Michael Phelps must be glad he took this “L.”
Fiancée Nicole Johnson says breaking up with the swimming superstar was the best thing she did to save their relationship.
“Michael and I both know that had we tried to have a child and get married in the previous time we were together, it probably would not have ended pretty,” the former beauty queen told Cosmopolitan. “We both had a lot of growing up to do. We both had a lot of learning about ourselves to do.”
Johnson has been dating the world’s most decorated Olympian on and off since 2007. The couple split in 2011 before reconciling three years later, and the 31-year-old admitted she was no fan of Phelps during their separation.
“There were definitely times, and I think Michael would say the same thing, where I hated him,” she said. “We were at odds at times. Even when I loathed him, there were still times when I was like, ‘God, I wish I was with him.'”
The couple’s time apart was marked by several inglorious Phelps episodes. The 23-time gold medalist was busted for DUI in 2014 after driving more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit on a Maryland highway, and subsequently was admitted to a rehab facility. And Taylor Lianne Chandler, a transgender woman who says she dated Phelps, has accused him of rampant infidelity in the period following his moderate success at the London Games and before he reunited with Johnson and delivered a crowd-pleasing Rio renaissance.
“I don’t think you can be in a good relationship unless you love yourself to the fullest and you want to help the other person become a better person,” Johnson said. “We definitely needed that time apart to recognize that about ourselves and to appreciate one another.”
Now engaged and parents to adorable son Boomer, Johnson revealed she and Phelps are focused on wedding planning now that the Rio Olympics is behind them. No date has been announced.
“I know Michael well enough to know he doesn’t need to partake in the tiny, minuscule decisions. But I also know him well enough to know that he does want to be involved in what flavor our cake is going to be and what flowers he thinks are ugly and what flowers he thinks are really pretty,” she said. “I show him pictures and I ask what he thinks and he’ll either brush it off, which means he doesn’t really care, or he’ll give me his opinion.”
Johnson did reveal she and Phelps will be saying “I do” above water.
“I don’t see us getting married in a pool,” she said.