Reality Dating Finally Got Real

It was the final rose ceremony. Brad Womack had eliminated 23 women and was down to his final choice, Deanna or Jenni. The stage was set, each women looking beautiful and hopeful as she walked towards him and the future she envisioned would be waiting. First, he said a heartfelt and emotional good-bye to Jenni. Then came the anticipated final scene as Deanna came out and Brad quickly told her that he had said good-bye to her competition. We watched as her body language showed relief and happiness. Then, everything changed. Brad became quiet, tense and asked for a moment as he walked away and circled around- appearing to shake off a difficult feeling and clear himself for what was coming next. With much sincerity he told her how much he cared for her, but that he could not tell her he loved her- and because of this he had to say good-bye. She was shocked and tearful yet attempted to get some explanation from him as to why. He was only able to reiterate that his feelings were not enough. It was a shocking ending to anyone who had followed the show and heard Brad talk about his strong feelings for these two women he had spent 6 weeks with, nd shared friendship, fun and even intimacy with. So what happened?

The network got Brad, Deanna and Jenni together for an after episode to delve into and try to answer this question. Brad met onstage with each woman as they shared their hurt feelings and asked him to explain. He sat close to them, held each woman's hand and talked about how much they had meant to him- as he repeated his belief that he was sure he had made the right decision, even if he himself did not fully understand what had happened. He added that he believes he may need help to deal with a possible problem related to commitment and intimacy- and that he planned to get it.

Throughout the episode, women in the audience showed anger, frustration and disbelief towards his decision and several wondered aloud why he could not find that right women out of 25 beautiful, eligible ladies. Both Jenni and Deanna asked why he hadn't at least left open the possibility of something in the future by offering a rose, but no proposal. All good questions...

Is it possible that Brad's only real "problem" is that he did not feel a strong enough connection, and enough of the right chemistry to take it to the next level with one of them? I think it is very possible, and found myself reflecting on past matches through the show, and their dismal track record. It seems the producers were concerned about the same thing as they brought on the only couple who made it to the altar (with their new baby in their arms) and another couple who plan to get engaged "soon", but have not done so after over a year together.

We all know that reality dating shows don't truly reflect dating in the real world. Contestants are chosen by the show's staff, based on looks, age and other criteria only they really know. Then they are gathered together in an idyllic and controlled environment, where interactions are carefully staged and where producers manipulate and choreograph the scenes that are not left on the cutting room floor. Everything is provided and each "date" is carefully planned by the staff, not the contestants. There is no real world backdrop of career demands, financial constraints, bad days, conflicting schedules, and all the other realities that a single person contends with when they meet that new person and explore the possibility of a relationship.

In addition, there is that expectation that their "future husband or wife" is among this group, and that by making careful decisions they will find them. All the while there is fierce competition among the ones vying to be noticed and chosenand little real time alone with any of them--which all leads to behaviors and expressed emotions that may have more to do with theater than real life, even though the players are too caught up in the action to know if what they are feeling is real, or just a by-product of the part they have been chosen for.

In a way, this felt to me like art imitating life. How many people do you know who set out to have a relationship because all their friends are doing it, or they were a certain age and felt the pressure to hurry up before their choices for family were limited- or perhaps entered a relationship because they were afraid to be alone or had just come out of another relationship and could not handle the loss? All of these are considered bad reasons for moving towards commitment with someone, yet they fuel many relationships. So why are we surprised by the high divorce rate? It could also explain my mail and all those questions about great first dates or new relationships that fizzle without warning or explanation.

Maybe this other person was focused on finding a relationship, any relationship. Maybe they created an image in their mind of that right person, based on little real knowledge of or experience with them, only to discover that they were someone else altogether. Perhaps they moved too fast because they were running away from something, instead of running towards a real desire.

Maybe instead of vilifying Brad we should be praising him for his maturity, honesty and courage. Unless my intuition has gone south on me, I'd say he entered this with a genuine desire to meet that one right woman. His sincerity stood out--and I think he proved that he was the real deal when he resisted getting caught up in the show and instead, walked away alone and without what he had come looking for.

I don't think Brad needs "help" with a commitment problem. I think he needs to reflect on what he is looking for in a woman and take the time and necessary steps to meet, date and build a relationship with the kind of woman he seeks. His work hours are long and he spends most of his time managing his businesses, which are bars. He has said that he doesn't meet the kind of woman he seeks there. So Brad, if you are reading this, I'd like to congratulate you for not getting caught up in something that wasn't real and for following your convictions, even though they brought a lot of criticism and anger down on you and left you standing alone with that final rose.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"Why Not Average Joe: Exploring Melana's Choice"
List of more "Reality Dating Shows" articles

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Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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