Chatting with E! News' Daily Pop on May 17 about his new memoir, First Impressions: Off Screen Conversations With a Bachelor on Race, Family, and Forgiveness, the former Bachelor shared that his relationship with Kirkconnell has always been headed towards marriage.
"I think marriage is always the endgame at my stage of the game," he told hosts Justin Sylvester, Bobby Berk and Loni Love. "I'm not in the business of wasting anybody's time, and I think the good thing about our relationship is we go at our own pace. And you've seen with other couples—they force the engagement and they're not together anymore. So, I think what we got is a working recipe and we're gonna get there."
The two met on James' season 25 of The Bachelor in 2020, in which he made history as the series' first Black lead. But he was unaware of the importance of his casting for quite some time.
"Listen, I was fully consumed in quarantine. That wasn't really my focus," he said. "I thought I was going on The Bachelorette. And when I first got that call, I thought that Tyler [Cameron] and someone in the house was messing with me."
He continued, "When they offered it to me, I'm like, ‘Oh, bet,' like, ‘Who's messing with me?' And then, you know, as the process furthered, I'm like, ‘Oh, wow, okay. This is monumental.'"
James' experience on the ABC dating series is the main inspiration behind his debut book.
"There was a lot of things that I talked about that I shared on the show that never made it to everybody else's television boxes," he shared, "and I'm hoping that they can resonate with my story a little bit more once they've seen and felt everything I've gone through."
He shared that he always "talked about real s--t with the people on the show" to give them insight into what life with him post-show would be like, only some of those moments didn't make the final cut.
"When a lot of that didn't come across, it just lacked depth," he shared. "I feel like we could have capitalized on being the first Black Bachelor and having important conversations."
"Listen, Rachel Lindsay is a force," James said. "I don't think I could ever step into that light and take on everything that she's taken on, but I have had conversations with her in terms of, you know, the things that I—she prefaced her experience with mine and said, ‘Watch out for X, Y and Z,' and without that context, I think that the show could have played out completely different."
Check out the full interview in the clip above.
First Impressions: Off Screen Conversations With a Bachelor on Race, Family, and Forgiveness, is available now where books are sold.