TV & Movies
Clayton & Susie Broke Up, Citing “A Significant Amount Of Pain” After The Bachelor
A look back at their complete relationship timeline.
Clayton Echards’ journey to find love on The Bachelor was far from smooth sailing — and as it turns out, his post-show relationship also faced several challenges. To recap: ahead of his two-part finale, the Season 26 lead confessed to contestant Susie Evans that he fell in love and was intimate with both Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia. But when Susie said a little too late that physical intimacy with the other women was a dealbreaker, the Bachelor begged the 28-year-old videographer to stay and promised that he loved her “the most.”
An explosive argument followed — and Susie ultimately refused Clayton’s proposal, even after she gave him a second chance to make things right. However, Susie revealed at the After the Final Rose special that she and Clayton “took time apart” and eventually began dating again after filming wrapped. “That’s my boyfriend!” she shouted.
Though they’ve been dating since then, Clayton and Susie broke up by the following September. “With incredibly heavy hearts, we wanted to share that we have decided to go our separate ways,” Susie wrote in a Sept. 23 Instagram post. “Anyone who has ever loved, knows this was a painful decision to make and not one taken lightly.”
Below, revisit Clayton and Susie’s relationship timeline — from first meeting on The Bachelor to their recent split.
The First Night
Although Clayton gave his first impression rose to Teddi Wright, Susie also caught his attention with her hand buzzer prank. “Susie was very fun coming out of the limo,” he said on Us Weekly’s “Here For the Right Reasons” podcast. “I like somebody that has a sense of humor. ... I like when I see someone that’s able to do that and then be confident about it. ‘Cause you kinda think, like, coming out that limo, cameras are all around you and you can still maintain that poise, that confidence — that says a lot about somebody. I was very impressed by her.”
The First Date
Susie may not have gotten Clayton’s first impression rose, but she did get the first one-on-one date of the season. She and Clayton took a helicopter ride around Los Angeles (and over the mansion to make the other women jealous) before landing on a massive yacht in the middle of the ocean. “I love the adventurous side of you,” Clayton said. “I love the confidence I’m seeing. I am seeing who you are, and I really do like what I’m seeing.” At the end of the day, Clayton said that he “couldn’t have asked for this date to go better.”
The Croatia Confession
When Sarah Hamrick was invited on a second one-on-one date in Croatia, Susie realized that she needed to step up her game. “I’m feeling insecure about losing him,” she said. “I have to do something at least just to tell him how I feel.” Soon afterward, Clayton received an anonymous note requesting his presence at the clock tower. It was there that Susie explained how hard it’s been watching Clayton “make connections” with the other women. She said she wanted to prove to Clayton that she was all in. “I do feel as though I’m falling in love with you,” she confessed. Clayton was pleasantly surprised. “This might be the happiest I’ve been since I’ve been on this journey,” he said. “Tonight, she told me everything I needed to hear.”
The Pretty Woman Date
“If ever there was a moment to celebrate you for being the individual that you are, that’s what today is about,” Clayton told Susie on their second one-on-one date. The former pageant queen spent the day trying on ballgowns in Vienna, Austria, which she said brought the couple “so much closer.” “He made a point to tell me what he sees in me and that is why I think it meant so much,” she explained.
The Hometown Date
After jujutsu practice and a picnic on the Virginia Beach pier, Susie brought Clayton home to meet her family. He got her dad’s stamp of approval, but her mom was a harder sell. “Do you think you love Susie?” she asked. He responded, “So… I will say that I have very, very strong feelings for Susie, and to fall in love to me is, um, is very sacred, and I know that I will get there. There’s a part of me that, um, is trying to make sense of it in my head with, to be honest with you, with other women around… I don’t want to fall in love with, like, four people, that doesn’t make sense.”
The Fantasy Suite Date
“I can see myself getting engaged to this man, I can see myself having a family with him,” Susie said in a confessional that aired during Rachel’s overnight date. “But I’m hoping that he takes, like, physical intimacy as seriously as I do… If I find out that he’s falling in love with other women or that he has become physically intimate with another woman, that would be devastating.”
Susie voiced her concerns again during Gabby’s date. “I’m just spiraling emotionally, thinking through the worst-case scenario,” she said. “Whether it’s Clayton falling in love, or him being physically intimate with Gabby… I just hope that Clayton’s on the same page.” Reader, they were not on the same page.
When it came time for Clayton and Susie’s date, she got all of the answers she needed. After Clayton revealed that he was in love with her, she asked if he professed his love or slept with any of the other women. “To answer your question, yes, I have slept with someone else here,” he said. “And yes, I’ve expressed feelings towards someone else of falling in love.”
In an attempt to save their relationship, Clayton told Susie that he was in love with her “the most” and that it was never his intention to fall in love with multiple women. “It makes me more sad for all of it,” she responded before revealing that she didn’t know how strongly Clayton felt about her. “I don’t think I can get past those things. I just don’t think I can.”
Although many fans agreed that Susie could have vocalized her expectations earlier, the way Clayton responded left the internet in a collective uproar. “If you felt this strongly about this, why wouldn’t you have told me early on?” he asked. “You don’t tell me until now, and it’s after the fact?” Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of their explosive conversation.
“I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore,” Clayton said after accusing Susie of invalidating their relationship. “You just dropped a bombshell on me, and I don’t agree with it at all how you went about it. I think it’s BS… I’m sorry that I even raised my voice. It’s because I cared so much, I really did love you… Anything you say to me at this point doesn’t matter to me anymore, so I’m going to walk you out.”
After Susie’s emotional exit aired on TV, Clayton appeared on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s “Off The Vine” podcast to discuss what went down. “All three of the women said, ‘I want you to explore the other relationships fully,’ almost verbatim,” he said. “I looked at it like if these women stick around and watch me kiss other women in front of them — which would never be acceptable in the real world — then these real-world boundaries are kind of set aside and there’s a new playing field in this environment.”
Clayton also responded to the accusations of gaslighting that popped up on social media. “I don’t agree that I was gaslighting because I looked that up, and it said gaslighting, the definition is to try and convince someone of a different reality than what is actually the true reality of the situation,” he told the former Bachelorette, adding that he “did not manipulate” Susie.
“I allowed my emotions to attack her and I wish I wouldn’t have done that,” he continued. “I was very upset. And I let my emotions get the best of me. I’m 1,000% in the wrong for that. And I really wish I would never have acted that way toward her. But I did not gaslight or manipulate her and that is 1,000% a fact.”
In a March 9 interview on Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti’s “Almost Famous” podcast, Clayton said that he was “embarrassed” for how he acted but truly believed that something shady was going on. “I started having these really dangerous thoughts of like, ‘What if Susie right now is just trying to get out of this? What if she’s just saying whatever she needs to say to leave me so that she could be the next Bachelorette?’” Clayton said.
He explained that this fear stemmed from being played by some of the other women on his season, including Sarah, who he sent home after finding out that she was lying to the other women about their relationship with the assumed goal of getting them to leave. “At that point, I started looking at her as if she was playing me the entire time,” Clayton said. “And that’s why I said, ‘I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore.’ Because in that moment I really believed at that point that she was just feeding me whatever she needed to so that she could be the next Bachelorette.”
The reality star clarified that he no longer believes that was Susie’s intention, but did during their argument. “I didn’t believe that the next day, but I believed it in that moment,” he said. “And because of that, I allowed my emotions to take over and nothing that she said was going to get through to me at that point because I convinced myself that you weren’t here for me, you never were.”
The two-part finale kicked off on Monday, March 14, and viewers watched as Clayton confessed to Gabby and Rachel that he was in love and slept with both of them. He also revealed that he was still in love with Susie, even though she had already left. “He told me he was falling in love with me, and he told Rachel?” Gabby cried to a producer. “That’s not fair!” Rachel was equally distraught.
After taking time to process the situation, Gabby questioned how Clayton would choose between her and Rachel if he was in love with both of them. “Ultimately, like, whoever I pick, I love the most,” he explained. His response infuriated fans on Twitter, but ultimately, both women chose to stick around. However, during the March 15 episode, it became clear that Clayton’s heart was with one woman and one woman only.
Fortunately, Susie never left Iceland. And after host Jesse Palmer told her that Clayton wanted to see her again, she showed up at his family’s place ready to chat. “You are a good human, I genuinely believe that,” she said. “But I was really shocked by how everything ended. The way you treated me, the way you turned, that’s when my mentality on you changed.”
Susie went on to call their split “humiliating.” “I felt like a stray dog that had come into your home and you were like shooing me out,” she said. “If you just have love for me as a person, how can you treat me like this?” Clayton apologized and said that his behavior was “way out of character.” “I know the love’s there,” he said. “I know it could be a love that will last a lifetime … Is there any way you can give me a second chance? I love you and I don’t want to lose you.”
While Susie took some time to think, Clayton broke up with Gabby and Rachel in one fell swoop. “I realize that I’ve caused so much pain, and I wish that I could take it all back,” he told them both. “I realize it’s not feasibly possible for me to be in love with three women like I said I was… Everyone deserves to have someone give them 100% of their heart, and unfortunately, I just can’t be that person for either of you, because my heart’s no longer here. It’s with Susie.”
Gabby was understandably livid and Rachel was completely heartbroken, but Clayton made his decision. “If you give me the chance, I will fight for your love, day in and day out,” he wrote in a note to Susie. “Because without you, I am nothing … If you’d be willing to meet me, I’d be patiently waiting for you in the countryside.” When she arrived, he told her that she was the only one still on the show. “It’s just you and me here because I don’t want anything else.”
Clayton then presented Susie with an engagement ring box. “I am this serious about it,” he continued. “To grow, have a family, to go through all the stages of life together — if you just give me the chance.” But Susie wasn’t convinced. “You are this incredible person,” she said. “I still believe it … And there’s no doubt about our connection. The love that I have for you in my heart, it’s so real. And I know that you have it, too. But you have an unconditional love of somebody you want to spend a lifetime with — that’s not where I’m at.”
Susie ultimately decided to leave Iceland alone, and when Clayton asked if there was any hope to someday rekindle their romance, she made herself clear. “I feel like it’s over,” she said. However, during the live portion of the show, the duo revealed that they’ve since gotten back together. Apparently, Susie slid into Clayton’s DMs after the show wrapped and the pair was able to work out their issues. “I didn't think it was going to happen,” Clayton said. “Especially after the way that we ended things.” Us, too.
Clayton & Susie’s Future Plans
After a whirlwind several months, the new couple is very excited for the future. “I’m moving right in with her,” Clayton revealed during the live segment of the finale. “I’m going to Virginia in the next couple days. I left my job, I sold my condo — all to give us a fair shot. We know it requires effort, like any other relationship.” He also gushed over his girlfriend in a lengthy, post-Bachelor reflection post on Instagram.
“Follow your heart… and it’ll take you exactly where you need to be,” he wrote alongside a photo of him and Susie from the finale. “Can’t believe what all has transpired these last 6 months. There’s so much I have learned and am thankful to have experienced. I made plenty of mistakes, but I have taken the time to self-reflect and grow from each and every one.” He added that while he knows there are challenges ahead, he’s truly found happiness.
“As it stands today, I’m happy,” he wrote. “Happy because I’ve been tested beyond my limits and am better for it. Happy because I’ve seen and experienced things I never would have, had I not taken this opportunity. But most importantly, happy because I met the most incredible woman that each and every day makes me realize how truly lucky I am to stand by her side.”
Susie told Nick Viall that she and Clayton were going to “talk realistically about” their relationship, and even planned regular “pulse checks” to see how things were going. One such check was scheduled for September, when their lease ended.
Sadly, it looks like that final check ended in the decision to part ways. In a post penned by Susie posted to both her and Clayton’s accounts, the former Bachelor contestant opened up about their breakup, reminding fans that “social media is definitely a highlight reel ... [and] although this last year together has brought us so much joy and so many laughs, there has also been a significant amount of pain.”
Susie added that the couple “were not prepared for the external forces that hindered our ability to not only heal as individuals but also as a couple,” and are now focused on working on themselves as individuals.
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