Zach Shallcross calls his time on The Bachelor “the most emotional season” the show has ever had

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In recent years, every new season has appeared in the Bachelor education franchise has promised to be the most dramatic ever. But newly bachelor Zach Shallcross says he will deviate from that.

“It may not be the most dramatic season, but it is the most emotional season they’ve ever had,” Shallcross, 26, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “But that’s not to say this season won’t have drama. There’s no shortage of drama.”

The technical director admits “there were a few instances where I think everyone could have handled a little better”, but overall says: “I handled everything the way it felt right. I followed what was right for my heart and my gut .”

Zach Shallcross Single

Ricky Middlesworth/UKTN

He also claims that viewers will see a new side of him. “Fans will see my full personality because I wear it on my sleeve,” says Shallcross. “With last season that was not necessarily the case. I think I will surprise some people with who I am.”

From the season of Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey The Bacheloretteto which Recchia, 26, shockingly dumped him after their night at the Fantasy Suite, Shallcross learned to prioritize communication about his season.

“I think the biggest takeaway and something I’ve been trying to stick with this season is really encouraging all women to be open about how they feel about everything,” he says. “Having that constant line of communication, always being open and vulnerable so there’s no chance of a blind side.”

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Zach Shallcross Single

Zach Shallcross Single

Craig Sjodin/UKTN

On the first night, Shallcross looked for the women to communicate their personalities in their limo entrances.

“What I’ve been looking for is how can I get a very brief glimpse of who you are in a very short window?” says the reality star. “Because it’s 30 women, it’s the longest night there is and there’s not a lot of time. There were some memorable entrances. There may or may not have been some farm animals.”

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Because he had so little time to get to know 30 women on night 1, intended for Shallcross, “it was kind of a work in progress to figure out” who he wanted his first impression of a rose to be.

“That does count,” Shallcross says of the decision. “It came down to a combination of a few things. But the most important thing was if I could have that feeling of comfort and enjoy my time with that person on a very unique evening. That’s how I came to that decision.”

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Being the one handing out the roses this time felt “surreal,” admits Shallcross. “It was this feeling of excitement and kind of a disbelief that I’m here, but also a little sense of sadness because tonight I’m going to send some women home. That’s the hardest part.”

Zach Shallcross Single

Zach Shallcross Single

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When it came to forging new connections, Shallcross said he wanted it to be a “natural progression.”

“I went into this whole thing because I wanted to find my best friend, find my future, and you can’t force that,” he continues. “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. If you let your heart sort it out, the right thing will happen. I truly believe that.”

Shallcross says he had to keep an open mind throughout the process, as what he thought he wanted in a woman changed “almost daily.”

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“That was basically the advice Sean Lowe gave me: you might have this one idea of ​​who you’re going to end up with or this is how things should go and [you] learn quickly that that’s not necessarily the way life goes,” Shallcross says of the former protagonist. “This season is a real testament to that.”

ZACH SHALLCROSS

ZACH SHALLCROSS

Craig Sjodin/UKTN

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He did, however, have an idea of ​​when and how he wanted to use the “L” word.

“Saying ‘I love you’ has a different weight,” says Shallcross. “For me there is only one true love, the one you want to spend your life with. You can have feelings of love for several people, but for me there can only be one true love in the end.”

Of course, Shallcross can’t reveal exactly where his journey led, but he teases, “It’s been better than I could have ever expected, and I’m just so happy about it.”

For more information on Zach Shallcross, download the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now, or subscribe here.

The Bachelor Season 27 premieres Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on UKTN.

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