What we can learn from The Bachelor

After many seasons of The Bachelor, viewers pretty much know what to expect--exotic, adventurous and expensive dates, lots of kissing and other PDA, serious alcohol use, at least one acting-out or hated woman in the group, and a small percentage of good matches. It seemed for a while that the couple left standing at the end had a better chance of being attacked by a shark than of ending up happily married. However, it seems those odds have improved a bit and it should be noted that at bachelor reunions contestants from all the seasons meet, mingle, and some even fall in love and marry.

Given the historically low percentage of successful matches, should we just write the show off as entertainment and leave it at that? Not so fast. Every season offers a new Bachelor and group of women competing for his affections. Along the way we get to see who stands out most and why, what women the Bachelor is most drawn to and the reasons he shares for this, those who make good first impressions than undo these as time goes by, what qualities each bachelor looks for, and why he ends up with that one woman at the end, or decides that no one in the group is the right one for him.

We also get to see how the environment plays a role in how their dates go--and what we can learn about someone's character by how they treat the other women in the house and how they behave on those often difficult group and two-on-one dates.

The most important take-away is when we compare the couple who ends up together with how they connected and related during the show to the reality of their life as a couple once the cameras are off and life has returned to normal. The following couples present a good sampling--so follow along as we look more closely at their relationship and dynamics pre and post show, what overlooked clues about the eventual outcome might have been there, and what lessons these can offer to anyone playing the dating game to win.

Brad and DeAnna and Jenni

During Brad's first try at being The Bachelor, he seemed to struggle with the process. His problem with commitment came up in a number of different ways, even though he did form an attachment to several women. Jenni, who was one of his final 2, was also the woman he gave the first impression rose to, so clearly the chemistry, rapport and good impression were there for him right from the start. She was a favorite through much of the season, and both their physical chemistry and friendship seemed to be there. Jenni came across as sweet and easy to get along with, and these qualities seemed very important to Brad. However there was also DeAnna who was smart, assertive, fun and very much her own person. Brad also related very well to her and found himself falling in like, lust, something, with DeAnna as well.

Therefore when it was time to choose one, he could not. He sent Jenni away first, then told Deanna he had done so, but that he had to say good-bye to her as well. DeAnna and bachelorettes everywhere expressed anger and confusion. Brad was labelled as a commitment-phobe, which he said he just might be.

My take? He was (rightly) confused by having such strong feelings for two women at the same time, and clearly, could not make a clear choice between them. Perhaps he should have been praised for taking his stand and not going through the motions when he really wasn't sure. He really liked those two women and had feelings for both of them, but for him something was missing or just not enough. Brad did not give in to the temptation to pick one, then break up later as so many Bachelors have done. It wasn't the happy ending everyone wanted, but it was genuine. Kudos, Brad.

Jason and Melissa

Jason seemed to enjoy his season. He was the good guy, single father who was looking for that right woman for him and someone who would be a great step mom. It was easy to send home all those women who did not come across as Mom material, and as the season wore on, it came down to Melissa and Molly.

Remember the episode when he blindly kissed some of the women? It was Molly who he named the best kisser. He loved the way Melissa interacted with his son and apparently saw her as goo Mom material, and he was attracted to her and felt a comfort and friendship.

However, in the lead up to the final Rose Ceremony, Jason was sobbing over his decision. It was clear that whoever he was choosing meant he was saying good-bye to someone who had definitely won his heart. He choose Melissa, they lasted a couple of months, and then he broke up with her on TV and is now married to Molly.

My take? Both had qualities he was seeking--he was comfortable with them, felt a strong physical attraction, and with Melissa, seemed to think she might fit better in the role of step mom. It seemed his decision was more from his head then his heart. But as time wore on, he realized it was Molly he was in love with and he had to break Melissa's heart to make the relationship happen. The take away here is to be careful not to talk yourself into the decision to be with someone. If there are doubts, trust your gut and take a time out.

Brad (second time around) and Emily

In this second Brad season, what emerged was Brad the rescuer, not Brad the commitment-phobe. Brad was clearly attracted to several of the women, really clicked with a few--but when he heard Emily's "story" about her fiance being killed in a plane crash, he seemed determined to rescue her. When his background came out in past episodes, single mom, dad who abandoned the family--this all makes sense. Strong, independent women can be very attractive, but for Brad, the need to swoop in and save seemed to override any other attractions.

My take on why it fizzled in the end? Emily presents as very sweet, demure and almost delicate, but she is one strong, tough woman. Emily didn't need a rescuer, she needed someone who would challenge her and be a good match to her personality. This isn't what Brad signed up for--even if he took on the role unconsciously, he must have been surprised with who Emily turned out to be. She referenced his temper when they appeared at the after the final rose ceremony, and it was clear that conflict was an issue for them. They tried a couple of times, but since their expectations of who the other really was didn't line up, it would never have worked.

Jake and Vienna

Jake and Vienna ended up a classic case of incompatibility... Indeed, many viewers were shocked when "good guy" Jake chose (bad girl) Vienna. On the surface, she seemed not his type at all. Yes, the physical attraction was there, they related well on their show date--but a couple of times, Jake's frustration and annoyance with Vienna on the show did come through.

However, it's not clear that any of the other women would have been a better match for him. Many had the qualities of attractiveness, sincerity, personality, and intelligence that Jake said he was looking for. However, the problem might have been Jake all along.

After the show's end and the famous falling-out between them, it turned into a
he said, she said. It was hard to decipher the real truth from their accusations and portrayals of one another. However, my take away was that even though Jake presented himself as a true-blue boy-scout looking for love, he had another agenda all along. Apparently he took a break from his career (pilot) and tried to get a start in Hollywood. Vienna followed along for a while, but insisted he didn't want what she wanted right from the start and that the relationship was miserable because of it. Jake accused her of being the selfish, status and fame seeking one, but she adamantly denied it. What we do know is that Jake has started a new career in Hollywood and also does venture capital investments. He is still single, so clearly finding a mate was not at the top of his list of priorities.

Ben and Courtney

Talk about a mismatch. Clearly Ben was very physically drawn to Courtney, even though there were many other girls who were at least as attractive, and more so than Courtney. However, she had a strong sense of self, was able to present as very sweet and demure--and essentially was accused of being one person in front of the other women and another in front of Ben. Courtney was there to win, and when this became apparent during the airing of the show, Ben and Courtney had their first break-up. He was furious with how she had misrepresented herself to him. However, one has to wonder why he fell for it as the other women did drop hints and all had trouble getting along with her.
So we know that looks were important to Ben. It was clear he also liked her career (model) and the lifestyle she led because of it. He seemed drawn to her vanity and narcissism, mistaking it for high self-esteem. In the process, he overlooked some very cool women.

My take is that Ben was looking for the "perfect" woman, that his goals were probably not realistic and/or that he just wasn't ready for relationship, commitment and real-life with one woman. He continue to be single and was recently rumored to be dating Kris Jenner.

Sean and Catherine

Sean and Katherine just celebrated their first anniversary and by all accounts are a happy, well-match pair. What is interesting is that Katherine did not emerge as an early favorite and in fact, Sean seemed to be more drawn to several other women. Katherine was sweet, quiet and very much in the background through much of the season. When they were shown together, they appeared to relate very well as friends and to really enjoy being with one another. Clearly, this was a quality Sean was looking for in a future partner. They also seemed to be on the same page with lifestyle and family goals and both were ready for marriage.

My take is that Sean was probably a bit seduced by and taken with all those beautiful bachelorettes, exotic dates, and fairy-tale environment for at least some of the show. After all it would be hard not to be. But Sean clearly knew what he wanted and was able to recognize it when it presented itself. Seems like they got lucky and used their heads as well as their libidos to find love.

Chris and ?

Chris was clearly drawn to Britt, right from that first impression rose. She is sexy, intense and fun--and with her, Chris seemed to feel a certain energy. That would come in handy miles from civilization is a town of 4oo people.

Chris's comments throughout the season show us how important physical chemistry is to him. He clearly is also looking for a small-town and "simple" girl who could thrive on the farm. He thought jade might be the right package--she came from a small town in the Midwest (but not that small), has the right values, and is a beautiful woman. However, her pictures in playboy and sexy videos shattered the small-town values image and she was eliminated. Britt still had him in her sway until she threw a hissy-fit over another woman getting the rose on the group date. What the other women had been seeing, Chris was treated to. His attitude towards her the next time they met when she attempted to explain and take it back was very revealing. He was quite turned off and there was nothing she could say.

There is something about Becca- an innocence perhaps? Indeed, she told him she is a virgin and is very inexperienced in love. Apparently he is drawn to her sweetness and innocence, but fears the passion might not end up being there or perhaps that Becca just won't turn out to be a passionate partner. But she is beautiful and interesting and he just couldn't let her go, yet.

Clearly Kaitlyn offered much of what Chris is looking for, A great friend, down-to earth, roles with the punches--and is a pretty woman he enjoyed being with. However, the chemistry was not as strong for him with Kaitlyn as it was with Becca. He agonized over this, but went with his gut, even though he mentioned to Chris H. that Kaitlyn would be a great catch for any guy.

So who will he choose in two weeks? Whitney has been a clear favorite all along, smart, solid, fun, and looking to be a wife and mother. He is also clearly attracted to her. It feels as though his physical pull is stronger towards Becca, so what qualities will he go for? I think he will choose Whitney because she has clearly stated and shown him that she wants what he wants, and Becca continues to be an uncertainty. Chris is nothing if not practical and very ready to find a wife.

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Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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