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Gillian Lieberman and Edgar De Santiago went onto "Temptation Island" to discover how they could move past a history of infidelity and really commit to each other. Just in their early 20s, they weren't sure if they should fix the relationship or move on.
As viewers saw in Season 4, both made intense connections with other singles: Gillian enjoyed a flirty connection with Tommy Soltis, while Edgar was reciting love poems for Marissa Rodriguez. One of the most shocking bonfire clips of the season was when Gillian had to watch Edgar and Marissa, uh, loudly consummate their attraction to each other. And while both initially opted to leave single after their final bonfire together, Edgar changed his mind and decided to leave with Marissa, after all.
Gillian recently spoke with USA Insider about what it was like to watch that moment back, all the reunion drama, and where she stands with Edgar today.
"I was super shocked watching Edgar leave with Marissa because I didn't know about it at first! When it all happened, the night of the final bonfire, I was still on the island for another few days, just wrapping things up, and I didn't have a phone or anything, and we didn't have communication with the boy's house. So I didn't really know that he went home with Marissa until probably two or three days after the final bonfire! ... it was shocking to watch it on TV now because they're standing there smiling and kissing, and I'm ... in a place of mourning for a three-year relationship, and then he's kissing another girl already and celebrating a new relationship. And to me, that just felt very hard to watch," Gillian said.
While she and Edgar did speak after their time on the island, she revealed they didn't actually see each other in person until the reunion. Naturally, some intense feelings bubbled up.
"Going into the reunion, I was prepared. I was calm, cool, collected. I had taken time to heal from the whole experience. I knew what I wanted to say, but I wasn't going to be crazy. But then, I came in, and I literally saw Edgar, and I was like, oh my god, I feel unhinged. I don't think I've ever in my life felt the way I did on the day of the reunion ... I think I was just like, I'm going to get everything out there. This is it. This is the last chance I really have for this whole experience to say my piece. I don't regret it, but it was definitely, I think, out of character for me," she explained. "I usually am a little bit more thoughtful about my words and take my time with things, but I was just completely over it."
Still, she emphasized that she and Edgar are in a good place now. While they are not together, Gillian noted they have a lot of love and respect for each other.
"We'll always have each other's backs. That will never go away, I think," she said.
But what about the other man viewers saw her connect with on the island? During the reunion, it seemed Tommy and Gillian had opted not to continue any kind of relationship — and Tommy even defended Edgar in some moments.
"I thought it was super bizarre of Tommy. I don't think anyone was really taking sides, but we had just talked about so much, and I had really opened up to Tommy and let my walls down. So, it almost felt like he was forgetting all of those things I had shared, and that really was hurtful. So, yeah, that was hard ... but you know, Tommy and I only knew each other for a few weeks," she said.
"Tommy and I, afterward, texted a tiny bit, but we don't really talk. I think he was someone who was a good friend to me out of the 16 people in the house. But then in the real world, I have a lot of other friends and family who are my support system. So I don't think that that's really his role in my life. But I see him on social media. I think he is doing well, and I'm happy for him," she added.
Still, despite the painful moments, she doesn't want people to get the impression "Temptation Island" wasn't a good experience for her. In fact, Gillian emphasized she's truly grateful for what she learned on the island.
"I was very happy being on the island, mostly because [of] the friendships I made with the girls. We're all still very, very close to this day, and they are truly some of the greatest people I've ever met. So I'm so grateful for them and just having the experience to focus on myself without the outside distractions of work and my cell phone, media, whatever else. It was really great to just have ... time to focus on my goals and how I want to grow as a person and really get into all that stuff. So I'm really grateful that I did it, and I think I learned a lot about myself, and I think now I've been really making decisions since 'Temptation Island' that are just truly what I want and following my heart," she concluded.
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