The Bachelor couple Colton Underwood and Cassie Randolph have announced they've split after about 18 months together.

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The Bachelor Season 23 couple -- who never got engaged and only continued dating after Colton's The Bachelor season wrapped filming in November 2018 -- announced their breakup in a pair of Friday evening Instagram posts following weeks of speculation about the status of their relationship.

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"First off, I want to say this is one of the hardest things I have had to share as neither one of us is quite ready to talk about it yet," Cassie wrote in her Instagram posting.

"However, because our relationship is such a public one, our silence on the matter has been speaking for us. Colton and I have broken up, but have decided to remain a part of each others lives," she continued.

"With all that we have gone through, we have a special bond that will always be there. I love Colton very much and have an enormous amount of respect for him. We have both learned and grown so much these past couple years, and will always have each others back. Always."

Colton also expressed similar "will remain friends" sentiments in his posting.

"Its been a crazy few months to say the least, Cass and I have been doing a lot of self-reflecting. Sometimes people are just meant to be friends - and that’s okay," he wrote.

"We both have grown immensely and been through so much together - so this isn’t the end of our story, it’s the start of a whole new chapter for us."

Given the timing of the pair's postings, they appear to have been deliberately scheduled as a "Friday news dump," a publicity tactic in which the release of negative or unflattering news is held until late Friday afternoon or evening in an attempt to avoid or reduce media coverage and scrutiny.

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Rumors and speculation about the couple's relationship have swirled for weeks as they had been spending time apart in different states and neither of them had posted about the other on Instagram since April.

However, earlier this month a source told Us Weekly that "everything is fine" between the pair.
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"[Colton] is just in Colorado visiting with his family since he hasn't been with them since the pandemic broke and recovering from COVID-19 himself," the source assured the magazine.

"He was with Cassie up until the night he left for Colorado, but he'll be back in L.A. soon. They're both just enjoying time with their families."

Colton's last post on Instagram about Cassie had been on April 27 when he had wished her a happy birthday.

"There are a million things I can say here about how great you are, but I'd rather keep that between us. Thank you for being you and letting me share this last year with you. [I'm] a better man for loving you," Colton captioned a slideshow of photos and videos of the couple.

"Can't wait to make more memories. last but not least: Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens. Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."

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And Cassie hadn't shared anything about Colton since April 19, when she promoted an episode of Coffee with Colton in an Instagram video that was released on the All Social Official app.

A follower therefore wrote on Colton's May 11 Instagram post, "Are you and Cassie still together????"

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And another Instagram user commented, "Where is Cassie????"

Prior to reuniting with his family in Colorado, Colton had been recovering from coronavirus in Cassie's family's home in Huntington Beach, CA.

Colton announced on March 20 that he had tested positive for the virus, but eventually made "a full recovery" thanks to Cassie taking care of him.

In his new memoir, The First Time, Colton admitted he and Cassie briefly split and went their separate ways in August 2019, People reported, but the former pro football player told Us in March that he and Cassie openly talk about getting engaged and their future together.

"We have decided we're not moving in together until we're married so we have something to look forward to in that step... We need to get through school and see how all that shakes out," Colton said on the March 31 episode the magazine's Here for the Right Reasons podcast.

Colton added at the time, "She still has her internship... and it takes a lot of her energy and focus. I can't imagine having to plan for a wedding, and we still don't want a long engagement, so we want to make sure that timing-wise it's all right."

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In addition, Colton had said on the podcast he and Cassie were definitely "up for" more reality TV.

"We've both talked about that and we're very hopeful that something might happen. We don't know, but we're definitely onboard with it. I understand the risks involved... but we both like and enjoy being on-camera. I don't see anything wrong with saying that," Colton said.

"We like opening up when we can and when we feel it's appropriate, so we wouldn't mind it."

Colton became a member of Bachelor Nation when he competed for Becca Kufrin's heart on The Bachelorette's fourteenth season in 2018.

After failing to win her heart, he gave Bachelor in Paradise a shot but then went on to become The Bachelor's Season 23 star.

When Colton starred on The Bachelor, his season ended prematurely when he fell in love with and selected Cassie over his other two remaining bachelorettes, Tayshia Adams and Hannah Godwin.

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Colton had made up his mind before even finishing out his round of overnight Fantasy Suite dates.

Colton had therefore built up a lot of anticipation for his Fantasy Suite date with Cassie, and it seemed he was ready and willing to lose his virginity to her during their romantic evening together.

However, Cassie attempted to quit The Bachelor at that stage in the process because she didn't feel ready to get engaged after dating Colton for such a short period of time.

Colton nearly ended production because he was so devastated, but he fought for Cassie to stay and ultimately convinced her to give him another chance.

Cassie was hesitant to continue but decided to stick around for Colton now that pressure of an engagement was off the table, and then she proceeded to meet his family on the show and fall in love with him once filming wrapped.

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