Brooks Forester leaves 'Bachelorette' Desiree Hartsock

Brooks Forester was the frontrunner until he recused

Brooks Forester was the frontrunner until he recused himself from ABC's "The Bachelorette." (Credit: ABC)

One of the three finalists on ABC's "The Bachelorette" voluntarily left the show on Monday's episode, saying he wasn't in love with star Desiree Hartsock.

In an unprecedented move for a finalist on the dating competition, which airs its ninth-season finale Monday, a tearful Brooks Forester told Hartsock that despite his wishing otherwise, he did not have strong enough feelings for her.

"I really want to be madly in love with you," said Forester, a sales rep for a Utah marketing company, as Hartsock began to cry. When she asked, "Why now?" he responded, "Because I didn't know. I hadn't known before this. I really always felt like I needed more time, because [there are] all these things I love about you." Saying he needed "to ask myself, 'Do I see this lasting?' " he concluded regretfully, "I don't feel it."

Hartsock -- who had previously told the camera, "If Brooks got down on one knee and proposed to me, I would definitely say yes" -- responded, "I love you. I do. You're the only one I could see [myself] with."

On her People magazine blog Tuesday, Hartsock wrote, "He never expressed those concerns with me until it was too late. I was completely blindsided and heartbroken by his exit." However, she added, "I am relieved now that he was honest about his feelings and that he was brave enough to address them before taking the relationship further."

"I was just disappointed that it had gotten this far because that had never happened before," host Chris Harrison told ABC News Tuesday. "We've had people leave, but not where she's literally ready to accept a proposal, and so it was devastating."

The two remaining bachelors are Chris Siegfried, a Seattle mortgage broker, and Drew Kenney, who works in "customer retention and reputation management" for a Phoenix-based auto-dealership marketing company.

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