How has the single life been since the show?
The show opened my eyes to a lot of different things. I hadn't met that special person and I thought I met that person on the show, so she definitely sets the bar high and it's going to be tough. But when I do start dating again, I won't compare anyone to Meredith. Meredith is someone that had qualities I really liked, but it wasn't meant to be. She is going to have a piece of my heart, but someone else will complete me.

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