Why Relationships On “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” Aren’t That Different From Real Life

Why Relationships On “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” Aren’t That Different From Real Life

The beautiful people tend to win.

Notice how the best-looking suitors are always the ones who make the final rounds? Does that remind you of any non-televised situations you may have encountered in your life?

They’re public.

You may not have cameras hovering over your shoulder when you pop the big question, but relationships—at least, serious ones—are inevitably public. If you’re serious about someone, people are going to see you together and have views about what’s going on and share them with each other and (sometimes) with you. You can try to ignore all of that, but good luck.

There are other people involved.

On The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, contestants play engagement chicken—”falling in love with” multiple people at once, right up to making out with two different people the night before they become engaged to one of them. That’s a little extreme, but in real life you know damn well that you’re not the only person in the world your significant other could ever possibly be interested in. The desperate nervousness of those two finalists is an amplified version of what everyone’s feeling as their relationships become more serious. Will he/she choose me? Forever?

They happen in artificial settings.

No, you probably haven’t had wine and cheese in a gondola parked en route to the Matterhorn, but you’ve definitely created artificial little scenarios meant to create a sense of drama and romance. Ever taken a date to a candle-lit restaurant? Brought a picnic to a lakeshore park? Kept a red lightbulb in your nightstand drawer?

People fall in love despite themselves.

The popular consensus on Courtney, the woman who was chosen by Bachelor Ben in the most recent season of The Bachelor, was that she was manipulative and cold-hearted. But those sure looked like real tears she was crying when she and Ben went on air, months after the episodes were filmed, to reaffirm their engagement after a temporary separation and seeming betrayal. No one ever accused Courtney of being naïve about men, relationships, or reality TV…but there she was, in love despite herself. Sometimes that’s how it is: you know the game is rigged, you know it’s all a big show, you know it’s risky, and you know it’s all kind of artificial, but you put your heart on the line anyway. That’s The Bachelor, and that’s life.

Jay Gabler