He may be living his happily ever after with nurse Irena Srbinovska but Bachelor Locky Gilbert was brought firmly back to reality during a tense TV appearance on Friday night.
The former Survivor star, 31, was given a brutal grilling by The Project host Chris Bath over his treatment of runner-up Bella Varelis who he dumped in the season finale.
After complimenting the happy couple on looking loved up Chris wasted no time in hauling Locky over the coals for backtracking on his feelings for Bella, 25.
“What’s harder: doing a [Survivor] challenge after 20 days of little food,” Chris began, adding, “or breaking a girl’s heart by dumping her on TV hours after telling her you were falling in love with her?”
While she went in for the kill, Chris’s fellow Project panellists Tommy Little and Peter Van Onselen audibly gasped with one remarking, “Jesus Bathie!”
Chris appeared to concede that her question was rather harsh, saying, “Cruel, but I gotta know!” as a stunned Locky and Irena looked on aghast.
Locky defends himself
To his credit, Locky came back with a response quickly and calmly, saying, “It sucks, that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
“I’d do a challenge for four days straight if it means I didn’t have to break someone’s heart.
“As you saw on TV, my emotions were real and it sucked. You never want to have that feeling for someone and then have to break their heart.”
But the grilling was far from over for the winning couple, with Peter Van Onselen turning his attention to Irena and her own ‘best friend’ breakup with Bella.
“You and Bella were really close in the house, best friends as you described it... have you spoken to her since?” Peter asked.
“No, we haven’t spoken since we wrapped up filming,” a slightly flustered Irena replied.
Elsewhere in the chat, Irena confirmed that she’s planning to leave her Melbourne home to be with Locky in Perth, where he admitted he’d been “gallivanting around in paradise... running around doing whatever I want!”
Fans slam ‘cruel’ dumping
Chris wasn’t the only one to take issue with the way Locky ended things with Bella. Fans of The Bachelor took to social media immediately after Thursday night’s finale to slam Locky for his "incredibly cruel" breakup with Bella just one day after telling her he loves her.
Fans were swift in sharing their thoughts on the breakup, and they were not impressed.
"Telling both girls you’re in love with them before having to break up with one is so incredibly cruel. You’ve outdone yourself," wrote one user.
Another noted that Locky kissed Bella on the lips right before the split, writing, "you don’t kiss someone on the lips and then break up with them."
Someone else wrote, "Tell a woman you love her, then break up with her. Locky just goes down and down in my estimation, which to be fair, didn’t start too high."
"I don’t blame her in the slightest for reacting that way [to be honest]. That was a really s**t breakup, even by this shows standards," one user added.
Another said, "Imagine a guy is about to break up with you and he expects you to comfort him while he has a tantrum."
One user couldn't hold back their anger, and wrote, "THIS IS THE WORST BREAK UP EVER I MEAN I DON’T LOVE HER BUT HOW COULD HE DELIVER THAT MESSAGE IN SUCH A MANNER I AM LIVID."
"Bruh don’t tell her you love her again before you break up with her," someone else said.
Bella hits back
Bella took to Instagram on Thursday night to hit back following the brutal breakup, saying she had "trusted him whole heartedly" before the split.
“When Locky told me he loved me and couldn’t wait to make me happy for the rest of my life, I believed him and trusted him whole heartedly,” she wrote.
“We connected on so many levels right from the beginning, some you saw, but most you didn’t. Having three months outside of filming completely changed the aspect of the show, it brought normality to the connection and we grew into what felt like a real relationship.
“Looking back; I’m proud of myself. I gave it my all, I was true to myself and I wore my heart on my sleeve. Whilst it’s not my fairytale ending, the laughs and the memories will last a lifetime. I want to say thank you to my on-set Bachelor family who were with me up until the very end, thank you for making me laugh through my endless tears that night.
“I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and now was not my time, I’ll never stop being a hopeless romantic and I’m sure my happily ever after is still out there. Hopefully I don’t need to kiss too many more frogs,” she concluded.
Fans responded to the heartbroken reality star, with one user writing, "Can’t believe YOU were the one f***ing consoling HIM."
"You dodged a bullet babe! He doesn’t deserve you," another said.
Someone else said, "I’m glad you didn’t win, you’ve got such a bright future ahead of you, and you are FAR too strong for him. You held yourself just beautifully. How goods dodging a bullet."
Others suggested she should be the Bachelorette next year, "Bachelorette 2021, you deserve someone wayyyy better."
Are Locky and Irena still together?
If their appearance on The Project on Friday night is anything to go by then yes, the Bachie lovebirds are still together.
Locky also took to Instagram after the finale aired to confirm that he and Irena were still going strong.
He wrote, "I have always listened to my heart and it has lead me to this point. As hard as it was to say good bye. I was also saying hello to my future wife, baby mumma and best friend.
"I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Here is to one crazy adventure and so so many more with you babe."
Irena commented on the snap, "I love you so much baby xxx bring on forever with you."
Channel 10 also released a sweet video of the pair gushing over one another shortly after the episode aired.
Additional reporting by Marni Dixit.