As someone who is studying film and has seen many cinematic classics–think Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Psycho–I recognize that The Bachelor isn’t high art… But the shows are my guilty pleasure.
Every Monday night, my sisters, my mom and I sit on our comfy couch and tune in. We watch women in sparkly ballgowns and men in formal tuxedos kiss, cry, chat and date. We see contestants vie for the coveted red roses that represent hope and each time around, we see some of them get their hearts broken until there is only one (wo)man standing. Then my mom makes us promise that none of us will ever sign up to find love on a reality TV show of any kind. Fine by me–I’d rather be behind the camera than in front of it.
The premise behind The Bachelor is honorable and well-intentioned, but how realistic is it for contestants to actually find lasting love? The sad truth is, not very. It is difficult for couples on the show to determine whether they are genuinely right for each other, or if they’re just being influenced by the factors that go into making a reality TV show entertaining and plausible to film. Here are some reasons why dating on The Bachelor isn’t the most realistic option if you’re looking for lasting love.
The accelerated timeline
Filming a season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette takes approximately nine weeks. If your friend showed up with her new significant other about two months into a relationship and announced that they were engaged, you’d probably be shocked and ask, “What’s the rush?” Nine weeks would be a short time even if you were focused solely on one love interest, but then factor in that the Bachelor/Bachelorette has to interact with 20 potential spouses during this time, and it seems like absolute craziness. How are you supposed to have multiple meaningful conversations and form strong connections when there are 20 people that you’re dating?
Former Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky revealed that the amount of time a show’s lead typically spends with the show’s winner adds up to approximately 72 hours. Three days is really not a lot of time to spend with someone before deciding to spend the rest of your life with them. In the real world, we can take our time and let things progress naturally, but on the show, snap decisions have to be made about your future with someone.
The extravagant dates
While I understand that that the producers of the show are trying to entertain an audience and help the Bachelor/Bachelorette find love, people in the real world don’t typically don’t participate in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot or enter a zero-gravity chamber on a first (or second, or even third) date. In the real world, we go a coffee shop or an ice cream parlor or maybe out to dinner; real dating for the average 20-something woman does not involve these expensive, meticulously plan shenanigans. Honestly, some of the more casual dates on The Bachelor are more complex than peoples’ proposals in the real world.
Compatability in their world doesn’t mean compatibility in the real world
Before presumably committing to someone forever, I’m sure that contestants and leads on the show talk about the big life choices and that these conversations simply don’t make it into the show, but being on the set of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is kind of like being on vacation. Sure, it does come with a certain amount of stress, but the stressors that a person faces as a reality TV contestant and the stressors that the same person faces in real life are not even remotely similar to each other. Two people may seem to be the “perfect” couple on TV, but there is no way of knowing whether they will be compatible when their real-world lives intertwine after the show. Will they support each other in tough situations and work as a team, or will they discover that they don’t handle things similarly at all?
Whenever I watch the first episode of each season and the hometown dates towards the end, I find myself wondering how the lead and the winner are going to make things work when they don’t live near each other at all–a likely scenario, because contestants come from all over. I get that this adds to the diversity of the cast, but is one person supposed to drop everything and move across the country after knowing their spouse for nine weeks?
You have no help from friends
Here’s a helpful hint to all of you guys out there, should you find yourself reading this article: women tell each other everything. Everything. If there’s a guy that I am seeing, even if we’ve only been on one date, my closest friends are going to hear about him. If I get an ambiguous text message from a love interest, my friends are going to help me decode it. If I need advice on how to tell a guy that I like him or don’t like him, my friends will provide advice, and I would do the same for any of them.
Anyone on The Bachelor is not allowed to use a cell phone or the internet, so there is no way to communicate with friends from home. Not to mention that your closest friends don’t get to meet your potential fiancé until the process is over and done with. Sometimes, friends can spot red flags before you can since you’re in your honeymoon-phase induced bliss and in the real world they’d be helping you out. The Bachelor/Bachelorette doesn’t really have anyone to talk things out with, and contestants can really only confide in each other… Which is awkward since they are all trying to win over the same person.
You have no help from family
While the hometown dates are a thing, a brief day trip with your future spouse is not going to provide an accurate read on whether they’ll get along with your family. You certainly do not need your family’s approval or their family’s approval, but things are much easier if the fiancé and the family get along, so while it may not make or break your decision entirely, it is an important factor to take into consideration. Family can play a large role in sharing your fiancé’s past, too, so if you’ve spent a lot of time with the parents (and siblings, and even extended family) then you will have a better understanding of your fiancé’s background. This doesn’t happen on The Bachelor.
While a few couples from the show have found true love and created lasting relationships, they are the exception and not the rule; of all of the pairings, only one couple from The Bachelor and six couples from The Bachelorette are still together. There have been 22 seasons of The Bachelor and 13 of The Bachelorette, so that isn’t a super high success rate. The shows are wildly entertaining and fun to watch, but if you’re looking for love, sending in that application to appear on ABC may not be the most practical way to find it.