Following the season 21 Bachelor finale on Monday night, during which 36-year-old Viall got down on one knee and proposed to 29-year-old Grimaldi, the couple made their first public appearance on the After the Final Rose special since getting engaged.
But while sitting with host Chris Harrison, many members of Bachelor Nation — including past Bachelor stars Sean Lowe and Catherine Guidici Lowe and The Bachelorette‘s Trista Sutter — took to social media to voice their skepticism about the couple’s true feelings for one another, which was a result of Viall and Grimaldi’s seemingly awkward interaction.
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Speaking with PEOPLE after their first televised interview as a couple, the duo admitted that they are ready to live life together without the cameras rolling.
“I was excited for it to come to an end, but now I am sad,” Grimaldi told PEOPLE. “I mean, I’m excited for us to start our real life together.”
“She’s very much looking forward for this to be over,” Viall chimed in, and admitted, “It was very difficult for us as a couple at the end.”
Although the pair are engaged, they recognize that they “have a long way to go” and “are getting to know each other” even more so before they can tie the knot.
“I don’t think any relationship is perfect,” said Grimaldi.
Even though Viall has starred on four rounds of a love-focused ABC reality series, he admitted that he doesn’t have it all figured out — and welcomes any advice from former Bachelor Nation contestants that would be beneficial to himself and his bride-to-be.
“I hope we came across as in love and passionate tonight. The reality is — we joke about it, but it’s true — we don’t know what it’s like to go to the movies together, we don’t know what it’s like to spend time together in the real world. Our relationship has been based off of stressful situations,” said Viall.
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Added Grimaldi: “I feel like it’s been on standstill for a little bit. I’m ready to move forward.”
Despite the negative commentary from critics who question Grimaldi and Viall’s love for one another, the couple are opting to focus on the positive and strengthen their relationship moving forward.
“You can never make people happy. At the end of the day, we are focusing on our relationship,” said Grimaldi. “It’s easy to focus on the negative, which sometimes I do, and Nick tries to get me out of it. But it’s the world that we’re living in.”