After 10 days of bonding on “pod” dates on Netflix’s Love Is Blind and never having seen one another, Diamond Jack and Carlton Morton got engaged. When they finally were able to meet in person, the sparks continued to fly.
But then they arrived on vacation together in Mexico, and everything unraveled.
Shortly after they settled into their room, Carlton, who is 34 and works with kids who want to be models and actors, revealed something he hadn’t told Diamond before he popped the question: He had previously slept with both men and women.
Diamond, who is 28 and working on her PhD in optometry, was taken aback and felt that Carlton had lied to her by not revealing this information while they were getting to know one another in the pods. And Carlton took Diamond’s surprise as rejection.
The conversation continued the next day and quickly spiraled, with accusations, name-calling, a drink in the face and even a diamond ring hurled into the pool. The engagement, their relationship and their time as part of the show’s “is love blind?” experiment was over.
Of course, life goes on, and nearly a year-and-a-half later (the show was filmed in October and November of 2018), Diamond and Carlton sat down with PEOPLE to discuss that fight, the death threats they’ve received since the first episodes were released and where they stand now.
PEOPLE: Your connection in the pod seemed so genuine. It was really beautiful. But right when you got to Mexico, all of a sudden the vibe was off. Carlton, do you feel like maybe you came in with a chip on your shoulder and assumption of how things were going to go?
CARLTON MORTON: By the time we got to Mexico, my nerves were just shot… I got to Mexico and I had a conversation with producers that it had gone too long and I needed to tell her, but so much has happened. I’m feeling like, “Okay, I’m engaged to her now. Am I going to walk down the aisle without telling her? I’m at least talk to her before then.”
You’ve now had all of this time to process everything that happened. What would you do differently or how would you handle it differently?
CARLTON: I feel like we were met with some things that neither one of us really knew how to handle at that time and may not have handled that situation in the best way. I would listen more than speak because even though it was a new experience for me, it was a new experience for her. And when I say new experience from me, I mean just the whole hoopla of TVs, cameras all in your face. Because it’s not like I’m just having a conversation with her. I’m having a conversation with her and the world and that is playing in the back of my mind. I’m like, “Netflix is going to see this. This will never go away. Your kids’ kids will see that.” And it’s just all those nerves. I wish that I would have not allowed myself to be so defensive. I thought that I was being rejected and I think I counted myself out before she did.
DIAMOND JACK: I would change the approach of it. I was trying to be very understanding, but I had questions because I’ve never been with a bisexual man. I don’t really know that community that well, but I respect the community. I love the community. I just had questions. Maybe I should have been more encouraging and maybe start off saying, “I’m happy you were able to open up to me. I’m happy you’re able to bring this to my attention at this moment in time.” Or, “I’m happy you came out. I know this is very hard for you to do that.” That possibly could have changed that whole outcome of how we were aggressive toward each other.
At what point did you end up getting back in touch?
CARLTON: It took a full year because I didn’t send a message until the holidays. And that’s because all the cast was on the GroupMe app and you can break off and do private messages. I’d seen that she was in there and the cast had met up on several occasions and I just didn’t go because I didn’t know what the energy would be. Not that I felt like she would lash out or anything. I just didn’t want for either one of us to feel uncomfortable because we had not had spoken. So I just wished her happy holidays she responded in due time. And I think the next message was Happy Birthday or something and then it just was small talk. And then when it came to us getting the emails saying the show was coming out, I called her. I’m glad that we were able to come to a common ground to still have respect for one another.
DIAMOND: I do understand where Carlton is coming from. The reason why I didn’t want to speak to him before was, because I needed time to just heal. Honestly, I was hurt. As you see, I’ve cried on national TV for hours. The cameras didn’t even get me right away. So I needed the time to heal. And then also I wanted to make sure I knew what to say and understand where he was coming from. Because I give Carlton the utmost respect for coming out and telling the world his story. And I feel like the world can be very negative about it and then they can be positive about it. I know it’s hard for anyone to do something like that. So I’ve wanted to make sure I had the right questions and just knew how to approach it. And also I had to forgive him and be able to be in a comfortable space with him. And once he apologized, I wanted to hear him out. I wanted to hear why. You never know what people are going through. You never know their story. And I really wanted to know what happened, what was going on and why it happened that way.
Were you nervous for those episodes to come out?
DIAMOND: We both were. At one point in time, I’m like maybe they might cut us out. Because we didn’t go do more things on the trip and the others were able to walk down the aisle. We didn’t make it to the altar, so I didn’t know if they were going to use us or not because our story didn’t end as a fairytale story.
What did you tell people the people in your lives to warn them that this was coming?
CARLTON: I told the people that mattered to me that I was concerned with their opinions. I was like, “This show is coming out and it’s probably going to be a tough time for me because I spoke my entire truth.” And they didn’t really push the issue. They just said, “Okay, whatever it is, we have your back.”
DIAMOND: I didn’t really tell anybody, only because I was very nervous and just scared of what was about to be shown. I was vulnerable and put my whole life out on TV.
It sounds like you guys have been getting some mixed reactions and some pretty awful ones—even death threats.
DIAMOND: It’s very insane. I’ve been called so many names under the book now, calling me a disgusting human being. It’s crazy.
CARLTON: Let’s be clear. The words that I said was the word that slipped out. I’m going to keep clearing that up. It was boxing her into a group of females. It was not a direct jab. Some people get that, some people don’t… I can’t change the way someone feels that they were addressed. You hear what I’m saying? So I just have to respect it.
What do you want people to know about who you are that maybe you feel it doesn’t show up on the show?
CARLTON: I feel like if people cannot see that I’m a kindhearted person, they’ve already seen what they want to see in me… It’s evident in the types of messages that I’m getting. So there’s literally nothing that I can say to make them feel different. It is just one of those things that happened and I’m confident that God has a bigger lesson from this whole experience.
DIAMOND: I feel like I put my heart out there. It pretty much shows what my intentions were coming into this whole experiment. And I don’t know if I would say anything to let people see besides that I’m not homophobic or I’m not biophobic. I respect that community, like I said before. It’s just that I feel like people shouldn’t lash out on other people when they don’t understand the community. It’s not that we’re ignorant. It’s not that we don’t care about you or it’s not that we hate you. It’s just the fact that we just have the lack of knowledge… I just didn’t know. I feel like people should not label me because I was curious about that community that I did not really know about.
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So could this experience wind up the foundation for a pretty amazing friendship?
CARLTON: At this point, whatever happens, happens. It would be great. But it takes time I think. I think we both have to still process the way we feel. We still have different views on the way things panned out and what was done wrong.
DIAMOND: Exactly. That’s one thing that we do agree about on this show. One hundred percent what Carlton just said. We have a lot of growing, both of us, to do and I am willing to grow. I love growing but I feel like we can at least come now to a medium and be able to sit and now talk because this is a very touchy subject. And both of us still get emotional about it. Even though it happened over a year ago, it still feels like it was yesterday.
The first nine episodes of Love Is Blind are streaming on Netflix now. The two-hour season finale will be released on Feb. 27.