Warning: This post contains spoilers from Monday's episode of The Bachelor.
The Bachelor's "Sex Week," as Zach Shallcross preferred to call it, has finally arrived.
But Zach, 26, really wanted it to be "No Sex Week." Before meeting finalists Ariel, Gabi and Kaity for Fantasy Suite dates in Thailand, Zach told host Jesse Palmer he wanted "no sex of any kind" to be part of the experience.
Zach credited former Bachelor and mentor Sean Lowe with helping him reach that decision.
"He took a very similar approach," Zach told Jesse, 44. "I mean, he just said, 'Really do what is comfortable for you and what you think is right.' This is the only thing that feels right and comfortable for me. And [sex] can really muddy the situation."
Jesse wondered if Zach felt an attraction to the three remaining women, and the sales account executive confirmed he did. "It's going to be really damn hard," Zach acknowledged.
Zach didn't think that being physical with three different women would help start a future with one of them on the right note. "It's not how I imagine a healthy engagement should start," he said.
He said in an on-camera interview that abstaining from sex felt like "the right thing" to do. "There's a lot of pent-up energy," he said, "but I'm up for the challenge."
ARIEL'S FANTASY SUITE
First, Zach met up with Ariel, 28, to go to a night market. "Let's go eat some bugs!" he declared.
After they tried some local Thai dishes, they sat down to chat.
"I definitely am falling for you, definitely am falling in love with you," Ariel told Zach.
"Hearing you say that, that's very special," he replied. "It means so much because I feel that."
However, Zach explained that he didn't want to use the L-word just yet. "There's only one person to love at the end of this, but I want you to know at this point — and I want to make it abundantly clear — I can absolutely see a future with you," he said.
They received the invite to the Fantasy Suite and Zach informed Ariel he had something to talk to her about.
"This week, in particular, sex being off the table for me," he said. "It's inevitable, like, I feel a physical connection with you. That's there, that's no joke. But I think like, loving one person at the end of this and sharing that intimate moment should be saved for that moment of engagement."
Ariel said she didn't like to "plan anything in advance" — and that his plan sounded destined to fail.
"I feel like if you set a standard before like, 'I'm definitely not going to sleep with you,' you probably will," she told Zach.
The marketing executive admitted in an on-camera interview that she felt "a little disappointed" by Zach's no sex decree. "I think it's important to keep it sexy, so I definitely want to have those physical moments as well," she said.
Still, Ariel and Zach proceeded to the Fantasy Suite and spent the night together. "Today feels like lightyears ahead of where we were before," Ariel told the cameras the next morning.
Zach thought he made the right decision by abstaining from sex with Ariel. "I know that in the end, it will be all worth it," he said.
GABI'S FANTASY SUITE
For his Fantasy Suite date with Gabi, 25, Zach took her on a boat that looked like a pirate ship before they hung out on the beach. There, Gabi expressed her concern at being the second one to go on the date that week.
"Sometimes when you feel so strongly about someone and you're so excited, you want to find something that's not right," she said. "And so my mind just runs to 'you're not good enough' and 'you're second.'"
Zach assured Gabi he didn't intend the order of the dates to be a "mind game."
Still, Gabi felt like she needed to step away and speak with a producer. "I feel very stupid and foolish," she cried.
Zach went to find Gabi and tried to patch things up.
"He put me right back where I needed to be, which is excited and hopeful for the future," the Vermont native told the cameras.
During the evening portion of their date, Gabi explained how a previous relationship caused her to feel the way she did earlier.
"I was cheated on, and although I knew it was happening, I chose to look the other way," she said. "And I didn't know my value and what I was worthy of in a relationship."
"I always want you to know that you do deserve to be No. 1," Zach assured.
Gabi appreciated hearing that. "I am falling in love with you," she told Zach.
Before they could head to the Fantasy Suite, Zach told Gabi about his no sex policy for the week.
"Obviously, sex is important in a relationship, and you know, you want that side of it as well," she responded. "Did I think I was going to get engaged to somebody that I haven't had sex with? Probably not."
They proceeded to spend the night together anyway, and in the Fantasy Suite, Zach told Gabi about his childhood nickname. "Growing up my nickname was Mowgli," Zach revealed, referring to the Jungle Book character.
He explained that the nickname came about because, as a kid, he would "walk around in my white tighties and just run around the house."
The next morning, Gabi told the cameras that that kind of foreplay resulted in a "great cuddle sesh." But Zach informed Jesse that more actually happened.
"We both agreed and wanted to have sex together and it was very special," Zach said. "It was important, and it was what we both wanted and needed for the relationship. And I feel terrible because I've just gone against my word."
Jesse tried to ease Zach's guilt. "It came from a good place," he said. "To some of these women, intimacy might be a really important thing before knowing they can say 'yes.'"
While Zach described that what he and Gabi did was "an act of love, not lust," he still felt obligated to tell the other women.
Zach informed Gabi he planned to come clean to everyone. "You made me feel so special and like, I wouldn't be able to go about this week just having secrets and telling someone one thing and doing another," he said.
"I didn't realize you were so bothered," Gabi responded.
To the cameras, she expressed even more frustration. "Everything that's meant to be private and between us is not any longer," she said. "I do feel like my trust was broken."
Zach wanted to assure Gabi that he had no regrets about what took place between them.
"I'm falling in love with you," he told Gabi. "You're someone what would be awesome to go through life with."
Gabi replied, "Thank you for sharing that and coming to talk to me."
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KAITY'S FANTASY SUITE
After going kayaking with Kaity, 27, Zach decided to inform her about having sex with Gabi.
First, Zach laid out his "parameter" to not have "sex and physical intimacy be involved" in the week, but said "a lot has changed and evolved."
"I have been intimate this week," Zach told Kaity. "It was a decision between us that made sense to further the relationship."
Kaity did not want to hear that. "I knew going into this like, that is something that could potentially happen and it hurt obviously to think about it," she said.
The ER nurse cried and wondered how she could move forward with a Fantasy Suite date under these circumstances. "That's your relationship with the other women. Keep it there," Kaity said to Zach.
"I needed to tell you, at least for me," Zach said.
After taking some time apart, Kaity and Zach continued with the overnight date. "This is something I feel like we can get through," she said.
Zach worried to Jesse that he "f---ed up for good" with the way he handled Fantasy Suites. He admitted he regretted trying to control what happened.
"That was the biggest mistake I could've done," Zach told the three remaining women at the rose ceremony. "This week, I, at times, felt like a failure. I've caused pain, I've made mistakes and I'm so sorry for that."
He proceeded to give roses to Kaity and Gabi, sending home Ariel.
"I'm blessed to know you and how you opened up your heart to me," Zach said to Ariel before she left.
"I couldn't have done this with anyone else," Ariel said.
Despite receiving a rose, Gabi felt like she had "a big A on my chest."
"It's a very uncomfortable feeling," Gabi said in an on-camera interview. "And he's like, only making eye contact with Kaity."
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The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.