“Love Island USA” contestant Mady McLanahan says leaving the villa was the “best decision” she ever made.
“That week after Andy [Voyen] left, it just really became a struggle,” she says in an exclusive interview with Page Six, revealing that the handsome real estate agent’s early exit from the Peacock reality show resulted in the “biggest heartbreak” of her life.
“I was really trying to stay positive and put myself out there. Just because I knew I owed it to myself, I needed to see if there was another connection … I was really trying,” McLanahan elaborates.
“But then at the end of the day, all I could think about was Andy.”
Earlier this week, during a surprise elimination, the Islanders were tasked with sending one girl and one boy home.
The group ultimately sent Bryce Fins packing. But McLanahan departed on her own volition, confident that no other man could compare to Voyen, whose sweet disposition and love for his family she couldn’t resist.
“When it came down to it and I knew someone was going to have to leave, there was a voice inside of my head that was like, ‘You need to volunteer.’ And when I said it, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is the right thing for me to do,’” she explains.
“I knew it was time for my journey to end for someone else’s to begin.”
McLanahan’s farewell speech shocked her castmates, leaving many in tears and her villa bestie, Deb Chubb, seemingly inconsolable.
“Seeing Deb hysterical like that was one of the hardest moments of my life. Besides Andy leaving, that was my toughest goodbye. She is my best friend now and I did not want to leave her. I really miss her and everyone else because we all got so close,” she says.
“But it wouldn’t have been fair to anyone if I had stayed another week and my head still wasn’t in it.”
After Voyen left, McLanahan tried cracking on with new boy Jared Hassim — but her connection with the sexy photographer paled in comparison.
“When I was talking to people, I was attracted to them, they did check a lot of my boxes but I just didn’t see it working,” she admits.
Earlier in the season, Voyen briefly explored a romance with contestant Sydney Paight. However, he regretted his decision and ultimately chose to recouple with McLanahan, though — unbeknownst to viewers — he had to work hard to win her back.
“He told me that he realized how much he really did like me, and how much he wanted a second chance and even though he didn’t deserve it, he would do anything in his power to earn that respect back,” she divulges.
“They didn’t show all the effort that he put in and how apologetic he was for putting me in that position in the first place.”
After reconciling with Voyen — and a succession of “deep, good conversations” — McLanahan felt they could flourish in the real world.
“I was taking everything into consideration … Could I see myself potentially, years down the road, marrying this person? Would this person be a good father to my future kids? Because those are the conversations that you need to have when you are dating,” she says of their discussions.
“I just knew from the moment we started having conversations that our connection could actually work outside of the villa.”
Now that they’re both back home — McLanahan in Oklahoma and Voyen in Minnesota — the pair has made plans to reunite in person next week following flirty FaceTime calls and countless texts.
“He’s planning on coming to Oklahoma. We talked a lot about brunch on our brunch date [in the villa] and how much he loves bottomless mimosas, so I think we should definitely go to brunch,” the social media marketing manager teases.
“I think just having alone quality time and getting to catch up and have those conversations about what our future would be like is really the goal — as well as going out to eat and having a few margaritas because I miss margaritas.”
McLanahan and Voyen are taking their relationship “one day at a time” at this point, she says. “Obviously, we have to get back into the reality of life, but we’re in a very good spot, very hopeful to see what could come and we’re excited.”
Thanks to the accelerated experience of “Love Island USA,” they have already established that they are “open” to relocating for one another.
“I think a future with Andy would be very fun. We’re both very positive people and we do bring out the best in one another,” McLanahan tells Page Six, adding that their respective loved ones have even granted their seal of approval solely from watching the couple’s love story unfold onscreen.
“So, I definitely see a very good future with him.”
“Love Island USA” — hosted by Sarah Hyland — is available to stream on Peacock. New episodes drop Tuesday through Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.
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