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The Bachelor vs Reality

The Bachelor vs Reality

Next week we’ll find out which woman gets Pilot Pete’s final rose. For 24 seasons, fans have followed along as woman after woman competes to get from one rose ceremony to the next, each one hoping she wins the prize — a televised proposal complete with a ginormous Neil Lane diamond. 

It’s one thing to watch shows like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette as escapism junk TV, knowing there’s not much reality to this reality television. But it’s a whole other thing when we get caught up in the mania and begin to expect real-life dating or relationships to be anything like these shows. I mean – how can our date to the bowling alley really compare to that table for two on a private island? 

So let’s face it — dating on The Bachelor isn’t really anything like dating in real life. How are they different? Let’s count the ways — 

The Bachelor 

You’re constantly vying for the man’s affection while 25 other women are also doing their best to gain his attention. Interpretive dances, cringe-worthy rap songs, even showing up in a wedding dress — these women will do anything to get the bachelor’s attention. 

Reality

If a man makes you feel like you have to compete with other women to win his affection, then he isn’t ready for a relationship. At all. You deserve to feel like you’re the center of a man’s attention and affection. In a healthy relationship, you’ll feel secure. You won’t have to worry about another woman back-flipping her way onto the scene and stealing attention away from you. 

The Bachelor 

Hair and make-up artists are standing around ready to make you always look polished and TV-ready. Your wardrobe is chosen by stylists. Even that just-woke-up look is carefully orchestrated. 

Reality

You wake up with bedhead and bad breath. Your fraying pajama pants may not even match your pajama top. You get sick, and your nose is runny. Some days you’re bloated and don’t want to get out of your stretchy pants. We don’t always look ready for our close-up. And we certainly don’t have professionals styling us and primping us around the clock. In real relationships, we see each other all dressed up, looking our best, and we see each other on our bad days, barely holding it together. 

The Bachelor 

The dates are extravagant, over-the-top events. Helicopter rides, private concerts, secluded beaches, and entire Nascar tracks may be involved. Producers create high-emotion moments to speed up the falling-in-love feelings. Of course, this makes for great television, but it certainly isn’t reality. 

Reality

Obviously, very few of us will be wooed by a private Backstreet Boys concert or taken on a naked bungee jump in a foreign country. Our fancy dates may be dressing up in that cute outfit we found on the Target clearance rack and going to the local Red Lobster. And that’s OK. That’s real life. Jetting around the world on grand adventures isn’t how dates work in real life for most of us. 

The Bachelor 

The editing process is a total thing. Everything we see on TV has been edited for maximum entertainment value. Some moments are recorded a second time if the first take wasn’t perfect. All the mistakes, the boring parts, the not-good-TV moments are cut out, as if they never happened. 

Reality

We don’t always get a do-over, a second take. The missteps and mishaps are part of what make up our stories, and couples in a healthy relationship learn to navigate the missteps together. When we mess up or when our partner makes a mistake, we have to choose whether to forgive and move forward in grace or whether that mistake is a deal-breaker. In our real lives, we can’t just delete the bad scenes and choose not to include them in the final edit. 

The Bachelor 

Contestants on the show are removed from their everyday lives and plopped into this fantasy world with strangers they can’t really trust. The stress of their normal lives is gone, but so is the support of their network of friends and family. The contestants are making huge life decisions with very little input from the important people in their lives — the brief home visits don’t give the families or friends much time at all to know enough to give good advice. 

Reality

When we’re dating and considering someone to be a potential marriage partner, the input of our family and friends is vital. Our families and trusted friends need to spend lots of time with our significant other because sometimes they’ll notice red flags we won’t pick up on. We also want to see how well our boyfriend or girlfriend fits in with our people — how a partner meshes with our family dynamic or fits in with our friend group. 

The Bachelor

Couples go to the fantasy suite with no discussions about sexual history or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Though we’ve seen a few people wrestle with the decision about whether or not they should have sex, for the most part, it’s a given that this is part of the show, part of the process. And it’s assumed that the bachelor is having sex with each of the women he takes to a fantasy suite. That’s three women in one week. 

Reality

In real life, we have the right to expect an exclusive, monogamous relationship with anyone we’re choosing to have sex with. We can choose that sex isn’t part of proving ourselves worthy of being selected. In real life, we can decide that sex comes after we’ve already decided to commit to someone – not as some sort of audition for the role of girlfriend. And we can protect ourselves from infections or disease by having conversations about sexual history and by testing ourselves and insisting any intimate partner is also tested first. 

So real-life dating may involve fewer helicopters, fewer sequined gowns, and fewer limousine rides. But hopefully it involves more respect, more acceptance, and more authenticity. And genuine, healthy relationships are worth more than all the long-stemmed roses in California!

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