Raise your hand if you’ve contemplated your wedding to a guy you just started dating.
I am addicted to The Bachelor. I know, I know—it’s an easy target for jokes about terrible reality TV, but I watch it each week with friends, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Though I haven’t tuned in to all twenty seasons, I’m hooked on this one and find bachelor Ben Higgins completely adorable.
The best part of watching the show, however, is not seeing Ben be his lovable self; it’s laughing at the hilarity of the contrived romance. My girlfriends and I sit on the couch every Monday night rolling our eyes and snickering at the women who fawn over Ben and profess their love for him after one week. It sounds mean-spirited to find entertainment in the dating mistakes of others, and I suppose it is, but seriously, these women are doing it all wrong.
Recently, however, it dawned on me—these women have started to remind me of another single woman I know. Me!
Laugh as I may, I can’t deny making quite a few of the same dating mistakes that I’m poking fun at on The Bachelor. Unless you’re an alum of the show, you’ve surely never found yourself among a sea of women vying for the love of one guy in a totally unrealistic setting as the whole world watches, but nevertheless, love is love, and we’ve all found ourselves in familiar situations from time to time. And we’re all guilty of some of the same flirty faux pas.
Don’t believe me? Here is a list of seven dating behaviors from The Bachelor that I think you might find familiar.
1. Social Media Stalking
I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty as charged. It’s so easy these days to Google someone or scour through their social media platforms. But is that really a good way to go into a first date?
Rather than try to figure out everything about a guy from the Internet, let’s take the time to get to know him the old-fashioned way. I hope that a guy I’m dating would treat me with more respect than to use my profile photo or tweets to form his opinion of me. He deserves to be given the same respect.
2. Fairy Tale-ing
If I had a dollar for every time someone on The Bachelor uttered the words “soul mate” . . . seriously, though. Phrases such as “the one” and “perfect match” are thrown around constantly.
Yet again, I have definitely been one of those who fantasized about “the one” and hoped to find “the perfect guy.” But, I have come to believe that talk like that, especially when you have literally just met the guy, perpetuates the idea that a successful relationship should look like Prince Charming sweeping us off our feet. I like to refer to this kind of romantic talk as fairy tale-ing. And we’ve all got to give that thinking a rest.
It’s hard enough to figure out if you are actually compatible with the man standing in front of you without predestination getting in the way. Even The Bachelor commercials dub Ben “perfect”—which he has strongly denied. Kudos to him for calling out ABC. A real relationship takes hard work and commitment as well as the realization that neither party will ever be perfect.
3. Believing We Have Expiration Dates
I really dislike how so many of the contestants believe that they are running out of time to get married. They often seem to equate being single with being desperate and unworthy. That could not be further from the truth. The average age of the new Bachelor cast is 25 years old—whereas the median age at first marriage is actually 27 for women and 29 for men.
Hearing the women on The Bachelor worry about being old maids is a good wake-up call for me just the same. I think all of us, at low points, can start to believe the lie that if we are not married by age 30, our lives are a waste and love is hopeless. In the words of Verily’s editor in chief Kara Eschbach, let’s stop waiting for a ring and start living a great life.
4. Prematurely Planning The Wedding
Part of the ridiculousness of The Bachelor lies in that these women are all lined up to begin planning a wedding with a man they just met. Contestants aren’t just vying for a significant other; they’re vying for a spouse. That’s crazy!
Raise your hand if you’ve contemplated your wedding to a guy you just started dating. Or maybe you’ve tested out the sound of his last name with your first name?
Chances are, you can relate. When engagement and wedding posts flood our newsfeeds, it’s natural to think about our current relationship (regardless of how serious) in the same context. Let’s let the women of The Bachelor be a lesson to us all: Don’t put the cart before the horse! Time to put the wedding daydreams on hold and get to know the real man we are dating.
On the first episode this season, one woman says she thinks the best way to get over someone is to fall in love with someone else. Yeah . . . that’s called a rebound and probably the first lesson we learn in healthy dating 101. Cue heavy eye roll.
Still, even though I may know better, I myself have rebounded after a hard breakup. Though I didn’t date the new guy for very long, I realize now that it would have been better for both of us if I had taken the time to be by myself and heal. I hope that the contestants on the show aren’t using Ben as a rebound and, more importantly, don’t feel the need to jump right into someone else’s arms should they be left without a rose.
6. Focusing Solely On The 'Spark'
Anyone who watches the show can attest that there is entirely too much focus placed on “the spark”—that undefinable chemistry that happens when eyes meet across the room for the first time. Hate to break it to you ladies, but a spark does not a happy marriage make.
And yet, when I’m trying to decide if I should go on a second date, I find myself fixated on the chemistry from the first date. But the truth is, while attraction and a physical connection are definitely important, a man’s attractiveness and your first impression of him do little to dictate the success of your relationship.
If you’re not initially over-the-moon in love, that’s OK. Allow time for your connection to grow and develop. If you see qualities in him that are exciting to you, then give him a chance.
7. Analyzing His Every Move
Last week, I watched one contestant talk about the “secret language” she shares with Ben. So what are these signs that, she says, mean he’s in love with her? Well, supposedly he holds her for an extra second in a hug, and he pushes off her leg to get up from the couch. Puh-lease!
Although I haven’t gone so far as to say my beau and I have a secret language, I will confess to overanalyzing the littlest things about a relationship. And like The Bachelor women, I’ve spent way too much time theorizing with my girlfriends about what a guy is feeling. (I know I’m not the only one!) Now, I make a point to take things at face value and ask my guy directly what he is thinking and feeling if I’m in the dark.
So, now that we’ve all admitted to being a little more like those ladies vying for a rose than we may have previously realized, I can go back to my Monday nights devoted to wine and The Bachelor, at least for the next few weeks. But rather than laughing at the silliness of the show, I’m going to adopt a little less “holier than thou” attitude as I watch (OK, and maybe laughing a bit, too).
This article was originally published at Verily Magazine. Reprinted with permission from the author.