Dean, a 26-year-old startup recruiter who currently resides in Venice, CA, brought Rachel home to meet his estranged family in Aspen, CO during the latest The Bachelorette episode.
After an emotional night in which Dean and his father discussed painful memories of death and neglect, the bachelor expressed he was "falling in love" with Rachel, and she said the same words to him in reply.
"We ended up sharing our love for each other. In the moment, it was honestly how much I cared for him and that made the Rose Ceremony in Dallas that much more difficult," Rachel wrote in her People blog.
Rachel decided to give roses to Eric Bigger, Bryan Abasolo and Peter Kraus after their hometown dates, rejecting Dean in the process. Dean seemed offended that the Bachelorette would confess feelings of love only to send him home immediately afterwards.
"I cried on the entire flight to Dallas, and I cried all day leading up to it. I didn't want to make a decision," Rachel confessed.
"I wanted to run and just go home and never have to break another heart again. But when my tears dried I realized that, while I do feel a love for Dean, I'm just not sure he's in a place in his life where he's ready to settle down and start a family in the near future."
Rachel didn't deny the fact Dean matured and grew emotionally during the dating process, but he still wasn't quite at the level Rachel was hoping for when looking for a future husband.
"Through this journey, Dean learned a lot about himself and a lot about love -- and he learned those things through our relationship. I still think he's figuring himself and his feelings out. It was a tough goodbye -- he was defensive, confused and a bit angry," Rachel explained.
"I know that sometimes at first being angry is easier to stomach than allowing yourself to be sad. I prayed that night the he wasn't leaving this relationship believing I judged him based on meeting his family. I only judged him on if he was ready for the same things I am."
It was probably difficult for Dean, however, to separate Rachel's feelings for him from her feelings toward his family. Dean felt the need to keep reminding Rachel that the family visit was representative of his past and not what their future would look like as a couple.
"As playful as the day was [ATVing], I could sense Dean's anxiety when we chatted about his family. It was clear Dean didn't just lose his mom when he was a teenager, he lost the support of his whole family. It seemed like an issue that they had yet to address in over a decade," Rachel wrote in her blog.
"Dean made it clear he wasn't introducing me to his family to show me the people he loves the most, he wanted to show me the dysfunction that he had been avoiding. Luckily, on the way to the family home we were able to have a couple drinks with his friends whom he considers family, and I was able to see Dean light up and flash that smile that would make any girl melt."
Rachel insisted that when she first walked into the home of Dean's father, she didn't feel uncomfortable at all.
Being a free spirit, the Dallas attorney actually enjoyed the "gong cleansing ceremony" and the "homemade daal." Dean's sister Sky also opened up Rachel's eyes to how strong Dean is as a person given the burdens and struggles of his past.
"At a time when Dean needed them the most, it seemed they were busy grieving in their own way. She also touched on how their father had not been there for the kids following their mother's death... Watching back now, I realize just how bravely Dean had confronted his father that night regarding their absence in each other's lives," Rachel explained.
"I was saddened to hear from him that his dad walked away from their conversation much liked he had walked away from the conversation I tried having with him."
Rachel acknowledged that some people have a really hard time facing their past in that they "believe walking away is akin to not dwelling on it. I really think Dean's father saying him not supporting Dean actually benefited Dean in the long run is what really sent Dean emotionally over the edge."