Matt James Gave The Most Surprising Update About Him & Rachael Kirkconnell

by Candice Jalili

For any of you who might be confused on where they stand as of now, Matt James' update on his relationship with Rachael Kirkconnell definitely clears things up. "I've seen Rachael a handful of times," James told People on April 28. "I'm not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it."

Also, I'm sorry to anyone who was looking forward to viewing a full season of him flirting it up shirtless on the beach, but James noted he's absolutely not appearing on Bachelor in Paradise. Oh, and you can count his bestie Tyler Cameron out, as well. "There's a negative chance I'll be on Paradise," he told People. "There is a negative chance Tyler's on there as well. I think we're good on that."

Kirkconnell and James first met and fell for each other on his season of The Bachelor. She wound up winning his heart at the end of his dramatic season but they wound up splitting in February 2021 after pictures leaked of Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party. In addition to the photos, allegations of Kirkconnell's past racially insensitive behavior started surfacing online.

James and Kirkconnell discussed her past behavior and their subsequent breakup during the March 15 After the Final Rose special. During that conversation, James revealed to fans that he was going "to take a step back and allow her to put in that work." He explained to Kirkconnell, "The work and reconciliation that needs to be done is work that I can't do for you. And I know that you're capable of doing it."

Kirkconnell had already acknowledged she was committed to bettering herself in a Feb. 11 IG post apologizing for her past. "Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions," she wrote at the time. "I don't think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions."

When James was asked by People if he felt Kirkconnell was doing the work she promised to do since their reunion, he said, "That's something you could talk to her about."

Rumors the two might be on again first started on April 6 when someone told Instagram gossip account @deuxmoi that they reportedly saw James and Kirkconnell together out in New York. That said, a friend of James' reportedly told Page Six at the time that the two were apparently just "building a friendship."

Cut to April 9. That day, a woman named Grace Amerling joined Reality Steve for an Instagram Live. During the Live, Amerling claimed she and James dated before he went on the show, that they'd been in touch since the show ended, and that he had asked her to come hang out with him just two days before he hung out with Kirkconnell in New York.

At that point, the news on Kirkconnell and James wasn't looking so hot. A source reportedly told Us Weekly shortly after the Live that Kirkconnell felt “very upset” and “manipulated” after having heard about Amerling. “Rachael is very emotional right now because she was very hopeful that things were going to work out,” the source reportedly explained, adding that it “doesn’t seem like they will be getting back together.” As if things couldn't possibly get worse from there, a second source reportedly told Us Weekly on April 19 that Kirkconnell and James were on “non-speaking terms.”

Five days after that, the pair was photographed hanging out in Los Angeles. Now James is saying he's "focused" on his relationship with her and my brain officially hurts.