The Bachelorette Season 8

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25 men competing for 1 woman. All looking for true love. And all scheming against each other to be given the next rose, get the next date, win the Bachelorette’s heart.

After 16 seasons of The Bachelor and 7 seasons of The Bachelorette, you would think that people would be done watching. But they are enthralled more than ever as the 8th season of The Bachelorette begins. Emily Maynard, the single 26-year-old heartthrob, has captured the hearts of America as the newest Bachelorette. Her beauty, strength, and passion are making this season a huge success. And then there’s her tragic story: a single mother whose husband died in a plane crash only days before she found out she was pregnant. With a young daughter, she went searching for love on the Bachelor, only to win Brad Womack’s heart and get engaged. But it ended in disaster when the two broke off their engagement last year. Now, she’s back for round two to find her true love. And the men are ecstatic about this gorgeous, sensitive single mother. But of course, there’s the usual drama: group dates and one-on-one dates, secret rendezvous, men fighting and conniving against each other, tears and insults, all the men competing to spend the most time with Emily and fall in love.

So what is it that makes people so drawn to this show? In any other situation, a woman would never be able to date 25 men at once, all doting on her and her alone. Such a woman would be seen as a sleazy whore, not an American hero. Everything in our culture goes against this idea of dating and marriage. We are supposed to meet one person, date them, and eventually get married. There’s never a harem of girls/ guys to choose from. And finding true love is always a solitary pursuit, not a social game.

But The Bachelorette never comes under fire for this; dating 25 guys at once is seen as natural and all this is done in the hopes to find a successful relationship and eventual marriage. Like a fairy tale, the show is all about true love and finding soulmates. Emily has opened her heart to finding love again, and she expects to leave the show with the perfect man. Yet when you look at the history of other Bachelor and Bachelorette romances, hardly any have survived. Something always goes wrong, and the couple eventually breaks up. Why don’t these relationships ever work out? What does it take to make these love matches successful relationships?

  • Maturity: Unlike many of the Bachelor/ Bachelorette relationships, ideal partners need to be emotionally mature. Growing up is recognizing the destructive elements of our past and moving past them. Ideal partners should separate their past experiences from their new relationship, and come to this relationship with a strong sense of independence and autonomy. Many of these men and women have not matured emotionally, so it makes it harder for the relationship to succeed.
  • Openness: Being open and vulnerable is a key feature in a relationship. Although the Bachelorette always emphasizes this, it is rarely experienced on the show. Emily does not have much time to spend with each man, so each man tries their best to show her how open and vulnerable they are. However, these are hardly genuine as the guy is being forced to open up his heart without really engaging in true open intimacy.
  • Honesty and Integrity: Honesty builds trust between people, which is necessary for a relationship to flourish. Without honesty, there is no real communication, resulting in an emotional disconnect between partners. The drama and competition in The Bachelorette creates an environment where the guys will do anything to get the girl, including lying, cheating, and insulting each other. The relationships are not honest or filled with trust, and it can be hard to move past that.
  • Respect and Independence: Ideal partners are supportive of each other’s goals and sensitive to the other’s needs, wants, and desires. Although Emily encourages each man to be himself, the reality is that each loses himself to focus completely on her. The men do not have independent selves with wants and needs; it is all about fulfilling Emily’s desires.
  • Empathy: A person should be able to understand and empathize with their partner. Without that part in a relationship, each partner feels unseen and alone. Unless there is an attunement to how the other person is feeling, their wants and needs cannot be met. Emily tries to empathize with each man, but she is often unaware of the competition and drama between the men in the house. She is kept separate; thus, communication and empathy is often difficult in these relationships.
  • Affection: A good partner should be affectionate and responsive both physically and emotionally. They should feel uninhibited to give and receive affection and pleasure. Although Emily tries to show affection, she is self-conscious and inhibited in the presence of 25 other men. And when she does respond to one man, the others get jealous, resulting in a lot of tension. Thus, she is always questioning just how demonstrative she can be, so there is an absence of affection in many of these relationships.
  • Humor: In order for a relationship to succeed, it should not just be about serious things. There needs to be some humor and play involved. Couples who are playful and teasing seem to have the best relationships. Emily tries to do this by making the dates fun, but humor can’t be forced making it difficult to create easygoing joking and play in each individual relationship.

Although these seven features are usually lacking in Bachelor/ Bachelorette relationships, it looks like The Bachelor and Bachelorette have many more seasons to come before people recognize the ridiculousness of the show. People are fascinated by Emily’s quest to find love, and they will be eagerly invested in her relationships. Yet, as the season begins and the Bachelorette starts giving out roses, I can’t help but wonder if Emily stands a chance and whether her perfect romance will soon fade just as those before hers have.

About the Author

Yael Kent Yael Kent is a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara majoring in psychology and global studies. Yael is actively involved in intimacy and relationship research and works in the Close Relationships Lab for UCSB’s psychology department. Yael also works on campus at the UCSB Children’s Center and plans to pursue a Master’s in child development.

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