On Wednesday's episode of "The Bellas Podcast," which she hosts with her twin sister, Brie, the former WWE star, 36, opened up about how "difficult" it was going through a breakup in the public eye, explaining why people thought it was all for publicity.
Nikki and Cena's rollercoaster of a relationship, which lasted six years, ended for good in summer 2018, just a few months after they broke off their engagement. The demise of their years-long romance played out for viewers on Season 3 of "Total Bellas."
"I can imagine because, you know, going through a public breakup, that was difficult," Nikki told former "Bachelor" contestant Hannah Ann Sluss,who went through a similar situation as Nikki. "What was tough about that was it came out before a season on-air, so people thought it was a publicity stunt. Like it was fake just to get people to tune in."
Nikki noted how Hannah Ann's experience must have been more difficult than hers because she couldn't reveal anything about how "The Bachelor" ended. (As fans recall, Peter Weber proposed to Hannah Ann on the show, but then broken up with her before the finale aired.)
"And mine was different than yours because I was going through pain of like, 'No, this is real. I'm not lying,'" Nikki told Hannah Ann. "But I couldn't imagine having to keep that in and being like, 'Well, tune in! You'll see if we get engaged!'"
Although much time has passed -- and that she's moved on with Artem Chigvintsev --- Nikki said she worries that she'll never be able to escape her breakup from John.
"I'm always, constantly going to Brie, like, 'Am I ever gonna get away from this?'" she said. "Artem will deal with stuff, and I even know that my ex-fiancé will deal with stuff, and it's hard."
"It's been, what? Almost three years? Two-and-a-half years? And we still have it," she continued. "I feel like I'm gonna have this triangle for the rest of my life. And so I just try to have this shell that fights it all. Because it used to get to me really bad, for a long time."
While discussing last week's episode of "Total Bellas," which featured Nikki's mom Kathy Colace debating whether or not to include Artem in the family portrait, John was brought up once more.
"I won't let my Nana take certain photos down that John's in because those are memories," Nikki explained. "And he's an amazing man. Just keep it on the wall. I don't mind. Artem doesn't mind. I'm not here to erase memories."
Following her split from John in 2018, Nikki moved on with Artem, who she was paired with on Season 25 of "DWTS" back in 2017. The couple dated for little over a year before announcing their engagement -- and a few weeks later Nikki and Brie revealed they were both pregnant.