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The Bachelor and Bachelorette Shows: Unlucky at Love?
The Bachelor and Bachelorette: Forever After for Awhile?
The ABC television show, The Bachelor, isn’t winning hearts over.Since 2002, this show has been giving one lucky man at a time the opportunity to find his true love among twenty-five gorgeous women.
Remember when Bachelor veteran, Jason Mesnick, disappointed women across the country when he explained his change of mind and broke up with his fiancé, Melissa, on the show’s After the Final Rose episode? And what about Jake Pavelka choosing Vienna, after every woman in the house warned him, and their subsequent messy breakup plastered across the tabloids? And then there was Brad Womack who got two tries, but is still single after he and Emily Maynard broke up. The statistics for the Bachelors looks pretty grim.
The Bachelorette, ABC’s follow up show to The Bachelor, hasn’t fared much better. When Bachelorette, Trista Rehn chose Ryan Sutter at the final rose ceremony it seemed as though this idea might actually work. However since Trista only one other Bachelorette has found love, and that's Ali Fedotowsky who still seems to be madly in love with her choice, Roberto Martinez.
Why do these shows rarely work for men or women?
Couples Need Time to Explore
The Bachelor and Bachelorette Pressured to Make Hasty Decisions?
In Mars and Venus on a Date, written by John Gray, Ph.D (HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), he writes about how men and women fall in love. He explains that before either a man or woman falls in love, they must go through four levels of chemistry and attraction: mental, emotional, physical and intimacy. However, the order of each level is different for male and female.
The order of attraction for women is: mental, emotional, physical, and then intimacy and love. For men, the order is: physical, emotional, mental, and then intimacy and love. Bottom line, both must feel the chemistry on all four levels with open hearts before they can end up in love. Even once they get to the stage of feeling “in love”, both parties still need to continue exploring the relationship to make sure it is the right one for them.
So, there is one problem for both shows. The final episode ends at level four just as the exploration stage begins. Each has gotten to level four with two people at the same time, at which point they are expected to pick one potential life partner and say goodbye to the other. If both hopefuls have attracted the Bachelor or Bachelorette equally at all four levels, that decision must feel near impossible. In the case of Jason Mesnick, he admitted on national television that he couldn’t stop thinking about Molly and asked for another chance after breaking up with Melissa.
Obviously, real love does not follow a television show's script or schedule.
The Bachelor's "Role" is to Pursue
The Bachelor: Pursuer or Pursued?
Men and woman have assigned roles in a developing relationship, whether they know it or not. In his book, Dr. Gray states, “Even with a more accurate understanding of our differences, we unknowingly sabotage the attraction in a relationship by switching roles. It is vital for the growth of romance and attraction that the man in a relationship maintain the role of pursuer, while the woman continues in the role of being pursued.”
For The Bachelor, this concept of “staying in our roles” may be the show’s biggest flaw. After all, The Bachelor is not really about a man pursuing his true love, but instead, twenty-five women pursuing him. It may seem like a panacea for a man who wants to find a wife, but if Gray’s philosophy is correct, a "Mars" man won’t stay in romantic love with any of the twenty-five women since he didn’t have to pursue that woman at all to end up with her.
Almost every relationship reaches a stage of uncertainty. Since the show spans approximately sixteen weeks, these shows are much like a whirlwind romance, and uncertainty may surface quickly as soon as the show ends. In real life, at this stage, a man may start to wonder if he has made a mistake by closing off all other possible opportunities.
In the case of the Bachelor, the timing of his "uncertainty" once the show is over may coincide with his descent from the high of twenty-five beautiful women pursuing him. Doesn’t it seem natural that he might wonder, at this point, if one of the other women might have been better for him? Or maybe, in his egotistical state, that he can step it up a level and choose from another group of women even MORE wonderful?
Two of the Bachelors ended up doing just that. As recapped in Wikipedia's "The Bachelor (the Series)", Andrew Firestone married American model and actress Ivana Bozilovic and Bob Guiney ended up married to actress Rebecca Buddig. Apparently their enhanced confidence allowed them to pursue and win love at a level they might not have aspired to!
The Bachelorette: Does She Score Her Soul Mate or Just the Victor?
If the pursuit is all that matters, wouldn’t the format for The Bachelorette result in true love? Her suitors become engaged in the ultimate pursuit; She flirts, offers herself as the prize and then lets the men rumble. As a result, the men become almost caveman-like during the show, with the testosterone level onscreen at an almost pathetic level. We watch as twenty-five grown men answer the challenge onscreen by puffing up chests and practically knocking each other over going for the prize!
But one has to wonder if this is really about love for them or are they just wrapped up in the goal of winning? And when she hits the point of uncertainty in this new relationship, what if her man has stopped his pursuit of her? Will she feel taken for granted without all that adoration? And what about the winning man? Does he need a new challenge? Every woman knows at least one man who pursues until she is caught and then scrams in search of his next conquest!
Jason's Breakup with Melissa: Did the Rubberband Break?
The Bachelor and John Gray’s “Rubber Band” Theory
Gray has this advice for women in his book, “To create a relationship, a woman must be careful not to pursue a man but to be responsive to his pursuit.” He furthers explains his Rubber Band Theory, which is similar to “one step forward two steps back” that all relationships seem to experience. He explains that a man will reach a doubtful point in the relationship and pull back. When that happens, Gray advises women to give the man his space and shares his insight that “they can only stretch so far before they come springing back.”
He says another thing in this book that applies directly to The Bachelor’s situation, “A man’s tendency to pull away is most extreme when he experiences intimacy before he is ready.” And further, “If he has not experienced enough love, then the rubber band breaks.”
The show forces a man to make a decision that seems to be doomed to the Rubber Band Theory quickly. Soon after the final rose, he probably thinks: "what did I do"? And then, "how do I undo this mistake and save face"?
Bachelorettes – Are They Expecting a Perpetual Vacation?
Another issue is the experience of pursuing love within a fairy tale. From the mansion-like homes they stay in to the exotic places they are flown to, the experience must be a heady one. They have dates in helicopters, candle light dinners on the top of highrises under a mass of stars, limousine rides to events set up for them as if they were celebrities.
Having lived through a courtship like this, how can two people return to the real world and be happy together with a rented movie and a pepperoni pizza? Anyone who has experienced meeting someone at a gala affair or on vacation, knows that a second meeting after returning to normalcy can shine the spotlight on someone who isn’t really so interesting after all. Love can be wrapped up in candlelight, but must be opened in full daylight. If the love doesn’t pass that test, it’s over.
Off Into the Sunset Forever?
From Group Date to Exclusivity: Hard Transition?
Anyone who has dated on a non-mogonamous basis knows that becoming exclusive with one person is a test all of its own. Until that point, life is fairly exciting. Keeping company with multiple suitors dilutes the shortcomings of each suitor; what one lacks, the other has, so all needs are being met by dating several people. Once exclusivity is agreed upon, both partners will now find out if this chosen partner can meet their needs alone.
And it is here, at this make-or-break point, after two people have fallen in love as the world watched on national televison, that the new exclusive Bachelor or Bachelorette couple drive off into the sunset.
But everyone knows that after the sunset (or final rose) must come the dawn.