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.