Sierra and Michael quickly became vulnerable with each other and dove into deep conversation, which eventually turned into a discussion about Sierra's willingness and excitement to become a stepmother to Michael's six-year-old son James, whom he had welcomed with his late wife Laura, who died from breast cancer in 2019.
Michael, however, was still in pain and grieving, and he said he got scared about the relationship moving too fast. He therefore admitted to Sierra that something was "missing" and he just wanted to be friends, which resulted in Sierra self-eliminating from the show.
"Just know... I'm ok & well," Sierra wrote via Instagram Stories after Monday night's episode aired and featured Sierra sobbing about the breakup.
"At the time, I knew what I could/couldn't handle mentally & emotionally. I had enough self awareness to recognize that staying on the beach wasn't in my best interest. I didn't see it playing out in a positive way so, I thought it best I go home."
Michael decided to stay in Paradise and potentially pursue a romance with another woman, although he claimed he was guarded and tended to push people away in his process of healing from his late wife's passing.
"I don't want the pain I'm feeling to flow into somebody else's world. It's not their problem," Michael cried during the episode. "I don't want to hurt people in this process -- good people, like Sierra."
Sierra admitted in her Instagram Stories posting that she left the resort in Mexico "very confused and upset," but she said she was "able to gain clarity and understanding through time."
Before Michael dumped Sierra, she had registered three stars in a constellation under Michael, Laura and James' names so they would be together forever.
Michael thought it was the most sweet and thoughtful gift, and he said Sierra has "all the characteristics" he's looking for in a partner -- including inner and outer beauty -- but it still wasn't enough to keep Michael in the relationship.
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"Some may think I came on strong, but remember, you have one month... & a day feels like a week in Paradise. When someone has a child, you MUST be accepting of the responsibility that holds & show up 100%," Sierra insisted in her posting.
"My mother was a single parent at a point in time & my oldest sister as well. I value time & never want to waste mine or someone else's & when you go into things unsure or without communicating & thinking things through... you hurt others."
Sierra said she left the show because she didn't want to date anyone else, nor did she want to watch Michael date another woman.
"So I left. I didn't want to possibly get involved in a love triangle down the line & it would've been cruel to use another man as a rebound," Sierra explained via Instagram Stories.
"I'm proud I didn't hold back. I showed up as myself, & stayed true to my character by leaving."
She concluded, "I believe that EVERYTHING happens for a reason and God was working every step of the way. Blessings do come in disguises. xo."
Sierra also tweeted late Monday night, "Thanks for all the support & love. I will say, Michael is a grown man that will make decisions he feels are best for him & his family. His choices & feelings are valid & the vision he may have for his future is as well. Let's respect that. Redirection is beautiful. TRUST."
Sierra may still be healing from the breakup, but she's also in on the joke.
On Monday, she posted a video on Instagram Stories of two friends noting how they're "extremely confused" and "f-cking confused."
"Explaining to your girls he just wants to 'be friends,'" Sierra wrote on the video of her mouthing dialogue.
"Sierra is somebody that if you've ever met her, she just has so much energy," Michael shared. "I mean, one, she is gorgeous and just incredibly beautiful -- inside and out, too."
Prior to their stint on Bachelor in Paradise, Michael competed for Katie Thurston's heart on The Bachelorette's seventeenth season in 2021 and quit before hometown dates because James missed him at home.
Sierra appeared on Clayton Echard's The Bachelor season, which just aired earlier this year.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Monday and Tuesday nights at 8PM ET/PT on ABC, and Michael's journey to find love will continue.