"My relationship with Nick and experience on The Bachelor has given me so many amazing and memorable moments in my life, and I am forever grateful. Nick and I were always transparent about the challenges in a relationship. We certainly had ours," Vanessa toldPeople.
"I fell for him hard, and when you fall in love that hard, your heart breaks even harder. In the end, as much as we loved each other and tried to make it work, we just realized we were different people fighting to keep a relationship when ultimately we just weren't the best fit for each other."
Nick and Vanessa have very similar stubborn and opinionated personalities. When The Bachelor was airing, fans even saw Nick expressing how their dynamic could either be a match made in heaven or a total disaster because of how they may butt heads.
Shortly after The Bachelor wrapped, however, Vanessa -- a special education teacher from Montreal, Canada -- supported Nick during his stint on Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars. In the months leading up to their breakup, the pair spent most of their time in Los Angeles, attending red carpet events and such.
"It wasn't the distance that was ever an issue. Both Nick and I decided together, with our families' support, that I would put my teaching career on hold and uproot my life to Los Angeles to support him on Dancing with the Stars and build a life together," explained Vanessa, who launched a "No Better You" charity while in the United States to raise funds for special education classrooms.
Just last week, Vanessa shared a photo of herself leaning on a woman's shoulder as she was wrapped in a blanket and looking out at a pond.
"It's okay to feel broken," she captioned the image at the time. "It's okay to cry. It's okay to lean on a friend. In the end, it will always be okay."
Of the emotional Instagram post, Vanessa explained, "I wanted to share that message with the world. Whatever hardships people are going through, don't be embarrassed of feeling no feelings -- if it's anger, hurt, sadness -- just remember at the end of the day to remain optimistic, because you will come out of it, and you'll come out of it a stronger person."
A source previously told People that Nick is handling the split "okay" and it "wasn't an overnight decision."
"There's no one set way to get over heartbreak. When going through any hardship, it's okay to take the time to grieve the loss of what could have been," Vanessa insisted.
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"It's okay to cry and curl up under your covers for as long as you need. I'm not ashamed to say that I've done all of those things, but with my family's and close friend's support -- it's all really helped the process for me."
Vanessa said she is just trying to look forward now and remain positive.
"It's hard sometimes, breakups aren't easy, letting go of the idea of what could've been isn't easy, either, but I'm trying to stay optimistic about the future and that one day the person that I'm meant to be with and start a family with -- when the timing is right -- we will find our way to each other."
Nick and Vanessa were both disappointed they didn't receive the fairy-tale ending they had hoped for through appearing on The Bachelor franchise, but the couple has an amicable relationship now.
"When you fall in love with someone with all that you have, it's hard to let go. Every part of you gets shattered," Vanessa confessed, adding that she wishes Nick the best.
"I'm trying to pick up the pieces... I hope he finds his person and his happily ever after that we unfortunately couldn't find together."