This post contains spoilers from Monday's season premiere of The Bachelorette.
Following Andrew Spencer's shocking departure, Bachelorette Katie Thurston admitted to co-host Tayshia Adams at the start of Monday's episode that she didn't realize how much she cared for him until they said goodbye.
Unfortunately, Michael didn't feel as confident. While FaceTiming with his son James, he was asked by the 4-year-old if he hadn't been home because he didn't want to see his child.
That left Michael feeling conflicted. "It's breaking me that I'm here when he's thinking that," Michael said in an on-camera interview.
So he knocked on Katie's door to inform her of his struggle.
"Something happened which kind of changes things for me," Michael told Katie. "Obviously, James is home, and I was FaceTiming him. He said [something] outside of the 'Where are you? Why aren't you coming home?' He said, 'Why don't you want to see me anymore?' And that's … I can't focus on anything else."
Michael continued, "And with hometowns coming up, I feel like it's wrong for me to give you half of what I could be. And it kills me, because I see so much with us and I know my decision to leave hurts you, too. But I'm going home because the beautiful boy needs his dad."
Katie didn't see the news coming. "I saw us going to the end, which makes this really confusing for me right now," she told him.
"I'm not leaving because of us," Michael said. "I'm leaving because my son needs his dad. I promise you."
Will you accept this rose? Sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly Bachelor Nation newsletter to get the latest news on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and everything in between.
Before leaving, Michael gave Katie the watch he presented her with on the first night (he'd held onto it because Katie didn't have any pockets) and lamented that they didn't have enough time together.
"You're a good dad," Katie said. "As selfish as I want to be and I want to beg you to stay, I just know it's not an option."
Before they hugged goodbye, Michael told Katie, "You taught me how to love again."
"It's very possible that my person just left," Katie told the cameras.
The Men Tell All gets heated
Before the rest of Katie's journey plays out, Tayshia and her co-host Kaitlyn Bristowe sat down with Michael and the other men Katie has said goodbye to so far during the second half of Monday's episode.
Tayshia and Kaitlyn started off by asking Aaron why he had beef with Cody. Aaron called Cody "disrespectful" and claimed the zipper sales manager came on the show for fame, going as far as posting on Instagram, "I will be famous in six months." But Cody refuted that, saying, "I was not referring to the show whatsoever."
Brendan sided with Aaron and Karl called the culture in the house a "witch hunt." That put the attention on Karl, who during his time on the show made the accusation that some other men aside from Cody were there for the wrong reasons, but wouldn't name names.
During the Men Tell All, Karl accused Canada native Brendan of only coming on The Bachelorette for a trip to the United States and "free beer." Brendan and Karl got in each other's faces, and then Hunter's name came up as another one of this season's liars after he changed his tune during the drag queen date about being in love with Katie.
"I don't think that I lied about that," Hunter said, adding that he differentiated between "falling in love" and "being in love."
Connor B., who roomed with Hunter in the house, came to his defense. "He was falling in love with Katie," he said.
Connor may have found a connection after all
Connor then stepped into the hot seat himself to reflect on his breakup with Katie that unfolded during their one-on-one date. "Of course, I was sad that I had to go through the breakup," he said. "I was heartbroken, but in that moment, I just wanted her to be okay."
Asked what went wrong, Connor considered that he might've been the issue. "It's so tough because if it started out that strong, what did I do wrong? You can't help but think that," he wondered before realizing, "That spark wasn't there for her."
Connor confessed that he even texted some of his exes when he returned home to ask, "Am I a trash kisser?"
"My ex said, 'No.' I was a good kisser," he said of the poll results. "It's the connection, it's not just one person being a good kisser or not, it's about the connection."
One female audience member took the opportunity to share her thoughts on the subject. "I know that you can't be a bad kisser," she shouted from her seat.
The men and other audience members alike encouraged her to come up on stage and find out for herself, so the woman came down and locked lips with Connor. She rated the kiss an 11 out of 10 and Connor gave her an honorary rose. As the two hugged goodbye, Connor said to the woman, "I want your number."
Andrew S. reflects on his unexpected exit
Andrew called his relationship with Katie the "real thing" and said that after leaving, he didn't feel excited about the prospect of being single again.
"Obviously having to restart again is never something that you want to do," he said. "Especially [after my relationship] with Katie, where I never even felt these feelings before. ... I was like, this can't be happening."
Now, "I'm still waiting for someone to just pick me for me," the pro football player continued.
Tayshia complimented Andrew for bringing up the topic of interracial relationships on his one-on-one date with Katie. "There was no way I was going to shy away from that," he said.
Despite things not working out, Andrew said he still considers himself a "hopeless romantic." "I wanted to give this my full effort and see if we could fall in love, and I think we got pretty damn close," he said.
Later, once Katie came on stage, he told her, "I know in my heart that everything that we had was super real. I have no regrets about anything."
Michael A. stands by his decision to leave
After watching back his departure, Michael said, "It's kind of a reminder of what I had to do in order to be a great parent to a beautiful son, and that balance that all single parents try to keep together, which is taking care of somebody that they truly love while simultaneously trying to find happiness for themselves."
He called that "a constant juggling act," but after everything his family has been through, he said leaving the show early "was my only decision."
Still, he said he felt "very proud of myself" for even coming on The Bachelorette. "I'm so happy that I just did it," he said. "Katie and I just had this connection that happened right off the beginning and looking back on it now, nothing's changed."
Kaitlyn asked Michael whether he'd rekindle his relationship with Katie if given the opportunity. "One hundred percent," he replied. "It feels [like there's] so much left unsaid."
Michael added that he didn't think he'd even be open to finding love again after the death of his wife, whom he'd been with for 16 years. "There's tons of hope out there for me now, and it really wouldn't have existed if I didn't take this leap," he reflected.
The single dad reiterated as much to Katie. "Going through this journey with you did help me understand that I can find love again," he told her. "And you were so open and honest and welcoming with all the complexities that exist within my own life, and I trusted and still do trust that you would be fit for that role in any capacity."
Kaitlyn told Katie that Michael would be open to a second chance at their relationship. But Kate moved on. "I have nothing but love and respect for Michael, but ultimately I could not dwell on the past," she said. "I had to continue to move forward, and my ending is ultimately how everything was supposed to happen."
Katie calls Aaron the wrong name
After Katie came out, the rest of her exes had a chance to talk to her, and Aaron said he still supports her even though they didn't end up together.
"Hopefully you know that I always had your best interests at heart, and hopefully it made it easier for you to fall in love with whoever you did," he told her. "I don't know how it ended but I'm always going to be in your corner. Thank you."
Katie's response to Aaron's heartfelt message? "Thanks, Thomas."
Everyone gasped and cringed at the slip-up. "That's my mortal enemy," Aaron joked.
Thomas gets one last stand
Though Thomas' name came up a lot throughout the night, the real estate broker who owned up to having thoughts about being the next Bachelor didn't join the rest of Katie's former suitors on stage. But Tayshia and Katie eventually brought Thomas into the conversation over video chat.
"A lot of my actions ended up taking away the attention from you and away from a lot of amazing guys in that room," Thomas told Katie. "And I just want to say I am so sorry for that."
Thomas also said he didn't understand why Katie's feelings for him shifted so quickly.
"The night of the rose ceremony you came to talk to me, and as I'm talking to you about what we were going through and I'm practically crying, you're sitting there smiling at me saying your speech, and it just didn't feel genuine," Katie explained. "And there's really no point to waste your spot and keep you another week at that point."
Thomas thanked Katie for that closure and said he felt "grateful for the journey that we went on."
The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.