So I have a confession to make. I have been watching The Bachelor this season. I know! For those of you who know me well and know my views on love, this is a shock.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. Most of my friends are married. So I don’t have much experience with the modern dating world and particularly not the secular dating world. But I am a Romance novelist and need to gather material from somewhere. Being a Christian novelist, it would be nice if I encountered a Christian version of The Bachelor, but given the content and the amount of heart-breaking, nearly degrading scenarios of the one on TV, I doubt a Christian version would exist. If it did, the ratings would not be nearly as high, I’m sure, because the material would not be as scandalous or cut-throat.
I actually watched a little bit of The Bachelorette last year, which kind of made me sick to see multiple guys hitting on one woman and her reciprocating. I also watched and enjoyed a show called Love in the Wild, which was a show where they paired up former Bachelors and Bachelorettes in outdoor competitions with the hopes that they would fall in love. Many of them did. My first TV program like this to watch was Outback Jack a few years ago and it was so cool that he picked the girl I hoped he would. So I thought I’d give The Bachelor a try this season.
For those of you who have never watched The Bachelor or its counterpart, The Bachelorette, the premise of the show is to take a lonely, successful, eligible (by the world’s standards) bachelor and present him with a houseful of women from every walk of life and have him pick one of these women to propose to at the end of the season. This doesn’t mean they necessarily get married but they usually do move in together and “try it on for size” so to speak. God bless this man because from the moment there is more than one woman in that house, the claws and daggers come out. The wine flows freely, the innocents gets ripped to shreds, the evil-doers rise to the top and somehow fool The Bachelor, and the competition has only begun.
The timid fail to express their feelings for this man whom they do not really know and they are eliminated because they don’t open up. But who wants to open up to a man who spends one-on-one time with twenty something other women and potentially tells each of them how special she is to him?
In an effort to win his affections, the shy girls try to come out of their shells, the less experienced ones try to play the part of a seductress (all the while looking like a little girl in high heels), and the experience-rich women will go to any lengths to get that coveted rose at the end of the night. The Bachelor kisses them all and breaks the rules with some of them by sneaking off to private locations… and hearts get broken.
So I definitely have learned a lot about what a woman will do to win The Bachelor. For some it’s about love. For some it’s about finding themselves again after experiencing a previous terrible relationship. For others it’s about winning.
It’s hard to tell if love really has much to do with it or if it’s just the glamour of the exotic locations, candles, wine, and the ever-present cameras.
The Bachelor seems confused most of the time and if only he would listen to us as we shout at the TV, he wouldn’t make a mistake or crush these other fragile young women in his wake. Oh wait, this is all pre-recorded. Duh!
He confuses physical attraction for love and often does not think with his head or his heart when making decisions. In the interviews with him, he seems to say the same things about each of these ladies. He can see himself with them. He’s falling in love with them. Blah, blah, blah.
And the women! They want so badly to be chosen. For whatever their individual reasons, whether to find love or just to win, they want to be picked. But he can’t pick them all. That is a different show where the man has more than one wife. No, The Bachelor has the grueling task of narrowing things down to one woman.
And each week, as these girls are sent home, even the mean ones and the crazy ones, there is a part of you that remembers that feeling of rejection. What it felt like to be told, “It’s you. Not me.” That is, if you got told anything. I once had a boyfriend sing Freebird to me over the phone while he was drunk and away in another state at college. And it took me two weeks and a long distance bill from his collect phone calls to realize he had been breaking up with me. By the way, I was a Christian AND a preacher’s daughter, so I knew better than to give my heart to a guy like that. Shame on him because he was a preacher’s son. Shame on my preacher daddy for not setting the bar a little higher for the type of guys I was allowed to date.
Watching the girls pull away in the limousines crying their eyes out brings tears to my eyes. And The Bachelor is devastated to have to part with yet another one of his lovelies.
Somehow miraculously though he recovers quickly and finds the strength to wine and dine and kiss and snuggle with the ladies the next week. Funny how when money is no object and when America is your audience, you can pull yourself together.
Now I am not discounting the bachelor’s feelings. I’m sure he’s really looking for love. And I think the girls are too. But I have to wonder how much of what we see is really real and how much is embellished for the camera. Would those girls act that brazenly in a real life situation?
A bigger question that pops into my head is: how many single girls out there mimic these girls when trying to catch a man? How many put themselves in bars or even church situations on a nightly basis and throw themselves at men who wouldn’t pursue them honorably if they were a bloody seal and the man was a killer whale. These men don’t have to pursue when women feign all over them.
My heart breaks for the women on The Bachelor, for The Bachelor himself, and for all the singles who want love. What they really search for is the eternal love of Jesus. For those single Christians out there who already know that love, they long for a companion who shares their same beliefs and values. But it is nearly impossible to sift through all the facades to find the genuine person deep down inside–the person who deserves love, the person who won’t hurt you, who isn’t out to get a piece of you and then dump you.
So this blog post isn’t an answer to the quandary. It’s just an observation of what I see on TV and in the world around me. I’ve enjoyed watching the show–for research purposes, of course. Hopefully, my future characters will be as complex and multi-faceted, deep and shallow, unpredictable and predictable as the “characters” on The Bachelor. And hopefully they will all eventually find true love.
Originally blogged February 29, 2012