Don't feel too sorry for Charlie Maher. The 28-year-old Hermosa Beach, Calif., hottie may have gotten crushed by Trista Rehn on ABC's The Bachelorette last month, but the financial analyst's heart has gone on. "I've been dating a girl for several months now," he tells TV Guide Online. "We're finally able to be out in public, and that's a big relief for both of us." Turns out, that's not the only thing Maher is looking to get off his chest...

TV Guide Online: I heard you were approached to be the next Bachelor. True?
Charlie Maher:
We had had some talks, but it really wasn't for me. I'm not sure I want to put my family through that or expose myself to that again. I'm the type of guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve in matters of the heart, and with the structure of the show, there might be 15 women left and you have to act like you're interested in all of them — when in actuality, I'm probably interested in two or three of them. So, either you're going to be lying to yourself or lying to those girls.

TVGO: You held it together pretty well after Trista's rejection. Did you fall apart after the cameras shut off?
Maher:
To tell you the truth, on that show, the cameras are always on because they're looking for that drama... that dirt. I'm very emotional when it comes to things like that, but I'm also a realist, and you have to understand that I wasn't in love with her. Sure, I was heartbroken at the time, and it hurt when I wasn't going to have that opportunity to grow in a relationship with Trista and find out if it was meant to be and if love could develop there. But I think sometimes the irony of the situation is that my strength ends up being my weakness to the public. They see this guy who is so composed and together and think it's all a game plan, that it's all choreographed. It's not. That's just who I am. I owe that to my parents and the way they raised me. Sometimes, people think I'm just acting. I'm not. That's just the type of person I am. I'm very laid back. I don't think that you have to be aggressive and smothering in any of those situations.

TVGO: Did you tell Trista off camera that you didn't love her?
Maher:
I never said, "I don't love you." But, I also never said, "I'm in love with you." I was very upfront with her about the fact that I wanted to redefine the word engagement. Instead of it being an intermediary step between love and marriage, we could look at it as a committment to be monogamous and faithful and dedicated to one another and find out if... we are meant to be together. But she knew that I wasn't in love with her. I'm not going to fall in love in six weeks.

TVGO: Do you think she was in love with you?
Maher:
Some of the stuff she said on the show was that she was falling in love with two guys at the same time. However, Ryan professed that love for her, and I think that might have been the turning point. I know she had strong feelings for both of us, but it just comes down to a compatibility issue. I think that she made the right choice.

TVGO: Had you fallen in love with her, do you think things would be different right now?
Maher:
I can't say for sure, but there's definitely a possibility it would have been different if I had professed my love in a manner that Ryan did. It probably would have made her decision all that much more difficult.

TVGO: Did you watch every episode?
Maher:
Yes.

TVGO: Can you understand why most viewers thought Trista was going to pick you?
Maher:
Yeah, I see that. Definitely.

TVGO: Well, did we miss something??
Maher:
I was sitting there watching that final episode in a hotel room in New York, and an hour into it I was like, "God, did I pull a dark horse here on myself and win this thing, and I just forgot about it?!" It definitely comes across that way. Obviously, I misread the situation somewhere along the line, and her feelings were for Ryan.

TVGO: Do you feel any anger whatsoever towards her?
Maher:
No, not at all. People have asked if I felt misled, and I don't because I am a realist, and I knew going into this show that there's a structure here. The bottom line is they're making a television show. It's about money. It's about ratings. It's about needing to know that there's some drama there and that people are going to watch it. So, I cannot fault Trista for not flat-out coming out and going, "I'm falling in love with Ryan right now." How could she do that given the structure of the show? It would blow it up.

TVGO: Do you think Ryan and Trista are going to make it?
Maher:
The odds are definitely stacked against them. Most people say it's gonna fail, but from knowing what I know about Ryan and Trista, the emotions that you see between them are very true. I would [bet] money that they do stay together and end up getting married.

TVGO: What's next for you?
Maher:
I'm trying to get everything back together in my life right now; it's been a whirlwind. I just got back into L.A. on Sunday. I'm trying to field a ton of phone calls right now from various people, trying to figure out if there's an interest in Charlie outside The Bachelorette.

TVGO: Would this be in the entertainment biz?
Maher:
Yeah. But I'm not interested in being "the dating show guy." Right now, I'm happy to try and get back to work and get my life back to a little bit of normalcy.

TVGO: How tough was it to keep your new relationship a secret these last couple of months?
Maher:
Very difficult. Basically, the only time I saw her was at her house, because I wasn't willing to risk her coming to my house with the chances of the National Enquirer hiding in my garbage can. So, basically it was just a lot of dinners and quiet time at her place, which could be very beneficial in a relationship because all you have is one another, and you're able to talk about a lot and get to know one another on a very intimate level. But it was difficult with her seeing me on television courting another woman — and the fact that everything surrounding it was, "Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!" She got tired of hearing about it.