Colton Underwood says opening up about his virginity on “The Bachelorette” was “the hardest thing” he’s ever done.
“I’ve gone through a lot with that,” the former NFL player said on the “Men Tell All” special (via People), airing Monday. “It’s hard for me to even talk about it right now. But growing up, being an athlete, it’s something that I was ashamed of because it was so openly talked about in our community.”
Underwood, 26, who previously dated gymnast Aly Raisman, made it to Week 8 of ABC’s reality competition, before being eliminated by Becca Kufrin following hometown dates. Underwood said he “made up a lot of lies” to conceal details of his private life.
“I wasn’t true to who I was, and I feel like people think I’m less of a man because of that,” Underwood said. “And that’s the hardest thing for me to hear.”
Hopeful to find love next on “Bachelor in Paradise,” Underwood has no regrets over his relationship with Kufrin.
“I’m not upset or mad at her. She was being true to how she felt. So I have nothing but respect,” he told People.
He also credits the show for helping him come to terms with an internal struggle.
“I was so happy that I was able to talk about something I never wanted to share with anybody. The show allowed me to be true to who I am and it allowed me to grow as a person. I couldn’t be more appreciative of that,” Underwood said.