Michelle Young Basically Wrote You A Breakup Survival Guide
School is in session.
Michelle Young was the first Bachelorette ever to receive a down payment on a home at her season finale. Producers gifted Young and her then-fiancé Nayte Olukoya a $200,000 check — literally investing more in their relationship than any previous lead’s. For fans, the reason was obvious.
A fifth-grade teacher with a killer jump shot and easygoing sense of humor, Young, 29, was a favorite on Matt James’ season. After leaving as the runner-up, Young became an obvious choice for The Bachelorette’s next lead — so much so that ABC did back-to-back seasons of The Bachelorette in 2021, airing Young’s season immediately after Katie Thurston’s. Producers even delayed filming to accommodate Young’s teaching calendar.
Although her relationship with Olukoya didn’t last (the couple announced their breakup on June 17), she doesn’t seem to have any regrets about how things went down. “I'm going to sleep just fine at night because I know how I handled it, and I’m confident in that,” she says. Still, her healing process wasn’t necessarily easy. “I was down and out for a really long time as it was going down. I sat in it. I had to deal with it.”
Now that she’s “fully healed,” Young has been pouring her attention into someone else: herself. In August, she announced she was moving from Minnesota to Los Angeles and taking a well-deserved break from teaching. “It is kind of nice to focus on myself,” she tells Elite Daily. “It's been a little bit since I've been able to do that.”
In Everything I’ve Learned About Love (So Far), celebrities share their most heartfelt and heartbreaking lessons about dating, relationships, and breakups, and offer their best advice. Here, Young shares her feelings on The Bachelorette, breakups, and the public’s opinion — and her mindset is proof that she’s still got plenty to teach her fans, no matter what her job title is.
Elite Daily: What was it like to come off the show in a public relationship and with so many people invested in your love life?
Michelle Young: It’s a mix of emotions. You are happy that it's over. You're happy that you're not filming anymore. You're happy that your relationship's not a secret and that you can openly talk about it and share it with all of your friends.
But then that brings up a lot of other issues because people will have judgments about who you chose. I was able to handle that because it's something I had gone through before [after The Bachelor], but for my partner at the time, that was a little bit difficult. It's really hard to have everybody's eyes on your relationship because people are going to want it to fail. People are going to start rumors. You have to be able to block out that noise.
ED: How did you block out that noise?
MY: That discipline came from sports. I always had a mind of my own. Somebody can say one thing, but I'm not going to let it affect me. You build that outer skin, and you know that the things worth fighting for aren't going to be easy. You just have to be able to get through that to get to the other side. With the right person, that noise pisses you off in a good way. It just kind of drives you.
ED: Would you ever consider going back on the show, either as a repeat Bachelorette or a Bachelor In Paradise contestant?
MY: My initial response was, “Hell no.” It’s not that it can't work. It's the fact that when I went through that experience, I put everything into it. My experience, with my relationship not working, came from not being able to fully know somebody. And there's no question I could have asked to prevent that. I did my homework. I asked the right questions. I had the really tough conversations, whether they were shown on camera or not. There's no time I could have spent better or differently on the show to prevent that.
I know how to push through trials and tribulations in a relationship. I know how to work through those things with a partner, and that comes with going through them for a period of time. On the show, you just don't have that time. On Paradise, you do have a little bit more of it. I think that's why there's more successful relationships. Is it something that you could go on and end in a relationship? Yes. But would I go through another engagement? Probably not.
ED: Would you ever date someone from Bachelor Nation?
MY: Knowing the fame that comes from this show, I would have to know that it’s not going to affect somebody before I got into a relationship with them. I will never write anybody off. But I will also say that when you are going in this world, it’s a really weird family. Everyone is just always in everybody's business.
I'm kind of ready to get out of The Bachelorette scene. Somebody new could come in, but there's just nobody in Bachelor Nation right now that I'm interested in.
ED: In a recent interview, you said that you were “fully healed” from your breakup. What was that healing process like for you?
MY: Damn right, I'm fully healed. My healing process was really intense. It was like 10 steps forward, 10 steps back. Once you think you have the answer, something new would drive that knife back in.
The things that were said to me in private really pushed my healing process. There was a lot that the public doesn't know, but I'm happy with how I handled it. It challenged me to learn how to find closure for myself. I had to close that door. I had to force myself to be OK with not having all the answers, because if I didn't give myself closure, I was going to continue to be hurt.
Where I struggled during that time was the disrespect I was getting from [Olukoya]. To heal, it was me really taking my own power back and knowing that I’m comfortable with the fact that I know what went down.
I don't need the entire world to know what happened. Of course there are times where I'm like, "Oh, I wish I could say this." But that doesn’t do anything.
If a person wants to walk out of your life, let them. You deserve somebody who wants to be there and fight to stay there.
ED: What’s one misconception people might have about your love life?
MY: The show portrays you in a certain way, and they definitely leaned into that teacher role. At times, it’s presented like when I'm in a relationship, I’ll teach the other person how to handle things. But if you come in with emotional intelligence, you don't need a teacher.
ED: What’s your best piece of dating advice?
MY: You have to be completely raw and authentic, because how exhausting would it be to have to put up a front? It’s really hard because everything's filtered and on social media, everything's a highlight reel. But challenge yourself to set up your non-negotiables up front, be honest with your feelings, your intentions, and your goals. Truly just be yourself, so you’re liked for who you are.
ED: What’s your best piece of breakup advice?
MY: Never fight for somebody to stay in your life that doesn't want to be there. On TV, breakups are romanticized. You're supposed to fight for that person. But if a person wants to walk out of your life, let them. You deserve somebody who wants to be there and who wants to fight to stay there.
ED: What’s one celebrity couple you admire?
MY: Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. They just have this confidence, but they're still goofy. You see them all glammed up, then you see them when they first wake up in the morning while they have their durags on. I love the way they carry themselves.
ED: What’s a fear you used to have about dating or relationships that you've overcome?
MY: The fear that someone isn’t going to like me. Frankly, cool. I don’t need to be everybody’s person. That’s totally fine. I know who I am. If you don't like me, great. That's phenomenal. You're not my person either.
ED: What’s one song that's gotten you through a breakup?
MY: “Flowers” by Lauren Spencer Smith. Check out the lyrics. Wildly, wildly accurate.
ED: What does love mean to you?
MY: Love truly does change. There's going to be times in life where the person that you picked is not your favorite person. But it's really a commitment to see the best in somebody while never lowering your standards or disrespecting yourself. To love, you have to know what you deserve.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.