Credit: Pacific Coast News

Oh, how we wanted Bachelorette Season 8 lovebirds Emily Maynard and Jef Holm to last. We collected every single GIF of their puppet date in London. We morphed photos of their faces into what their hypothetical offspring might look like. We daydreamed about their Bachelor Nation Royal Wedding. Then, in October 2012, our dreams came crashing down to the tune of official statements from both Em and Jef to People Magazine.

At the time, Emily wrote, “We are just at different points in our lives.” For his part, Jef expressed gratitude for finding a “great friend” in Emily and brushed aside rumors of cheating or fighting. “We are just two people who fell in love and tried our hardest to make it work. I will always love her,” Jef wrote.

Six months later, after kind of getting back together in November and splitting again in December, Jef and Emily are definitely not together — but that doesn’t mean they’re not close. Speaking exclusively with Wetpaint Entertainment at the 2nd Annual Chris4Life Celebrity Auction Event on April 5, Jef told us he and Emily are still great friends. “She’s a great girl,” Jef gushed. “It didn’t work out with us, but she’s a great girl.” The reason? “Ultimately, we wanted different things,” Jef succinctly revealed.

“I ultimately wish the best for her,” Jef added. “And it’s a true testament to maturity, I think, that we can stay friends afterwards and wish the best for each other.” Jef, who had recently been linked to 23-year-old journalist Katianna Bear and beauty queen Nazlie Mojiri, is now single and says he’s looking for a “normal girl.”

Reporting by Carita Rizzo.