Traditional dating dynamics might sound outdated, but they exist for a reason. Nonetheless, modern culture insists on rejecting them. Reality television is no exception.
Whether you never miss an episode or you’ve sworn off reality television forever, I’m sure you’re familiar with The Bachelor, the show where dozens of women vie for the heart of one lucky man. It’s a recipe for all the love, all the drama, and all the heartbreak.
Since it first premiered in 2002, the show has captured the hearts of hopeless romantics worldwide. It has led to many spin-offs including The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, and most recently, Bachelor in Paradise.
Who Has the Power?
The fans love Bachelor in Paradise. This Bachelor spin-off has extra contestants, meaning extra love, extra drama, and extra heartbreak. What makes Bachelor in Paradise different than the rest of the franchise? Well, with an equal amount of guys and gals, and everyone getting opportunities to hand out roses, there are more opportunities for love.
Handing out the roses shifts from week to week between the men and the women.
Handing out the roses (a.k.a. having all the power) shifts from week to week between the men and the women. During week one of the latest season premiere, the men had the roses and the power, meaning the women had to fight for the men’s attention or risk being sent home. It didn’t take long for this dynamic to turn south for some of the women.
Do Women Want To Be Pursued?
It’s in women’s nature to be pursued. Men do the chasing, women do the choosing. This truth is quite literally reflected in our physicality. Not to mention that women have to be choosier with sexual encounters because the risk is inherently higher (i.e. pregnancy). So what happens when modern ideals of gender roles challenge those rooted in biology and tradition?
Despite the assumed equality and sameness between the sexes that stems from the ideals of modern dating, the contestants know that the dynamic they’ve been thrust into isn’t quite the same as what they’re used to. The men were pleasantly surprised by this change in dynamic. One of the male contestants said, “Having the roses this week is awesome. It’s like a flip on dating dynamic for men. Usually, it’s us chasing and pursuing them, but they are gonna have to come talk to us.”
Reversing the Roles
I understood the men being giddy at this prospect, considering that this gave them a taste of the attention women are used to getting on a regular basis. The men wanted to see the women squirm…and squirm they did. The women were uncomfortable with this dynamic from the get-go and clearly not familiar with it. One of the women said, “I want the guy to approach me. That’s how I’ve had the best relationships and I like being courted.” Another woman also expressed her concerns with this dynamic, saying, “Do you think they’re waiting for us to approach them? Because I just…I don’t really want that.” Spoiler: Both of these women were sent home week one.
The Bachelor franchise casts the most handsome men and the most beautiful women. Sure, personality, likeability, and the likelihood to cause drama also play a role in the casting process. But what’s the one thing all these people have in common? They’re all very good-looking.
The prospect of fighting for attention rather than fighting off too much attention is unsettling for these women.
Once they’re cast on the show, the women become microcelebrities overnight. They’re thrust into the social media spotlight and bombarded with attention, likes, and brand deals. It’s no surprise that the prospect of fighting for attention rather than fighting off too much attention is unsettling for these women. Perhaps, this is an opportunity for the women to reflect on the reality of the volatility of the dating market for men.
The men continue to bask in the thought of women working hard for their attention. “I’m going to sit over in the corner with my rose,” one of the men proclaimed, “someone better come talk to me.” Meanwhile, the women are shaking in their boots at the possibility of going home.
The Goddess Couldn’t Get It Going
Ah, Victoria Larson. Also known as “The Queen” from Matt James’s season of The Bachelor, and rebranded as “The Goddess” on Bachelor in Paradise. Of all the women, she had the hardest time fighting for the men’s attention. “I need the guy to come to me,” Victoria declared. Victoria went on to explain a tactic she uses to attract men. She calls it the five-second rule. “You smile to initiate the guy to come over…and you literally have to do it for five seconds.”
A montage of Victoria smiling and looking around followed, but despite her best efforts, Victoria didn’t have any luck with the men. “That seriously all sucked. My goddess energy didn’t quite kick in.” Following Victoria’s failed attempt at attracting a man, she admits that perhaps she would have enjoyed a bit more control. She says, “In hindsight, I wish I had a date card.” Victoria didn’t get a rose and was sent home.
See, the issue is that women still want to be pursued. Even The Bachelor franchise can’t change that. It makes you think: Flipping the natural law on its head makes for good reality television, but does it make for a good chance at lasting love?
Flipping the natural law on its head makes for good reality tv, but does it make for a good chance at lasting love?
What Leads to Lasting Love?
Bachelor in Paradise doesn’t exactly have the worst reputation when it comes to successful love. Many engagements, marriages, and families have been born from the show. The track record is certainly better than that of The Bachelor, whose only successful couple is Sean and Catherine Lowe. But it makes you think: Could there be more lasting love if the show respected natural dating principles?
The Bachelorette, on the other hand, is perhaps the most successful series in the franchise, one that leads to the highest number of happy endings. Some might insist that The Bachelorette is more successful because women are intuitive. They go with their guts and follow their hearts, while the Bachelors may be more focused on finding the best girl just based on looks. Although there may be some truth to this, I propose a different hypothesis: Perhaps The Bachelorette just provides a better environment for a chance at finding love. One that respects natural dating principles and the unchangeable biology of men and women.
The man has to prove to the woman, and anyone else in the way of the woman, that he’s worthy of her.
Think about your favorite fairy tale, Nicholas Sparks book, or teen romance movie. I’m thinking of Buttercup from The Princess Bride, Allie from The Notebook, and Bella Swan from Twilight. The love triangle is almost always two men fighting over one woman. It’s the men who dual over the fair maiden, not the other way around. Why? Because like we discussed earlier, men do the chasing, and women do the choosing. The man has to prove to the woman, and anyone else in the way of the woman, that he’s worthy of her. Sure, it’s not fair. Sure, someone will lose. But doesn’t that make it all the more romantic?
Bachelor in Paradise sometimes leads to love, but it’s first and foremost about entertainment. It might be fun to experiment with reversing traditional dating roles, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work. Women want to be pursued. But beyond that, men want to pursue women. When this dynamic works in the favor of both men and women, it’s paradise for everyone.
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