Ali Fedotowsky wasn't necessarily changing her mind and choosing love over work when she called The Bachelor star Jake Pavelka and unsuccessfully asked him if she could return to the show several days after leaving it to save her job.

"I had already signed a leave of absence paper before I made that phone call," Fedotowsky told Reality TV World during a Thursday media conference call.

Fedotowsky initially used her vacation time to participate in last fall's production of The Bachelor, expecting that she would be able to get a leave an absence if she remained in the reality dating show beyond the end of her vacation time.  However Fedotowsky subsequently learned that she wasn't officially eligible for a leave of absence since she had only started her job at Facebook a few months earlier.

"I didn't know about it at my hometown [date with Jake]," she told Reality TV World.  "Right after my hometown, we had a little bit of downtime, so, I was able to call my manager with one of the producers, like supervising... and that's when I found out, 'You haven't been here a year, you have to make this choice, because you're not eligible for leave of absence.'"

"[I'd] kind of [been under the] impression that I would be able to have one, and then if anything, maybe even an exception.  So, after I actually left the show and I went back to work, they ended up granting me the leave of absence afterwards.  So, there could be exceptions, but [when I left The Bachelor] I just don't really think they understood," Fedotowsky told Reality TV World.

"But when they actually saw me, and I went back, my company realized, 'Well, this is really important to her.  She's really emotionally invested in this.  We want to support her.'  So, then they actually granted me the leave of absence when I went back to work," she said.

However Fedotowsky said taking the leave of absence still wouldn't have been without risk.

"Basically what the leave of absence paper means is they're not telling me I can't have a job after taking a leave of absence... they're more saying, 'You can come back, but we don't necessarily have to have a job waiting for you.'  It's still a risk, but I more felt like it was kind of the more calculated, thought out risk, rather than something I had to make spur of the moment," she told Reality TV World.

"When I originally called my company and got told that I would possibly have to make the decision, I actually didn't get [a final answer] -- like, 'Yes, you have to make a decision' -- until about two hours before the Rose Ceremony," Fedotowsky told reporters.  "[The Bachelor] executive producer Martin Hilton was trying to help me.  [The producers] all really wanted me to stay.  I ultimately had to make this decision within hours."

While she didn't know about her upcoming decision during her hometown date with Pavelka, Fedotowsky said The Bachelor's producers did allow her to call her mother for advice before she made her decision.

"I said, 'Mom, I don't know what to do.  I'm falling in love with this boy, and he's amazing, and I had to make this choice. What happens if Jake - if I quit my job and I stay here and Jake doesn't pick me in the end, is that OK?'  And she said to me, 'I saw you guys together; he loves you, I think you're great, I think you should stay.  I think you should follow your heart.  I think you should stay,'" Fedotowsky told reporters.  "She wanted me to stay."

Fedotowsky actually left The Bachelor five days before she needed to be back at work, but she said it wouldn't have been right for her to force Pavelka to eliminate another woman at the Final 4 Rose Ceremony and then potentially leave midway through his next round of dates in Saint Lucia.
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"That definitely was a possibility, but I think the way we were all thinking, including the producers and including myself was that, that's not fair to Jake," she told Reality TV World.  "If I had stayed and gone farther in the process, and gone to Saint Lucia... then what happens when I still have to leave then?  He has less women to choose from; I just feel like that would have been really selfish."

"Since I knew this was a decision that ultimately I was going to have to be back at work in five days, I just -- it needed to be done then.  I felt that way, the producers felt that way; and I think Jake would have said the same thing if he could have weighed in before I had to make the decision."

Although she was heartbroken and shocked at the time, Fedotowsky said she now understands why Pavelka decided not to allow her to return to the show.

"I thought that I would be coming back," she told reporters.  "I know some people like, 'Oh, she was shocked. She should have known better' [but...] I kind of felt, 'Oh I know our feelings are so strong for one another, we have something so great. we get to be together - he's going to be so happy.  He's just going to be just as happy as I am."

"I didn't really think of it as much from his end; and the first time I really realized and understood his decision not to let me come back is when I saw his dates with [Gia Allemand], [Tenley Molzahn] and [Vienna Girardi], and how special they were in the relationship he was building there.  Now that I get to see that, I understand, even though it might have been a little surprising at that time and hurtful.  I was heartbroken."

However Pavelka's rejection wasn't the biggest shock Fedotowsky encountered during The Bachelor.

"I think the biggest shock for me by far is that [The Bachelor is] so real, and it's so --it hurts me when I hear people say the show is fake, the feelings aren't real.  There's no way ABC staged that.  None of that happened, it's not staged at all," she told reporters. 

"They're real feelings, real emotions.  I can not cry like that on the job. If I could cry that well, I should be an actress.  That would have been an Emmy performance.  So, I think I was just really surprised that how real it all was, and how I could have fallen for him.  I really didn't expect that going in."

Fedotowsky also said that she's now unsure whether she still regrets her decision to leave Pavelka.

"I feel like feelings are so grey; they're not really black or white in terms of looking back on certain things.  There's definitely times that I do regret it; I do regret that I - it's not even just in my moment with Jake, but sort of throughout my adult life, that I kind of have consistently put my career first, and not like put love first, then I think maybe that's why I'm single," she told reporters.

"It really depends.  When I saw Jake at The Women Tell All I felt a lot of regret.  It was sad.  And then sometimes when I'm sitting at my desk at work, I think, 'Oh, I love this job.  I made the right choice,' but it really depends.   I mean, what I can say is, if I had to choose between love and work again, I might choose love.  I think I really need to start focusing on that more."

But Fedotowsky admitted she is unsure whether she would actually be able to make that choice if she was offered the chance to star on The Bachelorette.

"The idea of kind of being put in another situation where I have to kind of choose love over work is very frightening for me.  It's terrifying.  It makes me really nervous that I might have to make that choice again, and it makes me sad," she told reporters.

"I think the big difference between making that decision now and making the decision then is sort of time.... if I had to make it again, I'd have a lot more time to think about it.  And I'm hoping -- I mean it's so hard to answer hypothetical questions, because I feel that I can say I would do one thing, and when you're actually put in this situation, you don't really know how you're going to react or how you're going to feel."