Zach opened up about how he believes he had "failed" Jess Girod with their breakup conversation in Estonia during Week 6 of his The Bachelor journey.
"When the last thing you could ever imagine happens, of [Jess] feeling so upset and she goes home, that whole situation just kind of felt like a weird dream-like state," Zach told Becca Kufrin and Michelle Young during his March 7 appearance on the "Bachelor Happy Hour" podcast.
"It could've gone, like, 50 other different ways. Maybe we could've taken a step back and both tried to understand each other's perspective -- and I failed on that. But it was just a weird, tough night."
During the February 27 episode of The Bachelor, Zach criticized Jess' fixation on not having been asked on a one-on-one date yet.
When Jess attempted to express how she felt frustrated about her string of group dates and was losing confidence in herself and their relationship, Zach snapped at her and complained, "That shouldn't be a thing."
"Looking back on it, before I even watch the episode, I had left that entire conversation at that time confused as well... The conversation was long and had to be condensed, but Jess coming to me and expressing these concerns about the one-on-one, I took it out of context," Zach said.
"I'm seeing Jess show all of this, like, emotion and anger with me about this when all the time, in the weeks leading up to this, we had a very strong [connection]. And I wasn't necessarily [aware] she was worried about not having a one-on-one."
Zach said he was "caught off-guard" by how "upset" Jess was with him at the cocktail party in Estonia.
Other than Greer Blitzer -- who was diagnosed with COVID-19 after visiting London and had to quarantine -- Jess was the only woman who had yet to accompany Zach on a solo date by the time they traveled to Estonia.
But Zach admitted that before that conversation, there was "zero" chance he was going to deny Jess a rose that night.
"I was not expecting [that outburst] because with Jess, in [preceding] weeks, I was confident with her... The nerves played a huge factor with her, and I wanted her to feel very comfortable with me. And I felt very comfortable with her, from a very early point," Zach recalled.
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Zach said, for instance, he had shared something very personal with Jess in Week 2 of the process and she made him feel at ease.
"That was awesome. I was like, 'There's something really strong about Jess that I'm digging," Zach said, adding that Jess struggled to let loose, feel comfortable, and open up in subsequent weeks.
"That put a fear in me. Because once you do a one-on-one date, you spend all day with someone. It's important, and I can see why she really, really wants one. Everyone wants one. I guess in me saying, 'I feel so confident,' I didn't really have any doubts, other than the nerves."
Zach said their lack of a one-on-one date "all of a sudden [hit] this boiling point" with "emotion and anger."
"I was caught off-guard because I never knew she was feeling this strongly about not having a one-on-one, and she was thinking it was me not wanting to take her or me not liking her -- and that was the furthest thing from the truth," Zach said.
"It was just a shocking moment where we didn't say anything; we both stood up and walked out. And I still look back at it and it is a confusing, tough thing that I know I could've handled better."
Zach could tell that Jess was frustrated, but he said they had "talked since" -- an apparent reference to their participation in The Bachelor season's The Women Tell All special, which aired on ABC on March 14.
"It was one of those moments, even watching it back, I don't agree with the way I handled it, but there was never any bad intention behind it," Zach insisted.
"It was shocking for me, but also completely understanding where she was coming from. She wanted to just spend that one-on-one time and I took it as, 'It's not just about one-on-ones, it's about everything.' Yet it totally makes sense that's what she needed and I didn't give that to her."
Zach said he and Jess essentially got caught up "in the heat of the moment" and he wasn't able to think through his reaction and response.
Zach said he didn't have any down time to process what Jess was telling him and that the breakup didn't even make sense to him weeks later.
"For weeks, I tried to mentally wrap my head around what had happened. And now watching it back and talking with her... I understand where I missed the line, and I wanted her to know that that's not what I wanted for us, and that's not how I wanted her to feel," Zach explained.
"[I wanted] the furthest thing from it, but my actions showed [otherwise]. So I apologized for that, and I think we're on good terms."
During Jess and Zach's breakup conversation in Estonia, Jess explained how she had been waiting for a one-on-one in order to spend a whole day with Zach and be more vulnerable with him.
Instead of comforting Jess and validating her concerns, Zach seemed bothered and surprised by Jess' emotion. She thought the lack of quality time with Zach was "a big deal," but Zach couldn't seem to understand why.
"I never want you to think of this as a process, where you can only open up on a one-on-one," Zach told the bachelorette.
Zach ultimately realized he and Jess had "a disconnect" and were "butting heads." At that moment, he no longer felt confident in their future together.
Jess, seemingly offended by Zach's sudden lack of confidence, told Zach that she wasn't going to fight for him because she deserves and needs a man -- after painful failed relationships in her past -- who will fight for her, and so she got up and left.
Jess left the show angry and in tears, venting in a confessional, "This doesn't feel fair... I have done everything that he has asked, and... all I needed was quality time, and he wasn't processing that."
Jess continued, "Is it the craziest thing to want to go on a date with somebody I could potentially marry? Like, it's the craziest thing that I'm upset that I'm the last one [without a solo date]?"J
ess complained in her final words about how she wanted to feel chosen and it was "crazy" that Zach was so "shocked" by her hurt.
And Zach, for his part, told the cameras that he never expected their romance would end that way.
Jess told Us Weekly after the episode aired that she and Zach simply had a misunderstanding and she respected the Bachelor for speaking his truth. She said no one was right or wrong in the situation and she didn't think Zach had treated her poorly or too harshly.
Nick took another jab at Zach when he tweeted on March 6, "Every time Zach hears any of the [women] express an insecurity, instead of showing an ounce of empathy, his face just drowns in disappointment."
Nick also wrote, "Zach is now fully in 'I'm the Bachelor, and it's your job to prove to me you're worthy' Mode."
Coming up on The Bachelor's 27th season, Zach will be shown narrowing his group of Final 3 bachelorettes to his Final 2 women.