Last night I lost my virginity to a guy named Ben... my "Bachelor" virginity that is. After managing to avoid the show for all 15 previous seasons, I was asked to watch and respond with "lessons learned" from this current season. Frankly, when given my mission, I chose to accept it with the heart of a cynic: I thought I would learn nothing and have to make some things up. Instead, I found a road map of things to not do when looking for love, on or off the television screen.
This show was a revelation! Not because these women were particularly "crazy" or tawdry or anything like that... But because, when put into the science experiment that is "The Bachelor" they exhibited all of the worst behaviors I, myself and friends of mine have shown while hunting for love. And because it was so recognizable, it was so very hard to watch. Here are three short lessons from last night's episode:
1. BEWARE: We can convince ourselves of ALMOST anything: The episode started out with Kacie B. on her first private date with Ben. After the first leg of the date she was proclaiming to have found a "real connection" and felt that he could "be the one". He then opened up to her about his recently departed father, and she was confident that he really "connected and shared" with her. This, she was certain, was evidence of a unique bond. I've done that. I've had friends that have done that. A good conversation to a pre-orchestrated (and kind of creepy) slideshow doesn't equal a soul mate. But, when given the right circumstances, when it comes to love, one can convince one's self of almost anything. In fact, I was reminded of this later in the evening when watching a promo for "Surviving Surburbia" where the pre-teen daughter excitedly squeals to her mother "Mommy, a boy likes me!" and the mom says "Great. Do you like him?" Which is met by wide-eyed blinking and the response: "Wait. I don't get it." This, to me summed up the entire premise of "The Bachelor."
2. Keep Your Pool Wide. While all of the women were supposedly desperate to find "real love" and "romantic connection", they all seemed to have committed themselves to a process that defied the odds of that ever possibly happening... In fact, one might argue that appearing on "The Bachelor", while great for parlaying a chance to be on "Dancing with The Stars "at a later date, is actually taking yourself off of the market to meeting the most people and possibly finding a true connection. Setting aside the fact that these girls are also looking for modest Reality fame, there is a larger lesson here. How many times have I myself (or I'm sure some of you readers) found myself committing to one guy or method of meeting people with such voracity that I actually closed myself off to other opportunities? I would love a plot twist where one girl, in keeping her options open, actually falls for the camera guy and walks off with him during the Rose Ceremony (oh wait, this did happen one season!)
3. Keep your crazy to yourself. At least for a while. A good rule of thumb for most interactions is to keep gossiping to a minimum with people you don't know, as it usually just makes you look angry and crazy. In my experience, this is particularly true with male-female relationships. The man almost never sees how " awful" the person you're hating on is, and in turn you look crazy. Chris Rock had an awesome skit about this years ago in which his wife's co-worker was "Trying to Destroy Her!" So, why these women who barely know Ben the Bachelor are yapping his ear off about how horrible Blakely is was simply beyond me. Not attractive. Similarly, if you are emotionally disturbed and suffer from terribly low self-esteem, try to not show that off during your first "date". Nothing sells quite like confidence, and nothing says "thanks, but no thanks" quite like pointing out all your flaws to your intended love. Again, I'm certain that I've done these things at some point in my dating life... it was just interesting to see them at a distance.
I could go on about lessons learned in cocktail attire, kissing on first dates and acting appropriately in front of children, but for now I hope this suffices. Stay tuned: Next week, San Francisco.