Why The Bachelor Sets Women Up To Fail

Why The Bachelor Sets Women Up To Fail

Imagine a dating site that had ONE man on it.

Now imagine women voluntarily signing up to meet that ONE man and promising that — whoever he is — they WILL fall in love with him within 6 weeks.

Doesn’t matter if he’s short or tall or funny or interesting or kind or a good communicator. You sign up for this website, you’re falling for that ONE man, sight unseen.

That’s The Bachelor.

Once upon a time, I watched The Bachelor. It was a juicy diversion — a not-so-guilty pleasure for a newly married dating coach.

But eventually — after about 2 seasons — I stopped.

I wasn’t concerned about the exploitation. Hell, I was asked by a producer to try out for The Bachelor in 2007. I said no. If you choose to go on TV to find love, you don’t have much of a right to complain that the story editors are making you look bad.

I wasn’t concerned that the contestants never stayed married. Of course they never stayed married. The Bachelor and Bachelorette date for SIX WEEKS before the big proposal. You know how long they date exclusively before putting a ring on it? Not one second!

Men are at their best in dating when they are not forced to choose, but when they’re doing so by their own volition.

Could you imagine getting engaged to someone who wasn’t even your BOYFRIEND before?

We are talking about total strangers leaping off a cliff together like Thelma and Louise and expecting to survive. Girlfriend, please!

The main reasons I stopped watching The Bachelor were the following:

    1. It was too much like my day job. Listen, you couldn’t find a man who has more sympathy to women who are looking for love in all the wrong places. But given that I already spend 10 hours a day helping women make healthier dating and relationship choices, you couldn’t imagine how painful it was to watch this trainwreck of bad choices every single week. You could call it “What NOT To Do If You Want to Fall in Love” and it would be just as accurate a title. So yeah, no more than a doctor wants to diagnose your balky knee at a party, I really didn’t need to see any more poorly considered, irrational, emotional behavior after work.
    2. Everyone is set up for failure. It’s all too perfect. The mansion. The settings. The travel. The intensity. Of course you’re going to start to fall for The Bachelor. But are you really getting to know him? Are you really building trust and intimacy — knowing full well that he’s hooking up with a dozen of your friends simultaneously? Of course not. The Bachelor is a contest that brings out the competitive side of women. The actual identity and qualities of The Bachelor become incidental because it’s already been decided before anyone enters the house: whoever The Bachelor is, the contestants will fall in love with him. True love isn’t built on winning a horse race — nor is it built on six weeks of chemistry. True love is built on what happens AFTER the chemistry fades in a couple of years of dating. No Bachelor has a chance to figure this out before he’s expected to issue a proposal.
    3. The show inverts the way most men date. On the Bachelor, these men don’t pursue women. They are pursued. This doesn’t allow them to focus on winning over any one with their best behavior; if anything, it encourages them to sample everybody equally. Men are at their best in dating when they are not forced to choose, but when they’re doing so by their own volition. The very structure of The Bachelor takes away his agency as a man to choose on his own timetable. He’s forced into dating 25 women “equally” and voting them off on a weekly basis. This is unnatural and doesn’t produce anything resembling organic courtship behavior. Otherwise, we’d see a lot more helicopters and rose ceremonies in “real life.”

Feel free to watch The Bachelor for the cute people, the drama, and the fantasy. Don’t watch because you think that these couples are going to live happily ever after.

    4. The Bachelor gives a man way too much power, forcing women to become more competitive and needy than they would ever be. As a dating coach for women, my belief is that women are the “CEOs” of their own love lives. They get pursued by eager men who want to impress them and work hard to win them over. With 25 women competing for the same man, women are immediately forced to act like unpaid interns vying for a competitive job — the exact opposite of how a confident and powerful woman should conduct herself when dating. It should be no surprise it produces sub-optimal results — if not for the viewer — then for the women involved in the show.

Feel free to watch The Bachelor for the cute people, the drama, and the fantasy. Don’t watch because you think that these couples are going to live happily ever after. They’re not — any more than any two strangers who happen to meet on Tinder this week.

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  1. 1
    Elly Klein

    I’m surprised it’s taken you this long to write about The Bachelor, Evan, as it goes against everything you teach. Nice work! As you know, I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

  2. 2

    I’ve always thought that show is a joke. So misleading and a waste of a television slot. Oh and the pretentious  “love” that is  shown between the bachelor and some of the women makes me just shake my head. Unfortunately, many tune in so that’s why it keeps  coming back. Would love if they would cancel the show.  Cheesy is an understatement.

  3. 3


    “It was too much like my day job.”

    LOL!   I so get that.   I never watch medical shows;   Grey’s Anatomy, E.R., House.   I like my job, but when I leave work, I leave.   I watch TV to learn something or be entertained, not to watch all the ways Hollywood misrepresents what really happens in hospitals for dramatic effect.

    I watched the first half of the first year of the The Bachelor, I realize mostly because it’s the relationship equivalent of rubber-necking a car accident.   The premise and set up are completely unrealistic.   After a few shows, I realized I didn’t think the bachelor was very attractive.   He had a strange and annoying Eddie Munster eyebrow thing going on that didn’t do it for me.   So I couldn’t “willingly suspend” my disbelief and go with the show’s premise after that point.

    I agree with many that the show is exploitative and the participants are made to look foolish, vindictive, and vapid.   But they are consenting adults, and just because I wouldn’t sign up for that, and would advise others not to, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for people to do so.   However, I’m not going to feel sorry for the bachelors and the bachelorettes when they are unhappy with what went down on the show.

    1. 3.1

      @ GoWiththeFlow #3
      “I never watch medical shows;   Grey’s Anatomy, E.R., House.   I like my job, but when I leave work, I leave.   I watch TV to learn something or be entertained, not to watch all the ways Hollywood misrepresents what really happens in hospitals for dramatic effect.”
      Wait a minute; you mean that Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t accurately portray what really happens in hospitals? And there I was thinking that all hospital wards were continuously filled with the most ridiculous drama whilst always accompanied by an excessively lachrymose and nauseating soundtrack! Lol.

  4. 4

    I don’t even watch that show as a “guilty pleasure” sort of thing!   Ditto what you said Evan.   I’m not sure if the contestants even want him, per se, or just want to win.   It certainly isn’t a realistic or natural way to date.   At six weeks, the most we were ready for was meeting each other’s friends…and even that felt like a big step.   We certainly weren’t ready for anything more than that.

    Love for me hasn’t been rose ceremonies and helicopter rides.   It’s been my guy patiently tolerating my bad moods and runny nose when I was sick (when even I will admit I was no picnic to be around)…or giving me a hug and reassuring me that I’d be okay, after a bad day at the office.   Real love is being there for each other even during your worst moments, not just your best.   No, it wouldn’t make great TV, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

  5. 5

    I stopped watching those shows after ‘Rock of Love’ because those women made my stomach hurt.

    Any thoughts about the Bachelorette (a similar dynamic I’m guessing) or Tool Academy (where they actually tried to provide some relationship advice)?

    1. 5.1

      Seriously, there’s a show titled “Tool Academy”?

      When I moved a few weeks ago I cut the cable cord and now just stream a select few shows.   I see I’m not missing anything 😉

      1. 5.1.1

        There really was, you can stream it on Amazon or ITunes. I mostly remember it because when they kicked a guy off the show, they said something to the effect of: “You can’t seem to use the toolbox…because you are, in fact, a tool.” Still cracks me up!

        1. JB

          Tool Academy was hilarious….lol I miss that show. Yep, these guys were first class “tools”.

  6. 6

    I had no idea that somebody was taking that show seriously for anything else other than empty made up for entertainment. Apparently I was wrong..

    1. 6.1
      Just Saying

      This !!!! Repeat after me. It is entertainment. It is not real. It is all staged and contrived. You watch dating shows to learn about finding love the same way you watch Grey’s Anatomy to learn how doctors work and how hospitals are run.

  7. 7
    Emily, the original

    I prefer the Bachelorette, where the woman has all the power to pick from a slew of hunkazoids. Much more in line with my fantasies.   🙂

    1. 7.1

      Also I believe the only show of that brand that resulted in a long lasting relationship (in fact it’s the couple in the picture Evan used – so it’s actually a kind of ironic choice, it’s The Bachelorette not The Bachelor and the one time the show actually kind of worked!).

      But I agree, when it’s the woman choosing the power issue is a lot less icky. Okay, not that I’ve actually watched the show in a while, BUT I’m totally into  UNreal so it feels a bit like I’m watching the show in a way . . . 🙂

      1. 7.1.1

        Wait, why is it icky to have a bunch of women competing for the only available man, but it isn’t icky to have a bunch of men competing for the only available woman?   I don’t get it.

        1. GoWiththeFlow

          IMO it’s icky both ways.   Not to mention unrealistic!

  8. 8

    As long as Evan is reviewing dating/relationship shows I’d love to hear his take on…….

    The Bachelorette (She’s the CEO for awhile at least)
    Married At First Site
    Dating Naked
    Teenage Newlyweds
    Made In Heaven (African American Bachelor)
    Single Dad Seeking
    Are You The One?
    90 Day Fiancee
    Bachelor In Paradise
    Famously Single
    UnREAL (which is more “real” than The Bachelor.)

    I’m sure I’m leaving a few out but most are for entertainment purposes and make a mockery out of serious relationships/marriage etc….. but hey, who doesn’t want to be on TV in beautiful scenery with gorgeous people and an open bar?….LOL   The under 30 crowd eats it all up.

  9. 9

    I agree with this article. I do enjoy watching the Bachelorette, however. I often disagree with JoJo’s choices of men. My favorites were Brandon and Wells. I prefer  the more metro  hipster dudes. She likes the ultra-masculine muscle-head gym rats.   There’s a lid for every pot.

  10. 10

    I strongly agree with you, Evan. I NEVER watched the Bachelor, nor will I tune in for the rest of my life. I would hear stories on the news and social media that this couple went their separate ways, due to infidelity and insecurities. I don’t see the point on women wasting their time competing on a national television show for man who doesn’t want them. The Bachelor reminds me of Match Made in Heaven and For the Love of Ray J. There’s way too much competition, plus way too much sharing.

  11. 11

    I’m like GoWithTheFlow, I rarely if ever watch television; that being said, I’ll take a crack at this.

    >       T.V shows (The Bachelor): Rich, tall, handsome, successful, athletically built bodied man who takes women on incredible dates, has many options (desired by many other beautiful women), yet he chooses one as being special above them all-life with him is to be incredible, and her level of desirability is validated because of all the beautiful women (the other women being beautiful is very important) he could be with, he chose her.

    The flip side is shows aimed toward male audiences. Then the man is usually over-weight, at a lower working class job, middle aged, or a socially awkward but really smart nerd; both sets of guys have hearts of gold. They are either married to or somehow gets a woman who has a sexy body, beautiful face and may even have a higher paying/status job; yet she over looks his physical qualities because he has a heart of gold. Even if the couple has 4 kids, she still has the body of a swimsuit model. Quality as the less shallow sex is validated because she chose character of looks, his fantasy or desireability is validated because since he is a good hearted person he was able to win the love of a hot woman… who is not shallow and has a heart of gold.

    >       Romantic movie: Tall, handsome -sometimes- rich or at the very least upper middle class man with an athletically toned body, who takes the woman on an incredible date or preforms some incredible gesture to show how special she is. The woman is usually the one with many options, so the magnitude of the romantic hero’s gesture must be great to display how valuable she is in his eyes; there is usually a beautiful female or two thrown in just to show him choosing the female protagonist over other women-life with him would be incredible and her level of desirability (notice I didn’t say her looks) is validated because of all the beautiful women he could have had, he chose her and his incredible romantic gestures reinforce her level of desirability .

    >       Romantic comedy movie: The same as a romantic movie except the guy usually makes some huge mistake and has to spend the entire movie chasing (extreme courting) the women to convince her that life with him would be incredible.

    >       Romantic/love songs: The guy singing how beautiful the woman is, and how he would do such and such incredible romantic gesture to be with her, the woman singing about how special the man is because he did such and such incredible romantic gesture to be with her. When each gender that sings describes the other, the women is usually has a sexy body with a beautiful face. The man usually has a sexy body, with a beautiful face, is romantic and willing to spend money, effort, and time pleasing her.

    >       Relationship (self-help) books: Guys should prove to women that they are with the effort to him with incredible but socially acceptable gestures (risking public rejection by asking out a stranger, courting: trying to romanticize a stranger with entertaining dates and meals all out of his own pocket, the pressure of getting the date just right for a person whom he knows very little or shallow things of what they like or dislike and all while doing these things, he knows for a fact that she could still reject him so he risk never getting that time, money, or his effort back).

    I know to many this does not seem like an incredible gesture as in the books and movies. But at lest in my city most people don’t give pocket change to strangers asking for help with public transportation fare or offer to make up the difference for the stranger in front of you in line that may be a few dollars short or even offer some spare change to a homeless stranger. Most people are unwilling to stop and give directions to a complete stranger. So it could just be me, but the idea of spending so much time, money, and effort on a complete stranger with the risk of zero return seems incredible to me, but its taught that women should expect this from strangers without doing anything in return in the beginning except showing up with a smile… On the flipside Men are taught that women who don’t want to share their bodies with a stranger are prudes or femi-nazis.

    >       Romantic (love story) Book: non-physically descriptive but average looking woman encounters a tall, handsome, successful, rich, athletically built bodied man with lots of options; and though he could be dating models he chooses her. He then courts her with incredible romantic gestures and there is just something about her, his actions validate her desirability showing that she is just as, if not even more so wanted by quality men than the gorgeous -but of course vain, or mean, or dumb-models he could have-life with him is going to be incredible.

    >       Online Dating websites: Most studies show that women online prefer men who are tall, successful, rich, handsome, and willing to show that he will make incredible gestures to strangers (courting) that he has never met before. Both genders are expected to realize that the other person could be dating several different people while dating you, but the man is expected to compete with the other men with his level of courtship while the woman is expected to select the best option. The person most likely to provide them with the most incredible life wins.

    >       Relationship forums and blogs: Most men say they want the option to have sex with numerous beautiful women until they find love, and women say they want tall, successful, handsome, athletically toned body men, who are happily willing to court and romance them all while waiting until she is ready to have sex with him.

    >       Video Games: Since they are predominantly geared toward teenage boys and young men, the women are always slender and dressed very sexy, with a pretty face. The men vary from studs to duds, but his girlfriend, wife, or lover is always hot.


    My point is… The show The Bachelor is not that different from what our society demands of a romantic partner. I would say the only difference is that it focuses more on the shallow portions of what we demand from a future wife or husband, but not that much. In my opinion most men and women (especially women) talk so much about the inner qualities of a future partner because we don’t want to be seen (especially by own selves) as caring more about shallow qualities than about character. Personality matters but that is only after we decided if we are physically attracted to the person and (especially women) if their financial status meets our standards I think we are being moral snobs pretending that the actions of this show is beneath us when all of us know of people that at the same way toward dating.

    1. 11.1

      I realize that when I was describing tv shows I mixed up normal comedies with actual romantic comedy shows. In romantic comedy shows, the men are like the bachelor, handsome, at least average height, slender, and upper middle class. Willing to do incredible things to date a woman.

      Because the target audience of romantic tv shows are women, so more focus will be on the physical aspects of the male characters.

  12. 12

    The whole Bachelor concept is a failure.   Basically the Bachelor has an inflated ego. He is the “rooster in the hen house” so he can be as arrogant as he wants to be!   Besides, the ‘winner’ selected on the show might not actually be the right person for the Bachelor. It’s all set up to have a Barbie and Ken sort of look. If a woman was say black, considerably older or disabled, she’d never stand a chance on such a show!Even if I were the right age, race, and body type, I’d never go on such a show and humiliate myself!      No man is worth “competing” over like that.

  13. 13

    The one thing that puzzles me about The Bachelorette is that never at any time in ANY conversation I’ve ever seen ( which has been all that have been shown on TV) has any of them even mildly inquired about a man’s profession, education, or even what might of influenced their career decision or direction. Now I know she has “stat” sheets on every guy probably with exact details but in real life people talk about their career/job at least occasionally. Over the years their have been some guys with some goofy job descriptions besides the recent 33 yr. old erectile dysfunction expert. Another thing the show does is say what a guy “used to do or be” which doesn’t say what he does for a living NOW. Of course we all know The Bachelor doesn’t care what any of the women do or have done……unless of course they’ve bared it all for Playboy or something worse like being an argumentative alpha attorney.

  14. 14

    The Bachelors and Bachelorettes are embarking on a Journey ™. If they trust the Process ™ and are There For The Right Reasons ™, the Fairy Tale Ending ™ is the only possible outcome.

  15. 15

    Hilariously awesome! I forced myself to watch because of work people…but I can barely stomach an episode! The level the women sink to…is sickening.   No self loving woman would ever sink to that is she found out a guy was dating her and 20 other women…for sure if she had an ounce of self esteem she would turn heel and walk away! It’s purely for entertainment value….I get it…but still 6 weeks…someone shoot me if I ever accept an engagement ring after 6 weeks….he’d have to be prince @#$%&*! charming himself. ..and we all know he doesn’t exist…

  16. 16

    You could say the sane thing has happened to those who watched The Apprentice!    🙂

  17. 17

    AH! Would it be fair to characterize ‘The Bachelor’ (in his role on the show, anyway) as an extreme Alpha Male, the type of which the strong successful women are competing for?! Because of the changing dynamics of the world of work, with young women outearning young men, this is surely the way of things to come, right? If women all want to ‘date up’ a little, there’s no other option. I will watch this for sociological reasons henceforth:)

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