The tennis pro, whose season of 'The Bachelor' premieres Monday, tells PEOPLE "the rose ceremonies are the hardest part" of being the dating show's lead
While the tennis pro, 28, looked forward to finding love, he tells PEOPLE he didn’t enjoy being the one making the cuts this time around.
“It sucks,” Graziadei admits of having to choose who won't receive a rose. “It's not fun to be that guy. The rose ceremonies are the hardest part, especially on night 1, because you don't even get the chance to talk to everyone. It's not a fun position to be in. There's no way someone enjoys that part.”
Graziadei says he tried “to be as compassionate as possible and go with my gut.”
Coming off of 28-year-old Lawson’s season, in which Graziadei was dumped after the Bachelorette accepted accept Dotun Olubeko’s proposal, the Hawaii resident says he focused on “getting back to feeling like myself.”
“It is a tough time, but I have so much love and respect for her and Dotun that it was helpful to watch their journey to see how beautiful their love was,” Graziadei says. “But it was also really helpful to go back to Hawaii for a few months before filming started and just get back to being me. It was a really important time in my life. I focused on getting ready to feel like I can take that step again to meet someone.”
Graziadei took some valuable lessons away from his time on The Bachelorette.
“One of the things I learned was [that] opening up more is a great thing,” he says. “I was able to be vulnerable. I was able to share things that I maybe held for a while, and I think that that was what Charity gave me. She created that space and I try to do the same thing on my season. As much as possible, I try to make the women feel comfortable, feel like I was there to listen if they're willing to share, just try to create that space to let them tell their own stories.”
Because of that approach, Graziadei thinks “there's going to be a lot of beautiful stories that people will resonate with” on his season.
Graziadei tried to use those listening skills to help navigate the drama when it inevitably unfolded.
“When you put that many women in a household and you put them in the setting, it's not easy,” the West Chester University grad says. “I figured that out pretty early on, that no matter how much I tried to navigate it, it's not going to be perfect. I always tried to listen, be understanding, talk to the women, make sure they know their feelings are valid. But there's no correct way to handle it. And I'm sure the people have opinions throughout the season.”
As for what Graziadei hoped to find in a partner, “I want someone that's kind, understanding, compassionate, can think of others before they think of themselves,” he shares. “I obviously want to be drawn to them with that beauty, but it comes in so many different ways.”
Graziadei can’t say whether or not he found that perfect match on The Bachelor, but he teases a happy ending.
“I can just tell you that the ending is going to be worth tuning into,” he says. “And I'm happy right now.”
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The Bachelor season 28 premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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