Ben Higgins is picking up the pieces after his engagement to Lauren Bushnell didn't work out.
For starters, the Colorado-native is gearing up to release a podcast with fellow Bachelor Nation star Ashley Iaconetti, and E! News has an exclusive look at the duo's first episode. Ben addresses the surprise split, speaking for one of the first times about how he's coping with life as a bachelor once more.
"Just to be as politically correct as possible and to also be as truthful as possible, Lauren will always be one of my best friends," Ben shared. "It's [a relationship] where I learned a lot about myself; I think she learned a lot about herself. Obviously, she knows me better than anybody else that has gone through this experience, and really probably anybody else in the world. It's tough."
Higgins described the heartache as "very fresh," because in his words, "It's hard to say goodbye to somebody that you spent so much time with and it's hard to say goodbye to somebody that you really did believe was the one for you."
And while sources recently shared with E! News that Ben and Lauren's breakup was almost a no-brainer, he too agrees that the negative warning signs were there.
"I think mutually Lauren and I saw that life was getting more difficult," Higgins, 29, added. "I would say the joy that we felt toward our relationship at the beginning was—for some reason—slipping away, and we were both working very hard to bring that joy back. And it just never seemed to get there. So it was a long time coming but it wasn't necessarily like we dragged it out."
He revealed there was "no real saving or redemption to be done" in the final days of their relationship, continuing, "It was for the best."
As for moving forward, Ben said he's hopeful for both of their futures, despite not sharing one together.
"Lauren is now focusing on herself and her brand, and is not currently pursuing the dating scene," the source explains.
Higgins also said it "seems odd" to think about entering a new relationship, adding, "I am a better man today because of Lauren and because of our relationship than I was two years ago."
Consider our hearts melted.
Check out their new podcast, Ben and Ashley: "Almost Famous" when it launches Tuesday, May 23 on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you listen to podcasts.