EXCLUSIVE: Arie Luyendyk Jr's ex-girlfriend says she was 'blindsided' by 'Bachelor' casting & their breakup

Even Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s ex-girlfriend, Sydney Stempfley, was "blindsided" by his Bachelor announcement.

The 26-year-old receptionist exclusively opened up to ET’s Katie Krause about her more than one-year relationship with 35-year-old Luyendyk Jr., their emotional breakup and the shocking casting news.

Stempfley tells ET that she first met Luyendyk Jr., a race car driver and real estate agent who currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, through Instagram.

"We started talking in January 2016, just through direct message. We kind of talked off and on just through Instagram, but I landed a job in Scottsdale after graduating [Miami University in Ohio]," she explains. "I flew out to search for apartments, so I messaged Arie and I told him that I would be in the area and he asked me out on our first date."

"We hit it off right away and started dating as soon as I moved here," she adds. "To my knowledge, the relationship was monogamous."

And this babe

A post shared by Sydney Stempfley (@sydneystempfley) on

The blond beauty tells ET she and Luyendyk Jr. went on their first date in July 2016, and recently celebrated their one-year anniversary by going back to the restaurant where they first met: Chelsea's Kitchen.

She felt their relationship was serious and would like to think he did too. When ET asked Stempfley if any cheating was involved, she said, "I mean, I would hope not."

See photos of Arie Luyendyk Jr.:

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New star of 'The Bachelor' Arie Luyendyk Jr.
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New star of 'The Bachelor' Arie Luyendyk Jr.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24: Arie Luyendyk Jr. attends the 2015 Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/WireImage)
Arie Luyendyk, Jr. attends X Games Austin's 101X's X Games Austin Kick-Off Bash at The Belmont on June 4, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro/Corbis via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 28: Speed Energy Stadium Super Truck Series driver and The Bachelorette TV Show contestant Arie Luyendyk Jr attends Grand Prix Street Fest at Campus Martius Park on May 28, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Paul Warner/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 26: Arie Luyendyk, Jr. attends the 2013 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: Arie Luyendyk, Jr. attends KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2012 at Nokia Theatre LA Live on December 3, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 22: TV personality Arie Luyendyk Jr. attends the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival pool party at the Wet Republic pool at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino on September 22, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 22: TV personality Arie Luyendyk Jr. attends the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival pool party at the Wet Republic pool at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino on September 22, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 21: Television personality Arie Luyendyk Jr. poses in the press room at the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena September 21, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steven Lawton/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - AUGUST 10: Arie Luyendyk and Jr. arrives at the 12th Annual Harold Pump Foundation Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on August 10, 2012 in Century City, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - AUGUST 10: TV personality Arie Luyendyk, Jr attends the 12th Annual Harold Pump Foundation Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on August 10, 2012 in Century City, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/WireImage)
INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 29: Arie Luyendyk, Kim Kardashian, Arie Luyendyk Jr and Kris Jenner visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/WireImage)
FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 3: IndyCar driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. during the annual Indycar Series pre-season 'Test in the West' on February 3, 2003 at the California Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
THE BACHELORETTE - 'The Bachelorette: After the Final Rose' - Emotions ran high as Emily sat down with Chris Harrison, live, to talk about her final two bachelors. She took viewers back to those final days in exotic Cura�o when she was conflicted about being in love with two men. Emily discussed her relationships with Arie and Jef and the heart-wrenching decision that changed all of their lives forever. Both men returned to share the bombshell outcome of the series. It was the emotional ending to Emily's heartfelt journey to find true love, live, on 'The Bachelorette: After the Final Rose,' SUNDAY, JULY 22 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET). (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images) EMILY MAYNARD, ARIE LUYENDYK
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"I’m not assuming anything, I just... that’s all I know, is that at least on my end, yes, the relationship was monogamous," she explains. "We always had a great time, tons of fun. We made each other laugh and had just really a great relationship so I can’t complain there… [we] had great memories."

My actual ride or die

A post shared by Sydney Stempfley (@sydneystempfley) on



MORE: Does Arie Luyendyk Jr. Deserve to Be 'The Bachelor'? Breaking Down the Choice No One Saw Coming

Stempfley explains that she met Luyendyk Jr.'s dad the second day that they hung out and he had met her family when they were in town visiting. The former couple also introduced each other to their friends as boyfriend and girlfriend. She says they even spent holidays together.

“I attended all of his family holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas," she claims, adding that just within this year, she traveled with the reality star to three of his out-of-state races.

“My family was head over heels about him," she shares. "They thought he was very charming and very sweet and they really liked him. [Arie and I] traveled together and I went to his races to support him. And he also actually lived with me for a few months while he rented out his house back at the beginning of the year."

"He typically rented it out during race season, so he was kind of gone a lot," she adds. "But when he was in town he stayed with me and he asked [if he could]."

Flash forward to July 31, 2017, when everything seemingly changed overnight. A source previously told ET that the couple broke up just two days before Luyendyk Jr.'s Bachelor announcement, but Stempfley wanted to make clear that's not the case -- they had actually broken up weeks before.

Go watch my boo @ariejr kick some ass today on stadiumsupertrucks.com at 5pm pacific

A post shared by Sydney Stempfley (@sydneystempfley) on

"The night before the breakup, we hung a light fixture together, made beef stew and I slept over. Everything was normal! The next day, we had plans after I got off work. It was just a regular day, so it definitely caught me by surprise. It was over the phone originally, just out of the heat of an argument, just a small argument," she claims. "But then I went over to his place and we discussed it further and that’s kind of when it happened [for good] -- it was in person."

"It was very emotional," she adds. "You know, you’re trying to get answers and you can’t. I couldn't really get a definite answer … I've never seen him cry, ever. I could tell that he was emotional, but there wasn’t tears on his end."

Stempfley claims the pair’s last romantic night out together was their one-year anniversary dinner on July 19, 2017, less than a month before she picked up her belongings, like kitchen appliances, hair brushes, and bathroom essentials, from his house.

34 PHOTOS
'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette': Length of every winner's relationship
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'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette': Length of every winner's relationship

"The Bachelor" (Season 1): Alex Michel didn't propose to Amanda Marsh when he chose her over Trista Rehn back in 2002, and they broke up after several months of dating.

(Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 2): Aaron Buerge and Helene Eksterowicz broke off their engagement after just a couple of weeks, continuing the franchise's early struggle to result on a long-lasting relationship. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 1): Trista Rehn (now Trista Sutter) and Ryan Sutter are the ultimate Bachelor Nation success story. After getting married on national TV in 2003, the couple welcomed two children together and are still married 14 years later!

(Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 3): Andrew Firestone proposed to Jen Schefft at the end of his season, but the couple broke up a few months later. They reportedly remained friends.

(Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)

"The Bachelor (Season 4): Bob Guiney didn't propose to Estella Gardinier at the end of his season, but he did give her a promise ring that she happily accepted. Clearly, the promise didn't last long, as they broke up a few weeks after the season aired.

(Photo by Larry Busacca/WireImage)

"The Bachelor" (Season 5): Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin broke up after several weeks of dating. They never got engaged. (Photo by Michael Hickey/WireImage)
"The Bachelorette" (Season 2): Meredith Phillips picked Ian McKee, who proposed to Phillips in the season finale. They broke off their engagement a year later in February 2005. (Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic)
"The Bachelor" (Season 6): Byron Velvick and Mary Delgado were together for five years, but eventually broke up in 2009.
"The Bachelorette" (Season 3): Jen Schefft initially didn't choose either of her final two men, but during a live final rose ceremony, Schefft ended up choosing Jerry Ferris. When Ferris proposed, though, Schefft denied his proposal. Get all that?
"The Bachelor" (Season 7): Charlie O'Connell (brother of actor Jerry O'Connell) and Sarah Brice dated on and off for five years before calling it quits for good in 2010. They were never engaged. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
"The Bachelor" (Season 8): Travis Lane Stork, who you may recognize now as a current host of "The Doctors," and Sarah Stone broke up shortly after their season of the show aired in 2006.
"The Bachelor" (Season 9): Lorenzo Borghese and Jennifer Wilson dated for about four months before breaking up in January 2007. Borghese never proposed. 
"The Bachelor" (Season 10): Andrew Baldwin proposed to Tessa Horst in the season finale of his season, but the couple ended their engagement a month later. They continued dating for a few months before breaking up for good in the fall of 2007.

"The Bachelor" (Season 11): Brad Womack made history by choosing neither DeAnna Pappas nor Jenni Croft, leaving him with nobody at the end of the season.

(Photo by Edward Herrera/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 12): Matt Grant and Shayne Lamas got engaged on the season finale, but broke up just a few months later in the summer of 2008.

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 4): DeAnna Pappas and Jesse Csincsak set their wedding date for a year after the finale of their season, but broke up before they could get there after six months of dating. Pappas would later return for Season 13 of "The Bachelor," and Csincsak ended up marrying a contestant from that same season.

(Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)

"The Bachelor" (Season 13): Jason Mesnick chose Molly Malaney over original winner Melissa Rycroft after he ended his engagement to Rycroft. Mesnick and Malaney famously wed on a TV special called "The Bachelor: Jason and Molly's Wedding" in March 2010. They welcomed their first child together in 2013 and are still together. 

(Photo by Robert Voets/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 5): Jillian Harris and Ed Swiderski were engaged for a little over a year before breaking up in July 2010.

(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMG)

"The Bachelor" (Season 14): Jake Pavelka proposed to Vienna Girardi at the end of his season, but the couple called off their engagement just a few months later.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 6): Ali Fedotowsky and Roberto Martinez were engaged for 15 months before ending their relationship in November 2011.

"The Bachelor" (Season 15): Brad Womack was given another shot at love after ending Season 11 without a woman. He proposed to Emily Maynard during the show's finale after the couple had broken up during their season. They were engaged for just a few months before breaking up in May 2011.

(Photo by Mark Wessels/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 7): Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum got engaged on the finale of their season and married over a year later in a televised wedding. They share two children together and are still together.

(Photo by Rob Kim/WireImage)

"The Bachelor" (Season 16): Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson broke up while their season was airing, but resumed their engagement for another six months or so before ending things for good in October of 2012.

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 8): Emily Maynard and Jef Holm were engaged for about six months before going their separate ways.

(Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 17): Sean Lowe proposed to Catherine Giudici in the finale of his season, and they got married in January of 2014. They have one child together, Samuel, who was born in July 2016. They're still married.

(Photo by Dave Hagerman/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 9): Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried got married two years after their season wrapped in January 2015. They share one child together and are still married.

(Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 18): Controversial Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis didn't propose to Nikki Ferrell, but they dated for over half a year before breaking up in October 2014. 

(Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 10): Andi Dorfman and Josh Murray ended their engagement about half a year after their got engaged. Murray would later be engaged to Amanda Standon from Season 20 of "The Bachelor," who he met on "Bachelor In Paradise" Season 3, but they broke up just six months later.

(Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 19): Chris Soules and Whitney Bischoff ended their engagement less than three months after the finale of Soules' season.

(Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 11): Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth got engaged in the season finale of their season in the summer of 2015, and they're still engaged and living together in Nashville.

(Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 20): Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell enjoyed a little over a year of being engaged, before announcing their split in May 2017. They had starred on "Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After" together in the fall of 2016.

(Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)

"The Bachelorette" (Season 12): JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers got engaged on the season finale of their season in the summer of 2016. They're still together and living in Dallas.

(Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images)

"The Bachelor" (Season 21): Nick Viall proposed to Vanessa Grimaldi on the finale of his season, and they're still engaged.

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

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And when it came to learning that Luyendyk Jr. would become the season 22 Bachelor, Stempfley says she found out just like the rest of Bachelor Nation: during his appearance on Good Morning America earlier this month.

My tall, still somewhat dark, and handsome

A post shared by Sydney Stempfley (@sydneystempfley) on

"Backing up, I saw Arie's name being tossed around on Twitter, suggesting he should become the next Bachelor. So I texted him for the first time in awhile, exactly four days before the announcement on Labor Day, and I said, ‘Are you awake?' And he called me within a minute or two," she claims. "I asked him, 'If you were becoming the next Bachelor, would you at least have the decency to tell me?' and he said, 'Yes, of course,' and then proceeded to tell me that he hadn't been contacted by producers, so he doubts that would even be a possibility."

"So, when I found out he was becoming the next Bachelor a month after our break up, I'm sure you can imagine that I was completely blindsided," she adds.

When ET asked if she thought The Bachelor had anything to do with their breakup, she says, "I would like to think it didn't."

"You can only believe what someone tells you, so, you know, there’s no proof that he had been auditioning or talking to producers at that point," she explains. “The only thing I have to go off of is his word."

As for what advice she'd like to give the girls who'll be competing for Luyendyk Jr.'s heart?

"Good luck," she jokes. "You know, I really don’t have anything else to say to them... I don’t know what’s going to come about this season. If this is what he wants and if he's determined for it to work, then I hope that it does for him."

"[But] I don't want to sound like I’m bashing him," she continues. "The breakup has been absolute hell for sure, but aside from this, he is a really great guy. We had the best relationship and that's why it's so shocking to me when this [came] out and then you hate to question [the reason] because of his word but at the same time..."

Safe for another week 🌹

A post shared by Sydney Stempfley (@sydneystempfley) on

Following their breakup, Stempfley tells ET she had actually applied to be on the show after her friends encouraged her to audition. She says she didn't get that far in the process, and "had no idea" that Luyendyk Jr. was going to be the next Bachelor. She says her ex was not aware she applied.

"I applied just about a week or so ago actually, not too long ago," she clarifies. "I leaned on my girlfriends for support through this time and at one point they suggested that I apply for the show."

"It had never really crossed my mind but I decided to do [it]," she continues. "So I actually only submitted an online application. I didn’t get around to making a video, so I wasn’t far into the process."

Stempfley says ABC has not reached out to her about possibly coming onto the show as a suitor or guest. But if they do, would she do it?

“I would need to think it through before coming up with a definite answer," she says. "But I do feel like I have questions, of course, [like], 'Is this the reason? [Is this] why you broke up with me?' That's probably my biggest question."

As for what went wrong, Stempfley says she's "not totally sure" and hopes that she'll one day get closure.

"I loved him and he led me to believe that he loved me too," she admits. "We never said it, I think probably because we’re both very stubborn, but I thought the feeling was mutual. All in all, I guess we were just progressing at different rates."

“We really stayed focused on living in the moment and enjoying the time we spent together, so [it was] just one of those things we didn’t really talk much about," she says, when asked if the two ever talked about having kids or getting married in the future. "[He told me] that after a year of dating, his feelings should be stronger than they currently are."

ET has reached out to ABC and Luyendyk Jr. for comment. ABC is not commenting.

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