Nikki Bella Says She's 'Happy' John Cena Is Dating but Admits She's 'Still Protective' of Him

Nikki Bella just wants the best for her ex.

For the first time since John Cena was spotted with another woman last month, the Total Bellas star — who ended her engagement to the pro wrestler last summer — is revealing her reaction to the photos.

“This is actually kind of hard to talk about,” she admitted on the latest episode of her podcast with twin sister Brie, The Bellas Podcast. “But it’s okay, I need to be a big girl.”

“I’m just going to come out and say it. You all have seen John’s paparazzi pics,” she began. “For some of you who don’t know who John is, he’s my ex-fiancé. We’ve been broken up for like, a year now. But he was spotted with a new mystery woman and everyone has been blowing up my phone, trying to get to my PR to get my reaction. Everyone wants to know what I’ve been thinking and I haven’t said anything yet, so let me just put it out there.”

In March, Cena, 41, was seen out and about in Vancouver, holding hands with a mystery woman later identified as Shay Shariatzadeh. Shariatzadeh is a project manager for Avigilon, a Motorola Solutions tech company, and has been employed at the Vancouver-based company since 2015, according to E! News, which first identified her.

Nikki, 35, confessed that when she first saw a headline about the photos, her “stomach went into knots.”

“I opened it up and when I saw the photo, it was weird,” she said. “You know sometimes when you get a text, or you see a photo, or you see your significant other flirt with someone, you get those knots in your stomach and it hurts? Like you either want to poop your pants immediately … or you just have the craziest tummy-ache. Neither of that happened to me when I saw the photo.”

“That says a lot,” said Brie. “If you didn’t want to s— your pants, then that means you weren’t affected.”

“You know what it was? I never really get to talk about this,” Nikki said. “When [I] film the reality shows, you guys only get to see so much. So one thing that I thought was kind of unfair for John was you saw a very small amount on our reality show about our breakup and of course it was pro-me, because it was coming through my eyes.”

“And I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to say this publicly, but it made me sad for John,” she admitted. “I felt bad for John. I felt bad because I felt like I embarrassed him, I felt like I disappointed him, and I have to live with a lot of that stuff and it’s been tough. If you guys only knew how much therapy I’ve been in.”

Nikki said she and Cena will always keep the intimate details of their split private.

“So there’s a lot that people aren’t going to know [about] why we broke up,” she said. “He’s one of the people, besides you, Brie, who’s made me an amazing person.”

“But because of how sad I made him and how much I felt like I hurt him, when I saw the big smile on his face with the paparazzi photos, I think that’s why I didn’t want to s— my pants, like you said,” she continued. “I felt happy for him. I am very happy for him.”

“As long as John is happy, I’m happy,” she added. “But let me tell you, she breaks his heart? I will rack-attack her in a heartbeat. Still protective of that man.”

Nikki said ultimately, all she wants is for both of them to be content.

“John is an amazing man, and you know what? Our timing wasn’t right,” she said. “Who knows? Can the timing be right for us in the future? Maybe, maybe not. Are we right for other people? Maybe.”

“I think when you’re on a reality show and you put your love out there, we get judged on it so hard. People only see us together. But … I have to follow my heart, I have to follow my feelings,” she continued. “If I’m not happy in a situation, I have to get out of it. Him the same.”

“Let’s just let people be happy,” she urged.

Nikki also revealed that she already knew her ex was dating people.

“He and I have talked about it. Maybe that’s why it didn’t hurt me,” she said. “I knew he was dating someone, so I was actually just really curious to see who he was going on dinner dates with. Which you know they’ll never be like ours. Just kidding. Sorry, that’s the girl in me! Let me get back to being a woman.”

And Cena isn’t the only one moving on: PEOPLE confirmed in January that Nikki and her former Dancing with the Stars partner Artem Chigvinstev were casually dating. Since then, the two have been spotted packing on the PDA and Nikki even recently posted a sweet selfie of the two on Instagram that many fans interpreted as official confirmation that they’re together.

Speaking to PEOPLE at a WrestleMania 35 kickoff event last week, Nikki said she was surprised by the reaction to her post.

“I posted a photo of us because we’re dating and we’re having fun,” she said. “Then everyone went [and said] we were official!”

Still, Nikki insisted she’s “not fully taken.”

Whatever the official relationship status may be, Nikki said she and Chigvintsev are in a good place.

“It’s been great,” she said. “I adore him.”

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