The Bachelorette alum Michael Allio has insisted his son was "in good hands" when he left to film Bachelor in Paradise's eighth season in Mexico this past summer.

Bachelor in Paradise premieres its new season Tuesday, September 27 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC, and Michael will be one of the initial 19 cast members looking for love on the beach in Mexico on Day 1.


Michael, a widowed father and business owner from Akron, OH, memorably self-eliminated on Katie Thurston's The Bachelorette season in 2021 because he felt he needed to get home to his four-year-old son James.

Michael's Bachelor in Paradise participation therefore surprised some fans considering he'd have to leave James again, but Michael insisted to Entertainment Tonight that both he and James felt content with being away from each other this time around.

"Since we've had some history of doing this in the past, we were a little bit more prepared this time around," Michael told ET of himself and his son.

Michael shared, "He's in good hands," adding, "I mean, I never would leave if I felt like he wasn't in a good place. I miss him already, and so it will be hard being away."

Michael said he left James with his parents and his in-laws.

"They came to him with this vacation package while I was gone," The Bachelorette alum noted.

Michael has been raising James on his own, with the help of his beloved parents and in-laws, ever since his college sweetheart and late wife Laura Ritter-Allio died from breast cancer in January 2019.

"When I told him I was going away, he was like, 'I'm going to have so much more fun than you,'" Michael recalled of his son. "And I'm like, 'Little do you know.'"

Michael said he took "a break from dating" after his The Bachelorette stint because it took him "a decent amount of time to reset" and get back to a healthy mental state where he could be his "best self."

Michael explained that, months later, he decided to give dating in Paradise a chance as a way of "investing" in himself.


"I think a lot of parents, they have a tendency to lose themselves in the role of being a parent and you forget that they're humans too," Michael shared. "That have their own needs, that they are their own person."

"Taking three weeks out of the year, while it will be hard to be away from James, I think it's a necessary investment and I think it'll turn out to be good," he teased.

But Michael said going on Bachelor in Paradise was never part of his plan.

"I didn't have this in the cards whatsoever, but I think the idea that I can make connections with multiple people, that this setup gives you a lot more time to get to know the person you're with [is great]," Michael reasoned.

"Honestly, dating as a single dad is really challenging, not just the logistics, but, I mean, at 8:30 my son's in bed and if I were to go on 10 first dates, that's 10 days away. I'm kind of focused on... getting to know people while I'm down here, and hopefully walk away with someone I can spend the rest of my life with."

Michael said he liked how the filming process was "more relaxed" than The Bachelorette.

"I think that's kind of the best way to get to know somebody," Michael said.

"Also, one thing I always look for in a partner is how they act around other people. How do they act around my friends? How are they received by a group? If you are the lead, you don't get that privilege, because everything is so separate, so I'm really interested to see how that works out."

Michael noted how he had "no idea" whom he was going to meet and ultimately decided against doing any research so he could give all the women a fair shot without judgement.

"I specifically did that because I don't know what it's going to feel like to meet somebody in person," Michael told ET.

"I don't want any preconceived notions of who they are or how they were portrayed on previous seasons," he said. "If it feels right, it feels right and that's good enough."


Michael said his goal was to leave Paradise with a partner because he's "not somebody that likes to date multiple people."

"I've actually never dated two people at the same time. I've only said I love you to one person in my entire life," Michael said. "I am a little bit guarded after the loss of Laura, but I'm hoping to let those walls down and be able to kind of open up my heart again."

Michael also teased that Bachelor in Paradise's eighth season "will be unlike any other" before it.

"There are going to be so many twists and turns. I'm going into it with the full intention of leaving with somebody I can finally build my life with," Michael said.

"As they saw from Katie's season, I don't know how to separate what goes on here from real life. They're gonna see a very raw version of me and hopefully see other elements of my personality as well."

Michael concluded that he was "happy" on the beach and even a little "surprised" about his choice to appear on the ABC series.

"I'm grateful to be able to do this," Michael said.

The Bachelorette fans swooned over Michael after he revealed on Season 17 of the series he's a widower who thinks it would be a blessing and unique opportunity to fall in love twice.

Michael decided to leave New Mexico and go home in fourth place on The Bachelorette after a heartbreaking FaceTime session with James, during which James had asked why his father didn't want to see him. (At that point, Michael had been away filming the show for over a month).

Michael told People in July 2021 that quitting the show and leaving Katie in tears was "a really difficult decision" for him to make.

"When your child says that, you answer the call," Michael said at the time.

On The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All special that aired that same month, Michael admitted he would love to resume dating Katie again if she'd be willing to give their relationship another shot.

But Katie announced she had continued her journey to find love following Michael's departure and was "happy" with how her season turned out.

"I've been waiting to have this conversation with Katie for a while -- I mean, since the day I left New Mexico, it's been on my mind. She did provide clarity for me to be able to begin starting over and finding [love] all over again," Michael told People after the special aired.

"The closure I got was basically that the position I put her in created a chain reaction for other things -- I know that when I left, there were three amazing guys that could have had better relationships [with her] than me the entire time."

Katie's Final 3 bachelors were Blake Moynes, Greg Grippo and Justin Glaze, and Katie's The Bachelorette season ended in August 2021 with Blake proposing marriage.

Katie and Blake, however, broke up just a couple of months after the finale aired in October 2021.

When chatter and speculation began about The Bachelor star for 2022, many franchise fans were rooting for Michael to lead Season 26 -- including The Bachelorette alum Becca Kufrin, who called Michael sweet and genuine on her "Bachelor Happy Hour" podcast, as well as Katie herself.

Katie told Access last summer that her "Top 2 picks" for The Bachelor's Season 26 star were Michael and Andrew Spencer, adding, "They'd both be amazing Bachelors."

Michael told People in July 2021, however, that he was "not sold on the idea" of leading the franchise.

Michael explained, "I literally just got my heart broken on TV, so I am trying to mend those wings. And I have to think about what it would be like to get engaged in and introduce someone to my son in such a quick timeframe."

But Michael insisted to the magazine, "I do think love is totally out there for me."

ABC ended up choosing Clayton Echard for the role, and his Season 26 The Bachelor finalists Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia just wrapped up The Bachelorette's nineteenth season.


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About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.