Kaitlynn Carter is refusing to pass off her romance with Miley Cyrus as a summer fling, insisting she became a better person thanks to the pop star.
The reality TV star and Miley vacationed in Europe together while both were recovering from marriage break-ups, and they fell hard in love, Carter tells Elle.
"(It was) my first and only romance with a woman…," she explains. "I fell just as hard for her as I had the older man so many years before. It was that same familiar force of nature; I didn't have to think about a thing or overanalyze. It just happened and it felt exactly right.
"Reflecting back on our three-year friendship, I realized I'd always been drawn to her in a way I wasn't with other friends, but until that trip it had never crossed my mind to think of her in a romantic sense."
She adds, "While it (romance) was short-lived, I'll remain eternally grateful to my most recent relationship for opening my eyes to this unexplored part of myself, and for inspiring a new level of self-discovery and wonder at all the possibilities of life. I've been forced to get to know myself in a far deeper way than ever before, and not just in terms of my sexual preferences. I've also been forced to reckon with who I am as a person.
"Although the relationship with my friend was often referenced in the media as merely a 'summer fling' or a 'same-sex affair', it was so much more than that. This was a profound journey of self-discovery. For the first time, I listened to myself, forgot about the 'norm', and lived."