By Sydney Bucksbaum
March 03, 2020 at 09:00 AM EST
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Love Is Blind_Season1_Episode10
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Warning: The following post contains spoilers from the season 1 finale of Love Is Blind.

There's nothing good about being dumped at the altar. The only thing that can make it worse? Getting dumped at the altar on camera for a reality series that blows up on Netflix a year and a half later.

Love Is Blind was filmed back in 2018 but Mark is currently reliving his disastrous wedding breakup with Jessica now that the season 1 finale has debuted on the streaming service. The then-24-year-old was dumped at the altar by the then-34-year-old Jessica in front of his closest family and friends. It was far from the happily ever after he was hoping for, but he also reveals that the reality dating experiment series didn't show everything when it came to his love story with Jessica.

Below, EW got Mark to detail everything viewers didn't see, where his relationship with Jessica stands now, and more.

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you been watching the episodes now that they're streaming on Netflix and if so, what has surprised you the most about how your story was portrayed onscreen?

MARK CUEVAS: I have watched the episodes and everything’s great in terms of the overall picture of everything. I see the story. I think they missed out a little bit on why Jess and I connected. We didn’t just connect because Jess and I were from Chicago, like oh, she’s the one. We really connected on a deeper level. We did a gift-giving day. We had a nacho and queso day. We did things. We were actually really goofy with each other and had a lot of fun. Because it is very intense and serious, what we’re doing, a lot of those relief moments of like, wow they’re normal people, I think got missed out. But other than that, all of it’s authentic and all of it’s real. By the end of it, Jess gave me a daily devotional and we really connected on that. I gave her my grandmother’s bracelet -- my grandmother had passed away three years ago and so for me, that’s me being like, hey you’re a part of my family. It was deeper. That’s why I feel the connection her and I had was so real. We got to be vulnerable regardless of the age and all that other stuff.

Take me back to the beginning, after you got engaged in the pods, when you and Jessica see each other in person for the first time, what was that in your hands that you gave to her? It looked like a sweatshirt?

The funny thing that people don’t know, the day before I proposed, they were like, "Is there any last things you want to give to them as a gift?" I didn’t know she was doing this but she sent me a pillow case with a bow on it that had her perfume on it. She said, "I can’t tell you what I’m deciding but I hope this gives you comfort." I’ll never forget the way it smelled. She gave me that, and when I saw her, I made it a point to walk across and I gave her my sweatshirt that had my cologne on it and said, "I wanted to return the favor," so that way she didn’t forget about me. A lot of that stuff like that was missed. I’ll never forget that moment where I walked across the red carpet and saw her -- nothing else mattered. Looking back at it, it was all real. There was nothing I would take back from that. I was on top of the mountaintops.

Fast forward to your wedding day. How do you feel about the way she left you at the altar now that you’ve had some time and distance from that moment?

I haven’t seen any footage of the finale yet. At this point, it is what it is. It’s funny, you’re bringing me back. You find this love, I was 100 percent in it, you have this feeling of like, that person didn’t pick you. But the experience was so intense, I wasn’t even mad at her. I was upset and disappointed but I wasn’t angry. It just hurt, you know? You think for a little while, what’s wrong with me? What could have gone differently? But that is a recipe for misery. When you really think about it, everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen. It was a blessing in disguise and in the moment I was hurt but afterwards you look back and realize I am who I am because of it.

On the day, did you have any idea things were going to play out like that? Jessica told EW she knew she wasn't going to say "I do" and you two had conversations about how you both weren't ready to get married.

Honestly, with Jess I didn’t know what to expect. I went in same as the experience as I’m just going to be myself and whatever I feel in the moment. I saw her walking down the aisle, I saw the wedding dress, originally she told me she wasn’t going to wear a wedding dress. But she walked down that aisle and it’s this moment of holy shit, this is what the pods, this whole thing, was all about. I don’t know -- I like blacked out because I was so present in the moment of what I was feeling.

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When was the last time you saw or spoke to Jessica?

I saw Jess at the reunion [which will debut on Netflix's YouTube channel on March 5]. I think it was just a lot of emotions at first. But by the end of it, we both looked at each other like, dude we went through this together. She’s always going to have a special place in my heart. It was such a mind-opening experience. I have no ill will towards her and I wish her nothing but the best and success in any relationship, career, whatever she decides to do.

Was the reunion the first time you saw her since the wedding?

Yeah, it was a year and a half that I hadn’t seen her or spoken to her. At first it was a lot of oh, you know. But by the end of it, we were both like, it happened a year and a half ago, we both learned a lot and now we’re just living our lives, doing what we do.

Where does your relationship stand now?

She’s always going to have a special place in my heart and if she ever needed anything, I would 100 percent help her out. Anything like that. I know speaking to her recently, she’d probably do the same. I’m not mad at her. There are no grudges. With this whole experience, I’ve become the man I am. I’ve become a better man out of it. I have nothing but love for her.

Has the experience of watching the episodes changed how you view your relationship with Jessica?

I wouldn’t necessarily say with Jessica -- it’s made me very introspective with relationships in general. I connected with everyone and I set healthy boundaries now. I’m very big on miscommunication. People are always going to hurt you whether they’re your family or friends but at the end of the day, can you learn from that? Are you open enough to be willing to keep moving forward with relationships and be up front and communicate? No matter what, Jess and I’s relationship taught me so much, especially at 24. I turned 26 this weekend and who I was then, I look back and I’m like wow. Who I am now, it’s like this boot camp of emotional intelligence that I’m super thankful for. I’m blessed to have been part of it.

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Did you know how much Barnett was a factor in her decision making before seeing the episodes?

That whole Barnett and Jess situation, I don’t think it was as serious as it was made out to be. I think what happened is possibly, again we’re in this tiny little bubble and we’re trying to figure it out. It’s so intense. I think finding comfort is what any of us were trying to do. It really wasn’t that much of a factor. Me and Barnett were good friends. I look back at it and I don’t think it was as big of a thing as it was portrayed to be.

Did you know about it at the time?

Oh yeah. I told Jess after that first day of dating I kind of already knew who I was picking. We connected instantly. I made more friendships with the other girls and Jess I connected with emotionally. But that’s part of the experience, figuring it out and what you want. I knew deep down that I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t pursue it 100 percent with Jess.

The internet has been going wild over the moment when Jessica fed her dog wine during a serious conversation with you -- when that happened, what went through your mind?

Looking back at it, when she gave Payton wine, you see it happening in your peripheral but I was so just focused on the conversation like holy shit, we’re questioning each other and trying to figure this out. You look back and you’re like, oh shit did that really happen? [Laughs] But in the moment I was just trying to figure out what was going on with our conversation that I didn’t even think about it. But I look back at it and it’s funny to see the fan reaction to all that.

What was it really like living together in the weeks leading up to your wedding?

Life doesn’t stop, even for the show. She’s such a hustler and career-driven person that even when she got back, she was like, "I’ve got to travel. I’ve got to do my thing." When she went, she had to go to work. Not that it’s a bad thing. She told me that she had to travel for work in the pods. She was hustlin’ doing her thing. We got two weeks in the apartment and I got maybe one of those weeks. It’s not like I was upset about it, it is what it is and she had to do what she had to do.

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A big topic of conversation for all the engaged couples on the show was when to have sex. You and Jessica talked about it a lot in the beginning because she said she wasn’t ready but we find out in episode 9 you two did start sleeping together before the weddings. When and how did that change for your relationship?

When we got back to Atlanta, that whole experience hit her really hard in Mexico. We’re in a bubble that we’re just trying to figure it out and it’s very intense. But when we got to Atlanta, back to home, we felt at the time, we were being 100 percent. She finally opened up, I had spoken to her about being so up and down and she had spoken to me about the things she had reservations about and it just kind of happened. It’s not like we talked about it or anything like that. We just opened up even more to each other and it happened.

Now that the show is out on Netflix, what kind of response have you been getting from your family and close friends?

My family and friends, my circle makes fun of me so this is new material honestly. It’s adding more fuel to their fire. If you don’t make fun of the people you’re close with, are you really friends? They’ve been really awesome and supportive through the whole process. My mom and my dad are both very proud. My family was very supportive. I just went in and was myself, so no matter what happened, the hurt, the happiness, the laughter, all those emotions we all dealt with, it was 100 percent authentic and it was me.

Love Is Blind is now streaming on Netflix.

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