The incredibly heartbreaking reason why 'Bachelorette' frontrunner had to exit the show

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On The Bachelorette Monday night, Katie Thurston's final four men unexpectedly dropped to only three ahead of Hometown Dates week, when Bachelor Nation fan favorite Michael Allio surprisingly self-eliminated himself.

Michael A., a single dad to a 4-year-old son named James, stole America's hearts with his genuinely kind heart, hilarious dad jokes and, sadly, his tragic story of losing his wife to cancer several years prior. However, despite being a frontrunner in the competition, after his heartbreaking FaceTime call with his son, during which James told his father, "I know what the problem is. Maybe daddy left because he don't want to see me," Michael A. realized he had to do what's best for his family.

"We've gone through everything together. To go through losing a mother, I don't want him to ever think that he's not enough. It's a lot. I feel conflicted. I feel guilty. I feel selfish. I don't know what to do. I knew this road would be painful, and pain is something I can take. When it starts to affect my son, that's when everything changes," shared Michael A.

Soon after the call, Michael A. visited Katie in her suite to deliver her the news that he would be saying goodbye and heading home early.

"With Hometowns coming up, I feel like it's wrong for me to give you half of what I could be. And it kills me because I see so much with us," Michael A. told Katie. "You know, my decision to leave hurts you too. But I'm going home because my beautiful boy needs his dad."

For Katie, saying goodbye to Michael A. ahead of hometowns was both shocking and devastating because she legitimately saw herself walking away with him.

"Our connection is still there, and our connection is unexplored," explained Katie. "It's just hard to know the impact of him leaving right now. Michael is someone I saw myself walking away with. I knew what my life would be if I chose Michael, and that was a life I wanted."

Katie also stated, "I know his decision is the best decision for his family, but right now in this moment, it hurts, and in this moment, I am mad. I am sad. All I'm looking for is to be in love and find my person, and it's very possible that my person just left."

Meanwhile, tears were flowing on Twitter, as Bachelor Nation found themselves torn between wanting Michael A. to become the next Bachelor, and not wanting him to miss any more time with his son.

But everything happens for a reason and, ultimately, during Monday night's Men Tell All, Katie had no regrets. After learning that Michael A. said he'd be open to a second chance with Katie, The Bachelorette shared, "I have nothing but love and respect for Michael but, ultimately, you know, I could not dwell on the past. I had to continue to move forward, and my ending is ultimately how everything was supposed to happen. You know, I'm a big believer in everything happens for a reason, and that's something I still believe in to this day."

So it seems Katie's Bachelorette journey may have still ended in an engagement, but we'll just have to wait to find out.

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Watch Katie Thurston breaking up the bromance that 'Bachelorette' fans were loving:

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