"There was so much healing there. That conversation was so powerful," Clayton shared on Monday.
When Rachel and Clayton hung out, they also spent time withThe Bachelorette's Season 18 star Michelle Young, who had dumped Clayton on her 2021 season before he was chosen to star on The Bachelor's 26th season, which aired from January through March 2022.
"They see me, they get to know me, then they see her. She has her own season with Gabby and people get to know you to a degree and they go, 'I like this person, I like this person. I want this to work,'" Clayton explained, adding that many viewers relate to the franchise's leads and their personal traumas.
"I think part of the healing process for some people, they go, 'To make this all make sense, it would be really great to see these two get back together and then we can all be happy. There's a happy ending to it all and we can all feel good about ourselves as opposed to feeling terrible after what happened.'"
Clayton said fans "want to see those amends be made and healing."
Clayton then dropped the bombshell that he and Rachel actually discussed the possibility of them reconciling and getting back together on February 1.
"Her and I both talked about it. We said, you know, we have very high thoughts of each other. But, of course, after what all happened, it's like, 'How would you ever go about dating again after all of that occurred?'" Clayton reasoned.
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"She doesn't have any interest in doing so, and I got that. I also was on my end, like, 'You know what, after everything we went through, being friends sounds very pleasant.'"
Clayton said he walked away from that whole experience feeling positive and lighter.
"I just remember thinking like, 'Man, this just felt so rewarding.' And I'm just so happy to know that even someone like her -- after everything that happened and everyone that was mad at me, [she could give me grace]," Clayton explained.
Clayton pointed out how "nobody could be more mad" at him than Rachel and Gabby Windey were last year.
On The Bachelor's 26th season, Clayton had slept with both Rachel and Gabby in the Fantasy Suites and then told both women that he was in love with them.
At that point, he was also in love with Susie Evans, his eventual winner.
Once Clayton determined that he loved Susie "the most" and wanted to only date her going forward, the former football player carelessly dumped Rachel and Gabby at the same time, right after each woman had met his family and was asked to place their trust in him.
"And so for her to forgive me and tell me that, 'Hey, I understand, and I don't hold this against you any longer,' that was probably one of the best things I could have heard," Clayton gushed.
"They don't have any reason to [forgive me], but if she can, then everything that I've done is forgivable. And I can grow from this, and I can allow myself to forgive myself. If they forgive me specifically, I should be able to forgive myself. And so I did."
Clayton received major backlash -- and even death threats -- for his behavior on The Bachelor.
Hate and negativity, in fact, played a major role in Clayton and Susie's breakup. As they were trying to make their relationship work, trolls lashed out and put them down on a daily basis.
While many fans were unjustifiably harsh, Clayton admitted some critics were "on the money" when they said he "lacked empathy and emotional intelligence" for how he had handled his three relationships with Rachel, Susie and Gabby.
"I didn't make the best decisions. I mean, there were weaknesses of mine that people were calling out and they were right. It was things that I was struggling with," the 180 Degrees: On Mental Health, Mindfulness, and Unlocking Self-Belief author told Us.
"Something that I really regretted was at first, I was very defensive post-show. I was defending all of my actions without accepting accountability for what I had done."
At the time, Clayton even told the media how he hated how he was portrayed on The Bachelor's 26th season, suggesting that production and editing painted him in an unflattering light.
"I kept shooting myself in the foot where people were like, 'We get what you were thinking. It doesn't take away from the fact that you hurt these people and you're still not accepting accountability,'" Clayton recalled.
"And I wasn't accepting accountability because my ego was under attack and my ego was telling me, 'Defend, defend, defend. Keep explaining yourself and eventually everyone, you'll make it click for everybody.'"
"And thankfully, it never clicked for everybody," he continued. "People got more angry and they were like, 'This guy continues to explain himself and it's annoying. Just accept accountability.'"
Clayton recalled being "so torn down" by that point that he thought, "Okay, this isn't working your way, so how about you try accepting accountability and see how that goes."
Clayton, who recently started fresh in Scottsdale, AZ, said realizing and acknowledging his mistakes was actually "very rewarding."
"I started accepting accountability and I was able to heal and then relationships around me were healed," he said.
During the February 6 episode of "The Ben and Ashley I: Almost Famous Podcast," Rachel said she "had no idea what to expect" going into her reunion with Clayton.
"I think we knew we were going to kind of be civil, but we were able to actually have really good conversation and talk everything through as adults," Rachel shared.
"And having both been through our own seasons, it's been really nice to see him as, like, a friend now. And Michelle was there to watch it!"