updated 12/08/2011 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 12/08/2011 AT 12:30 PM ET
“Sometimes, in order for things to get better, they have to end – even if it’s momentarily,” she tells PEOPLE at the opening of Rebecca Taylor Boutique in Los Angeles. “And that was the case with us.”
As far as Cavallari, 24, is concerned, the love between her and Cutler was always there, and the reason for the split is something that she and Cutler, 28, who’s been sidelined this football season with a thumb injury, have worked through.
“No one really knows what happened between the two of us, and we want to keep it that way,” she says. “We broke up, and we were still talking during that whole time.”
Even while separated, the passion never left the relationship.
“We didn’t break up because of love lost,” Cavallari tells PEOPLE. “We loved each other just as much as we always did when we weren’t together.”