I’m going to come right out and say it: I haven’t watched very much of The Bachelorette this season. And by “very much” I mean “absolutely nothing.” But don’t worry, the good news is that I can still tell you everything that’s happened up until tonight, when Ashley Hebert visits the hometowns of four potential fiancées:
Sweet and cute 20-something Ashley narrowly misses winning the heart of perpetual Bachelor and a**hole Brad Womack. Heartbroken and stunned, Ashley is offered another chance at love on The Bachelorette. Producers sit down to screen a group of tall, muscled men with white teeth and a penchant for over-achieving and talking about their feelings. Producers also sit down to screen a group of tall, muscled men with white teeth and a penchant for being douchey and talking about their feelings. Ashley meets both groups of men.
After two weeks Ashley inevitably “falls in love” with one of the douchey ones, producing annoyance in the over-achievers. Ashley continues to go on elaborate and over-the-top dates conveniently arranged by producers. Ashley is wooed with phrases like “I want to guard your heart” and “I want to be your rock.” Amid a whirl of tears, ball gowns, roses, and desperation, Ashley makes the hardest decision of her life and narrows the men down to four.
The ratings season after season don’t lie: The Bachelorette is vastly entertaining. But it’s entertaining in the same way as a cheap romance novel - incredibly unrealistic, dramatic, and fantastical. And while most women would never take love advice from His Majesty’s Temptation, I’m not convinced that some women so easily dismiss The Bachelorette. Sometimes I get the nagging feeling that women across the country are collectively sighing and wishing they could walk on the beach, contemplating love in the opening scene of their own primetime summer special.
So, in an attempt to make The Bachelorette educational and informative for the right reasons, I’ve created a list of rules to follow if you want to find true love and have a successful relationship. And since almost every single Bachelor/Bachelorette relationship implodes a few months (or weeks) after taping ends, we’re going to do things the proper way opposite of The Bachelorette.
Be the opposite of desperate. Every single Bachelorette was originally rejected by some Bachelor. Before that, they usually had a sob story about how many relationships have failed them in the past. They come into their own show so eager to fall in love with someone that they jump at any guy who looks them in the eye and oozes, “I think I’m falling for you.” They then proclaim to be “in love” after two weeks, and are surprised when the same dude “suddenly leaves” the show. The opposite of desperation is confidence. Confident, self-assured, discerning women don’t cling to unworthy men because they’re eager to be in a relationship. They hone their BS detectors and really get to know men before making such giant leaps.
Be the opposite of needy. Everything on The Bachelorette totally plays up the whole “damsel in distress” and fairytale routine: the elaborately romantic dates, the absurdly handsome and charming men, and the Bachelorette herself, who stands waiting for the men to sweep her off her feet. It emphasizes the antiquated notion that people can’t be happy without love and a relationship, and that the sole provider of your happiness should be another person. Sure, love makes us really happy and it’s very fulfilling. But we’re also capable of being happy and fulfilled on our own. In fact, healthy relationships don’t exist if one person is needy and clingy; it throws the relationship completely out of balance. The opposite of needy is independent. You should have friends, activities, and interests that are uniquely yours, regardless of relationship status. A relationship is one part of your life, not your whole life.
Be the opposite of an idiot. I’m kidding! Kind of. Listen, every single Bachelorette spends eight weeks getting to know a bunch of men who a few producers selected not for her, but for the sake of ratings and entertainment. She whittles these men down to two, has sex with both of them in the Fantasy Suite, then accepts a proposal from one of them. After eight weeks. All of which, mind you, has taken place in a completely ridiculous array of exotic locations, on dates and excursions set up by other people. The whole thing is a complete whirlwind, and it feeds every insecure Bachelorette’s dream that her life really can be a fairytale, and she really can be “saved” (what exactly does she require rescue from, anyway?) by a charming prince.
Need I point out that none of this, in any way, reflects real life? I’ve pontificated before about people getting engaged way too soon, so that’s old hat. But what about agreeing to marry someone after you haven’t been simultaneously dating ten other dudes? Is that too much to ask for? What about spending time with them in realistic situations, on realistic dates? What about meeting their family for more than a few hours on camera? How about just knowing their birthday, middle name, favorite pet or where they went to high school before marrying them? Only an idiot agrees to marry someone without knowing a thing about them.
So be smart. Get to know people - their habits, their quirks, their temperament, their family, their friends, their work, their feelings about children, their relationship with money - before agreeing to marry them. Oh, and maybe wait longer than eight weeks before accepting a proposal to, you know, ensure that 50 years from now you’ll still like them and want to be married to them. That’s kind of important.
I apologize to those of you who have never, and would never, take The Bachelorette seriously. But for those of you who are guilty of wishing some of The Bachelorette’s magic would grace your own life, just go ahead and pretend it’s Opposite Day forever.
Each week in "Relationships by Rachel," TMR columnist Rachel East tackles relationships in all their blissful, heartbreaking and mind-boggling glory.