Michael and Sierra Jackson made an early and seemingly deep connection, but Michael eventually determined something was missing between them and his grief was preventing him from letting his walls down and truly investing himself in the relationship. (Michael, a single father to a six-year-old son James, had lost his late wife Laura to breast cancer in 2019).
Once Michael dumped Sierra, she chose to self-eliminate, leaving Michael vulnerable in Paradise.
"Some things take time. I can't put my finger on it, but something's missing with us. And I know you can feel me being guarded, and I don't mean to do that," Michael told Sierra during their breakup conversation.
"What scares me the most is that I'm using people that I actually care about to help me get there, and I'm hurting them along the way. It's messing with me... and I don't want you to be one of those. I think the best thing is space from the romantic pressure and just be friends."
Given Sierra wasn't The One, Bachelor in Paradise bartender Wells Adams asked Michael what he's looking for in a partner, and Michael said he'd like to find a woman who understands his past experiences and what his life is like as a widower.
Michael said he wanted to stick around in Paradise but he probably needed "a miracle" to happen.
Wells then appeared to orchestrate Danielle's entrance just in time to save Michael.
Danielle is a 37-year-old model and former neonatal nurse from Colgate, WI, who currently resides in Nashville, TN.
Michael greeted "Dani" and gave her a huge hug, and he explained how the pair had become friends by communicating via direct messages on Instagram prior to filming the show. However, the pair had never met in person until Paradise.
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Wells explained how Danielle is "the sweetest, nicest and funniest" woman he knows and he thought she'd be perfect for Michael and vice versa.
"They're the same person with different genitalia! They should be together!" Wells joked.
While chatting over cocktails, Michael said he definitely felt something with Danielle and couldn't wait to see if their connection could be something bigger. The single dad confirmed that he was "definitely interested" in Danielle and it's rare he's THAT interested in a woman.
Danielle gave Michael a rose at the second Rose Ceremony of the season, and the next day, the pair went out on a date.
Michael told the cameras how he and Danielle were a perfect match on paper after they went sailing on a catamaran.
But the guarded bachelor admitted in a confessional, "I've been in love before and I know what that feels like. I know what it felt like the first time I met Laura, and it's not the same feeling that I have with Danielle. I think I may be comparing the first time we met and that spark, and I'm not sure if that's fair or not."
Michael wanted companionship in life, but he was afraid he was becoming an impossible person to love due to his walls being up.
However, Michael opened up a bit more when the couple went out to lunch after the boat ride.
Michael shared with Danielle how he was scared of hurting people and sometimes self-sabotaged relationships once they got serious. Michael said he had dated two people after Laura's passing and he wasn't sure if he was running from them or they just weren't the right person for him.
Michael said he wanted to be with a battle-tested woman and welcome love again, and Danielle shared, "There's a song by Grace Potter called 'Stars.' The main line in it was, 'I lit a fire with the love you left behind.'"
Michael found the quote so pertinent and thought it was really sweet, and Danielle actually brought him to tears. Michael realized a piece of Laura still exists within the love he could possibly share with Danielle, and then the pair kissed at the table.
Michael concluded how he was hopeful and the day had been the greatest day ever.
"Maybe it's the last first date of my life," Michael noted.
Once the couple returned to the Paradise resort, they held hands and kissed on the beach.
Michael gushed about Danielle's inner and outer beauty as well as her kind heart, and Danielle seemed absolutely smitten with the bachelor, whom she said was very handsome in person.
It seemed like Michael and Danielle were on their way to falling in love.