07/29/2014 01:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

On 'The Bachelorette' Finale, We Learned That Sex Happens -- Even On Reality TV


"Let's talk about sex, baby." --contestants on "The Bachelorette," last night.

During the season 10 finale of "The Bachelorette," Andi Dorfman's heartbroken runner-up, Nick Viall, made a so-called "shocking" statement. On the July 28 live "After the Final Rose" special, he called out Dorfman for sleeping with him in the fantasy suite and then sending him home.

"Knowing how in love with you I was, if you weren't in love with me, I'm just not sure why you made love with me?" he asked.

"That's kind of below the belt, and I think that's something that should be kept private," Dorfman replied, proceeding to calmly explain that her respect for him and their relationship is what prompted her to end things before he even picked out a Neil Lane diamond.

Predictable headlines ensued: "Andi's shocking sex secret revealed," Fox News declared. But what is actually so surprising about the fact that a single woman slept with a man she was dating, and then decided it woudn't work out? Absolutely nothing.

Here are a few nuggets of truth:

1. Sex happens -- even on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." And yes, relationships where sex occurred can end a few weeks later.

2. There's nothing surprising or upsetting (and there shouldn't be) about consenting adults having sex when they're given a private hotel suite after dating for nearly two months.

3. A man is allowed to feel emotionally distraught over a sexual encounter that does not develop into the relationship he wanted.

4. Andi -- or any woman, reality star or not -- has no obligation to marry every man she has sex with. And not wanting to commit her entire life to someone just because she slept with him does not make her a "cavalier" person.

This isn't the first time "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" contestants have alluded to sex on the show, or admitted that it happened after the fact. It's simply the first time it's been spoken about directly -- a testament to the fact that the franchise has a whole bunch of "weird sex issues," as Slate's Willa Paskin termed them back in February.

"'The Bachelor' plays the prude, only ever speaking of sex in the most coded, vague terms, like a pimp who blushes at the word 'vagina' and claims his clientele are just playing cards," Paskin wrote.

For shows that never ever explicitly talk about sex, "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" are obsessed with dancing around the subject.

Season 16 "Bachelor" winner, Courtney Robertson, went sexy skinny dipping with Ben Flajnik, and recently confessed that, "Yes. Ben and I did have sex in the ocean. On-camera," in her book I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain. (She also alleged that the producers didn't provide condoms to contestants in the Fantasy Suites, which opens a whole other can of highly problematic, sex-negative worms.)

Clare Crawley had a similarly steamy ocean encounter with Juan Pablo on season 18, after which she was essentially slut-shamed, despite never actually admitting that sex occurred.

And Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici's sexless premarital relationship got so much attention that there was literally a camera focused on their presumably soon-to-be-utilized honeymoon suite during the entirety of their 2+ hour TV wedding.

There are certainly far better venues than national television, (like, probably anywhere else), to hash out one's heartbreak over a sexual encounter. But given that "The Bachelorette" is a show that at least purports to be about love -- true, long-lasting love, of which sex is nearly always an integral part -- the fact that it came up during a closure conversation shouldn't be "shocking."

For Andi and Nick, last night's sexy "bombshell" was an embarassing public moment that would have seemed quite mundane in private -- an incident bound to create overblown headlines and aghast looks from live audience members, possibly (probably) manipulated by the producers. But for those watching, it was revealing.

Dating and romance and love and lust and heartbreak... and sex... are often a package deal. It's about time we -- and our TV franchises -- got on board, no shame involved.

Leigh Blickley contributed reporting to this piece.

And The Final, Final Rose Goes To...
Josh "Former Baseball Bro" Murray. May they live happily ever after in perhaps-one-day-wedded, Atlanta-based bliss. Here's hoping those crazy kids make it work now that the cameras have stopped rolling.

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