Monday, August 9, 2010

What Can We Learn About Choosing from The Bachelor/Bachelorette?

What are we going to do about The Bachelor/Bachelorette?

Here we go again. We have a beautiful new couple that is the result of the ABC TV series, The Bachelorette. The country is on pins and needles. Will they last longer than six months or will we soon be hearing horror stories of post-limelight breakup? Idealized fantasies of love and romance die hard. I suppose that is why so many millions tune in and can immediately put faces to the names “Ali and Roberto” … or “Trista and Ryan” or “Vienna and Jake.”

The Bachelor shows are an idealized version of the dating and mating dilemma. Dating is a necessary step in the formation of couples and eventually families, so why not do it on national TV if one gets a chance? I only wish the contestants were required to read John Van Epp’s How To Avoid Falling In Love With a Jerk prior to taping. Clearly they don’t, though, because most of the relationship lessons found in the Bachelor shows are about what not to do.

For example, our most recent blissful couple: Jake, the Dudley-do-right airline pilot from Texas. He was our hero, the last of a dying breed of good guys. Jake, old boy, I thought we could count on you to choose a woman who was ready to be cherished. What happened? He chose the woman who gets my vote as “the hottie least ready to take home to your mother” that the show has ever produced, Vienna. Now, how did the discerning viewer predict the short-lived nature of this romance? Among many conspicuous concerns, Vienna was hated by all of the female contestants with whom she shared the house. She even seemed to enjoy being hated and cared only about winning. This leads to the first rule for ordinary, non-TV couples: Crowds have wisdom. If everyone in your circle hates the person you are dating, chances are good they see something to which hormones are blinding you.

A second glaring issue presented in living color by Vienna: she had no girlfriends in the house. If you are with a person who has no same sex friends, he/she will probably have a very narrow way of dealing with stress when it hits. Strong friendships outside of your marriage ultimately protect your relationship from unnecessary pressures.

I’m sure that we will get back to The Bachelor/Bachelorette later. It is my favorite reality train wreck, and I simply can’t help watching. For now, the message is this: when you are choosing a partner, do so carefully. I usually see couples when they are disillusioned with marriage. A great deal of pain could be avoided by paying more attention up front.

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