Before Katie was forced to confront a room full of her exes onThe Bachelorette: The Men Tell All, footage aired of Katie in New Mexico expressing confidence in her Final 4 bachelors -- Michael, Greg Grippo, Blake Moynes and Justin Glaze -- and preparing for the men's upcoming hometown dates.
Katie said she was "falling in love" but only wanted to tell one man on her journey to find The One that she's "in love" with him.
The Bachelorette co-host Tayshia Adams advised Katie to say what's on her heart and tell multiple men she's falling in love if that's what she was feeling.
Katie also told Tayshia that she could see herself fitting into Michael's life and becoming an instant mother to his son James. She said the idea of that life actually excited her.
But Michael was missing his son, the person he cares most about in the world, "nonstop."
Michael said being away from his child was really starting to weigh on him but the potential payoff of bringing a fiancee and mother figure into James' life was well worth the hardship.
Michael promised James via FaceTime that they'd go on a vacation for a whole week together once he returned home from "a work trip," but then James could be heard telling his babysitter or grandparent, "I know what the problem is, maybe Daddy left because he don't want to see me."
Michael assured his son, "That's crazy," and then the bachelor broke down into tears after the call. Michael said his son's reaction scared him to death because James is "the only certain thing" he has in his life.
"It's breaking me that I'm here when he's thinking that," Michael confessed.
"We've gone through everything together. For him to go through losing his mother, I don't want him to think that he's not enough. It's a lot. I feel conflicted. I feel guilty. I feel selfish. I don't know what to do."
Michael added, "I am just at war with myself on what to choose."
Michael therefore sought Katie out for a conversation in her hotel room in New Mexico.
Michael said he knew this road would be a "painful" one but the process was starting to affect his son, which suddenly changed everything.
Michael told Katie that their one-on-one date was "the greatest" and Katie erased any skepticism he had when he entered The Bachelorette process.
But Michael explained the situation had changed for him once James had lamented about his father not wanting to see him. Michael said he couldn't focus on anything else and it would be "wrong" to give Katie "only half of what [he] could be."
"It kills me because I see so much with us and I know my decision to leave hurts you too, but I'm going home because I [can't] stay," Michael told Katie, adding that he'd be leaving with a lot of what ifs about their relationship.
Katie immediately broke down into tears because she said she never saw this conversation coming and felt confused. Michael insisted he wasn't leaving the show because of "us" but rather because his son needed his father.
Michael gifted Katie the stopwatch he had given her on the first night of filming, which signified the importance of time. (Katie apparently didn't keep ahold of the watch on Night 1 because she had no pockets in her dress).
Michael said he wished they had more time "in a different world and under different circumstances" because he did think their relationship would work.
"I know it would have worked," Katie said.
"But I mean, I get it. You are a good dad. As selfish as I want to be -- and I want to beg you to stay -- it's not an option and I know it's not an option. So I support you going home to James."
Michael told Katie that she had taught him a lot, including how to love again.
Both Katie and Michael were crying, and then the couple embraced. Once they walked into the hotel hallway, Katie hugged the bachelor again and Michael said, "Goodbye."
Katie told the cameras they were so close to the end and it just didn't feel right to have Michael leave. She said their connection was "still there" and was going to go "unexplored."
"It's just hard to know the impact of him leaving right now. Michael is someone I saw myself walking away with," Katie explained. "I know what my life would be if I chose Michael, and that's a life I wanted."
Katie said while the decision was best for Michael's family, it still hurt her a lot and she was extremely sad about losing him.
When Michael appeared on The Men Tell All special with Katie's other ex-bachelors, he admitted his feelings for Katie haven't changed.
"So if Katie did say that she wanted to give this another shot, you still feel the same way? You would do it?" The Bachelorette co-host Kaitlyn Bristowe asked Michael.
"100 percent," Michael replied. "It feels as though we left so much unsaid... If love exists it will find a way. I know how beautiful marriage can be... and I wanted to let her know that's where we're headed."
Katie, however, said the ending of her season is what was supposed to happen and she still believes everything happens for a reason.