But Michelle, who held down a job as an elementary school teacher in Minnesota, and Nayte, who lives in Houston, TX, never fully joined their lives together, and so the long-distance couple announced their split on June 17 in separate Instagram postings.
During a July 5 appearance on "The Ben & Ashley I: Almost Famous Podcast," Ashley Iaconetti asked Michelle if her big decision to stop teaching was because she wanted to spend more time with Nayte and/or try to live with him in a state other than Minnesota.
"Yeah. I think -- I would say Nayte and I are very independent people. But at that same time... I personally want to work towards different things, right? We're in two different places. He's in Austin, I'm in Minnesota, and long-distance is difficult," Michelle explained to Ashley and her co-host Ben Higgins.
"But yeah, I think having the summer off and being able to step away from teaching, that would have happened, regardless of a relationship, regardless of influencing [or] whatever you want to call it."
When Michelle, a former fifth-grade teacher, announced in late May that she'll be embarking on a career change in 2023, she said on her "Bachelor Happy Hour" podcast that she felt "burnt out" and was tired of functioning in "survival mode" considering she's had so much going on in her professional and personal life over the last two years.
"I've decided to step out of the classroom," Michelle announced, adding how she doesn't believe teachers are being valued and supported and that change must be made.
Michelle reiterated on the "Almost Famous Podcast" how she just "really needed to take a breath out of teaching."
"But would that have resulted in spending more time with Nayte? Yeah, naturally," Michelle admitted.
Once Michelle finished as Matt's runner-up, ABC selected her to be a leading lady of the franchise, but she postponed the subsequent filming her The Bachelorette edition later that year so she wouldn't have to disrupt the school year.
(ABC made plans around Michelle's teaching schedule, which resulted in Katie Thurston starring onThe Bachelorette's seventeenth season in the first half of 2021 and Michelle's season premiering in Fall 2021).
Michelle boasted about her passion for teaching during both shows, and so her exit from the classroom came as a big shock to fans.
Michelle apparently intends to spend her time influencing, working for nonprofit organizations, and working behind the scenes to better the education system.
"This doesn't necessarily mean that I'm not going to continue working towards a Master's [degree] in administration and potentially get back into that direct line of education," Michelle previously shared of her career change.
"But it's me stepping away for a year to truly capitalize and push forward and put all of my energy and efforts into my passion in a different way, and really, truly try to push for that change."
In late June, Nayte denied ever cheating on Michelle as fans continue to speculate what went wrong in their relationship and led to their split.
"No, I didn't cheat," Nayte wrote via Instagram Stories on June 25, according to Us Weekly.
"Not every breakup needs to have someone to blame. Yes, many of you seem to paint me as a red flag/ f-ck boy... But I'm actually a decent guy, and I only want to continue getting better. As we should all want for ourselves."
When Nayte first announced his split from Michelle, he wrote on Instagram Stories, "When we both started this journey, we were looking for our Soulmates. Our forever. Our best friends. However, as we grow and learn, we also realize that sometimes somebody that you hold dear to your heart isn't somebody that you're meant to spend the rest of your life with."
"Michelle and I are going to move forward separately. Hearts are heavy, emotions are high, and we are dealing with this the best way we can," he continued.
Nayte said his "heartbreak is real" and the couple would be keeping the details of their split private. He also defended the genuineness of their relationship, which ended only six months after the finale of theirThe Bachelorette season aired last year.
In Michelle's statement, she thanked Bachelor Nation for their support and noted how having a relationship in the public eye was not easy.
"I'm struggling to say that Nayte and I will be going our separate ways but I stand with him in knowing the heaviness that is present in both our hearts as this relationship has been very real for us," she wrote last month.
"To you, Nayte," she added, "you quickly became my best friend and the love I have for you is incredibly strong. I will never stop wanting to see you succeed."
"I will always acknowledge and appreciate the adventures, support, and growth both Nayte and this experience have brought me. At the same time, I'm deeply hurting and will need time and space to work through this heartbreak."
Nayte explained last month via social media how he and Michelle had decided not to move to the same city in order not to rush anything, according to Us.
"Plans changed as we decided there was no need to rush anything and get to know each other on a deeper level before taking the leap of living together," Nayte wrote.
"There's no rush in life. There's no rule book or timeline on how to go about your relationship. We believed that since the love was there, everything would fall into place naturally and in its own time."
"We tried," he added. "It didn't work. We're sad about it. We all grieve different."
Michelle and Nayte's split announcement came only a few weeks after Michelle took to Instagram on May 30 to deny rumors that The Bachelorette couple had split up and ended their engagement.
Michelle was spotted without her engagement ring on, but Michelle said her friend had tried on her ring momentarily and she's not a "zoo exhibit" for people to watch and record on their phones.
In April, Michelle had said she and Nayte were in the beginning stages of wedding planning.
"Nayte and I, we know so many different people and we have such big families and that's a huge part of [our planning process]," Michelle told the magazine at the time.
"And so coming out of a pandemic... one thing that we both can't imagine is having a small wedding," the Minnesota native added, "and so we want to make sure that we're completely clear of that so that's not even a stressor for us, and then, [we want to have] warm weather [on our big day]."